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CAPITAL FOR THE CAPITOL: Airfares to DCA among highest in country

Nico Reens Washington DC
Posted at 2:42 PM, Jun 22, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Washington, DC is one of those bucket list places.

The center of the American government.

A bastion of history. Notably, getting to our nation’s capital by air is tricky.

Lucky for Nico Reens, he went to Washington as part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, representing Tulsa.

“It was really everything that everyone said it was,” Reens said, “I thought everyone kind of exaggerated when they said how cool it was, but it was really cool.”

For people not participating in the spelling bee, getting to DC means spelling M-O-N-E-Y.

Back in the '60s, Congress passed regulations limiting nonstop flights to Reagan National within a 1,250-mile radius.

Tulsa is right on the edge of that perimeter. Still, only one airline offers nonstop service to DCA from TUL: American. Their fares are still steep: nearly $750 round-trip for a weekend in October.

Southwest, Delta, and United offer airfares from $400-600 round-trip.

Prices like those are why the Capital Access Alliance was formed, advocating for more non-stop flights.

“Improving access to the nation’s capital increases the affordability and efficiency of air travel, strengthens economic growth and better serves our nation’s capital,” the alliance said in a written statement.

They succeeded in getting Congress to authorize five new flights to DCA. The origin and airlines are pending an application process. Reens said it's worth it for someone willing to pay the cost.

“All of these things I’ve seen in social studies textbooks, it’s kind of weird to see them in real life,” Reens said, “It’s just a great experience.”

Those airfares are expensive. Not to mention the high costs of food and lodging in DC. Reens, for one, says the hotel shouldn’t be the focus.

“My best tip is just don’t stay in bed a lot. Try to go out and explore,” Reens said.

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