The Secret to Free Parking at Washington Reagan National Airport

I never pay for parking when flying out of Reagan National Airport. There’s a “hidden” secret I use, that you can too to avoid paying daily fees, and other outrageous costs.

Just south of the airport, about a 10-20 minute subway ride away is the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station (on the blue line) and the Huntington Metro Station (on the yellow line). Both offer service to DCA airport.

Both stations also offer free long term parking, subject to availability. So, when you need to go to the airport, you simply drive to one of these two nearby stations. Once you are inside the garage, you’ll notice a designated floor for multi-day parking. Follow signs.

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The row of cars in the overnight parking of Franconia-Springfield is usually fairly full, however there is usually some spots available. Sometimes, where there isn’t a spot available, I’m lucky to grab a close enough spot nearby and have never had any trouble with getting a ticket or anything.

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Along the row, you’ll see signs designating the appropriate spaces you are allowed to park in.

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Simply park, lock your vehicle and you’re on your way! You’ll pay a meager fare to take the Metro train to the airport, and all in all, you’re maybe looking at a cost of only a few dollars for what could be several days to weeks of “free parking. It’s a no brainer, and essentially is with no to little cost.

When you leave, after your journey, you’ll exit through a marked gate. If you exit on a weekend, there’s no gate down, so you’re free to leave for free. On weekdays, you’ll have to only pay a mere $4.85. This isn’t per day – this is per the entire length of your stay, which is really neat (and cheap).

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Some people ask me whether I have had security issues with my vehicle here overnight, and I can honestly say I’ve never had a problem. I know the area is regularly patrolled by Metro Transit Police, and I’ve always felt safe (and my vehicle safe, too).

Looking at Metro’s website, here’s the specifications on the parking spaces at Franconia-Springfield (which is the closest Metro station to me, and the one I use most often when traveling).

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Metro also describes their multi-day spaces, too.

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Overall, this is a great money saver, considering parking directly at DCA airport could run as much as around $20 a day. Parking at a Metro station and then taking the Metro train in not only saves you hefty parking fees, but also allows you to beat some traffic on the roads, and arrive directly at the airport terminal – a short 2 minute walk to the ticketing counters and security.

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Comments

  1. Beach Miles says

    Wow , that is a great tip. Anybody know if something similar is available in other cities? I could use some free parking in Miami this winter.

  2. Dave says

    “On weekdays, you’ll have to only pay a mere $4.85. This isn’t per day – this is per the entire length of your stay”

    The sign in the picture says $4.85 per day.

    • Andrew T says

      I think he just means you can be dishonest, as his suggestion on weekends is. I understand feeling morally justified avoiding the ripoffs at airports, but public transit in DC is already underfunded. People, please use this trick to avoid the airport ripping you off, but pay what’s due and don’t rip off wmata. It’s just going to result in fewer overnight spots at all metro stops. As the lady on the WMATA buses says, “not paying is theft.”

  3. Robert says

    You’d have to be really hard up for money to think of doing this to save money. What a huge hassle, especially for later/late night parking. Perhaps reconsidering your personal financial situation and not taking that trip and saving your money would be wiser.

  4. ed says

    There are also plenty of other ways of parking free, including street parking in parts of arlington that allow it, and walking to metro (a small hike). The rub in this whole plan here, is if multi-day runs out of spaces. No doubt that WMATA cannot serve legions of FFs, and there isn’t likely a way to pay more than 4.85 if you try — it requires a smarttrip wmata card to get out of the lot, and it automatically charges 4.85. If they wanted to charge > 1 days, they’d need to have you badge in AND out. Should be obvious also, but you need that SmartTrip card, and will have to buy it and fund it ($5 for card + $5 initial fund). I abhor parking fees, but what solution I use usually depends on the amount of time I have before the flight. Coming from I66W, most often, I find myself parking in a garage in Roslyn, for about $11/day, which is cheaper, but not by much. It’s quick to metro to DCA though, and driving over to end of blue line would take more time.

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