The Ultimate List of Best-To-Worst Virginia Airports

Written by Justin Sexton
Published: October 20, 2023
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Aerial View of the skyline of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront looking South

Aerial View of the skyline of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront looking South

©Kyle J Little/Shutterstock.com

Virginia is one of the most influential states in the United States. It was a part of the original thirteen colonies. Many pivotal figures in arts and entertainment come from the Commonwealth State. Virginia is home to the likes of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, Nickelus F, Pusha T, Clipse, Chad Coleman from The Walking Dead, Missy Elliott, Ella Fitzgerald, Maggie L. Walker, Tim Reid, Fly Anakin, Allen Iverson, Lawerence Taylor, and more. The Commonwealth State is also home to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, the Chesapeake Bay, the James River, Edgar Allan Poe’s house, and Thomas Jefferson High School.

The state of Virginia is also home to some of the largest naval bases in the United States, especially around Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia. It would be a good destination to travel to. Visitors are two hours away from the beaches, Washington DC, the Appalachian Mountains, and North Carolina if they start their trip in Richmond, VA. This article will cover the best to worst Virginia airports to fly to. The airports will be ranked at the end of the article.

Richmond International Airport

A tour of the Rihcmond, International Airport

Let’s start with the state’s capital and its airport. Richmond International Airport is located in Sandston, Virginia. It’s a smooth ten to twelve-minute drive from the capital of Richmond, VA. This airport is the fourth busiest airport in Virginia behind Ronald Reagan Washington, Washington Dulles, and Norfolk International Airport. In 2022, the airport served over four million passengers. The Richmond International Airport also serves as an aviation support facility for the Virginia Army National Guard. It also serves as a major cargo airport for four companies: FedEx, Amazon, DHL Aviation, and UPS Airlines.

The Positives

Richmond International Airport has over one hundred seventy different international and domestic destinations. They offer international flights, but only as connecting flights. Check out their route map to view all the different destinations they help passengers get to. Some of the destinations include India, China, Mexico, France, Germany, Senegal, and Egypt. RIC has twenty-six direct domestic flights. Some of their direct flights go to Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Miami, Denver, Chicago, Washington DC, and Dallas.

The flight prices are cheaper compared to the other airports in the state. Richmond’s Wi-Fi is pretty fast and they have EV charging stations available. Its TSA team has a solid reputation for being an efficient and courteous TSA crew. Parking is seven dollars a day. The airport provides plenty of charging stations. Travelers love how clean the airport is as it provides a welcoming feeling to visitors.

They have a good amount of airline carriers for customers. Some airline companies available are American Airlines, United Airlines, Breeze Airways, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, and Spirit Airlines.

Room For Improvement

The airport can be a bit confusing to maneuver around so one can get to the arrivals and departures portions. Their food options are limited to Applebees and small coffee shops. Some people may complain about the lack of direct flights to larger cities, but it has a good amount for a small airport.

Norfolk International Airport

A morning walk tour of the Norfolk International Airport.

The Norfolk International Airport is seven miles northeast of downtown Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk International serves travelers from Eastern Virginia and even northeast North Carolina. From 2021 to 2022, the passenger number increased from 3.31 million to 4.1 million. The number might’ve drastically jumped due to the uplift of COVID-19 travel restrictions. It’s the third busiest airport only behind Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles. The airport covers 1,300 acres. Norfolk International was first established in 1938. It grew into a driving force in the city’s economy.

The Positives

Norfolk International Airport offers military discounts for Veterans and active military members. The airport is in the same area as many naval bases. They also have free Wi-Fi, exotic car rentals, and an electric vehicle charging station. It’s also an airport that’s open to non-travelers. People can visit the airport and check out the different things they have to offer.

The airport is also easy to navigate and has a fairly quick TSA check-in protocol. It’s a well-kept airport and has good signage for people to use to navigate from one terminal to another. They also have a friendly rental car system.

Room For Improvement

Although the name states it’s an international airport, it has zero international flights. It doesn’t have as many food options as larger airports, but there are feasible food options there. There isn’t as much seating at the airport as other airports. Most of the restaurants are closed early in the morning, which can be annoying for early travelers. The airport can be understaffed from time to time which affects the workflow.

Washington Dulles International Airport

A full walkthrough of the Washington Dulles Airport.

The Washington Dulles International Airport is the second busiest airport in Virginia. It’s at Dulles, Virginia which is twenty-six miles south of Washington D.C. The Dulles International Airport is the busiest airport for international flights in the Mid-Atlantic outside of the New York metropolitan area and handles ninety percent of the total international traffic for the Washington-Baltimore area.

Dulles covers over thirteen thousand acres of land, making it the fourth largest airport land-wise in the United States. The only three airports that are larger are Denver International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and Southwest Florida International Airport. Dulles serves over twenty-one million passengers annually.

The Positives

If you’re looking for a direct international flight, this is the airport to fly out of! Dulles has direct flights to sixty-one different destinations. Some of the many international destinations they have are Brazil, India, South Africa, El Salvador, Honduras, Nigeria, Egypt, Finland, Sweden, China, and South Korea.

They have many different air carriers there. Some of the airlines available at the airport are Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Copa Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Virgin Atlantic, and a lot more.

The airport has a lot of restaurants and fast food options available for visitors. People can also get to and from the airport on the metro system that goes throughout DC along with the surrounding Maryland and Virginia areas. Staff are very courteous to handicapped travelers and there are changing stations for parents. Washington Dulles has multiple shuttles for people to get from one side of the airport to another due to its massive size. It’s also easy for people to find their ride shares as signs are clear and easily viewable.

Room For Improvement

The lounges can get overcrowded for people. Due to the demand for international flights, it can create long TSA lines. Economy parking is much more expensive compared to the other airports. Economy parking is fourteen dollars a day while other airports’ economy parking costs seven dollars a day. There are two concourses and Concourse B has more food than Concourse A. The Customs and Immigration check-ins have mixed reviews on how fast and slow they handle incoming passengers. Seats can feel limited for people due to the massive crowd it draws.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Today covered the newest renovation of America’s busiest runway at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is in Arlington, Virginia. The airport faces Washington DC and is on the other side of the Potomac River. This airport is five miles away from Washington D.C. It’s smaller than the Washington Dulles International Airport as this airport only covers 860 acres. What many people don’t know about the airport is that Reagan National Airport is subject to a federally maintained perimeter limitation to keep it as a short-haul airport. Doing so allows Washington Dulles to keep most long-haul traffic. To explain why briefly and simply, it’s to prevent excessive air traffic from the two airports that are mere miles from each other.

The Positives

It has many different airline providers. Some airline providers Reagan National has are United Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. They have free Wi-Fi and electric vehicle charging stations available. Travelers can find many different shop options to pass the time during layovers or upcoming flights. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport does its do-diligence in providing many direct flights in a timely fashion.

Room For Improvement

There aren’t many different international destinations the airport has for passengers outside of Canada. The airport can do better in its upkeeping to give customers a cleaner airport. It could use some type of modern overhaul on their furniture. Lines can pick up due to its location and the frequent demand for direct flights.

Arriving at the airport is easy, but leaving the airport can be a hassle. The dropoff and pick-up locations can be hard to get across as visitors have to cross multiple road lanes to get to them. It could be an inconvenience for people with a lot of luggage. The road signage can be confusing to visitors as well. The terminals themselves can get very crowded, especially at the different charging stations.

Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport

This airport is eight miles north of Charlottesville, Virginia. Albemarle County. It first opened in 1955 and serves the northwestern part of Virginia. It covers seven hundred acres of land. Charlottesville Albemarle Airport is a great airport for people to visit the University of Virginia and the historic city of Charlottesville.

The Positives

For it being a small airport, they have a good amount of food options. They have several restaurants, smaller coffee shops, and vending machines to get food from. For a small airport, Charlottesville provides direct flights to five different destinations and offers even more connecting flights. Some of the airlines they provided are United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines.

Travelers can enjoy the observation deck and its view of the Appalachian Mountains. The food prices are reasonably priced compared to other larger airports. TSA staff is very friendly and helps people get through security in a good and timely manner. It’s a very clean and modern airport that stands out in the rural environment of Charlottesville. Parking is relatively cheap.

Room For Improvement

It has limited airline providers unlike the other airlines mentioned earlier. They do have five direct flight destinations. It’s not a 24-hour airport as the hours are from 4 AM to 12:30 AM. The food options are somewhat limited to a few food places and vending machines.

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport

This video shows what it’s like to depart from the airport on different planes.

This Southwestern Virginia airport is at Roanoke, Virginia. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport serves as the primary airport hub for southwestern Virginia. It covers 912 acres of land and serves over 570,000 passengers annually. This airport helps people who are too far from Richmond and the northern Virginia airports get to where they want to be.

The Positives

The airport is well taken care of in its cleanliness and how passengers can navigate through the airport. TSA is super friendly and usually helps guests in a timely manner. The airlines they have available are Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Express. Roanoke-Blacksburg has several direct flights to Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Washington, and several Florida cities.

Room For Improvement

No international flights and a limited amount of airline carriers. The airport can have some better furniture to keep up with the times, however. A flexible schedule is needed for travelers because flights can get canceled sometimes. Past customers have brought up issues about not receiving their luggage or getting their luggage longer than usual.

Summary Of the Best-To-Worst Virginia Airports

RankAirportLocation
1Richmond International AirportRichmond, VA
2Washington Dulles International AirportDulles, VA
3Ronald Reagan Washington National AirportArlington, VA
4Norfolk International AirportNorfolk, VA
5Charlottesville–Albemarle AirportAlbemarle County, VA
6Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional AirportRoanoke, VA

Roanoke-Blacksburg is at sixth due to the reported issues with how they handle their visitor’s luggage. Aside from that, the airport is a solid airport to go to. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport is higher on this list due to better service and cheaper flight tickets.

Norfolk International Airport is fourth because it has zero international flights. However, the airport offers veteran discounts for every service they have available. Norfolk International has plenty of amenities to offer and help its visitors.

Ronald Reagan Washington Airport is third because of its limited international options compared to the other two top airports. It picks up passengers that do not want to fly out of Washington Dulles and because of that, the check-in lines can be very long. The airport can also feel outdated and need more modern furniture and equipment.

Washington Dulles International provides the most international flights than any other airport mentioned on this list. However, it’s a crowded airport often. With good reason of course, but extremely crowded. The Dulles Airport is the largest international airline hub in the mid-Atlantic. Yet, if you’re looking for a smooth airport to fly into and get out of, Richmond International Airport is that airport.

Now, it doesn’t have as many direct international flights as Washington Dulles International. But, incoming travelers wouldn’t have to deal with as much foot traffic as if they would fly out to the Washington Dulles airport. Washington Dulles may have more food than Richmond International Airport, but Richmond Airport is easier to get around and has a little bit of everything for visitors. It has good food, affordable parking, free Wi-Fi, multiple airlines to fly out of, and an efficient security check-in.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rui Serra Maia/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Justin is an A-Z Animals Writer that loves to cover places, unique natural disasters, and travel. He has eight years of experience as a writer in the medical and media fields. He wrote for the likes of VCU Health, theMSQshop, PayDay LA, and Comic Book Resources under the penname Jay Guevara. Although he's a full time writer, Justin graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 with a Bachelors in Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science with a background in Community Engagement. After spending over two decades in Richmond, Virginia, Justin now resides in the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga, California. He's a dedicated gymrat. He's also a two-time poetry author who's influenced by rappers Joe Budden and IDK along with Dante Alighieri.

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