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America’s Worst Airport Deserves the Name of America’s Worst President

Washington Dulles International is a hellhole that makes Americans despair and strikes terror into foreigners—just like Donald Trump.

Tom Brenner/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Trump arriving at DCA, an infinitely better airport, in 2023

A group of House Republicans, none of them from the capital region, has introduced a bill to rename Washington Dulles International Airport after Donald Trump. “As millions of domestic and international travelers fly through the airport,” said Representative Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania, “there is no better symbol of freedom, prosperity, and strength than hearing ‘Welcome to Trump International Airport’ as they land on American soil.”

Liberals, of which there are a few in the Washington area, are apoplectic. But I think it’s a spectacular idea. I can think of no better way of honoring the forty-fifth president of the United States than affixing his name to the most embarrassing, miserable airport in the country.

House Democrats from Northern Virginia, having been handed an irresistible opportunity to score easy political points, are leading the charge (on Elon Musk’s X, anyway) against this utterly reasonable proposal.

Representative Abigail Spanberger: “The idea is ridiculous, but sadly real.”

Representative Jennifer Wexton, whose district is home to Dulles: “This is just another in a long list of instances where extreme House Republicans have shown how unserious & delusional they are. Let’s get to work on the real issues the American people sent us here for—not renaming an airport after someone who sought to undermine our democracy.”

Representative Gerry Connolly: “Donald Trump is facing 91 felony charges. If Republicans want to name something after him, I’d suggest they find a federal prison.”

I can only presume that Connolly has never flown out of Dulles, as the airport is a lot like a federal prison! It’s located in the middle of nowhere. The food is flavorless, overcooked slop that I wouldn’t feed to my worst enemies (dogs). And they pack you in like sardines.

I’ll take these one at a time for the benefit of my out-of-town readers.

Saying that Dulles is in “northern Virginia” belies its actual distance from the city it claims to serve. As of this writing, from my house in northern D.C., it would take 45 minutes to reach Dulles by car and 90 minutes by Metro. Yes, if you happen to live on a farm in Aldie (pop. 70), it’s incredibly convenient. But to those of us who live in urban Washington, it’s a pain in the ass. If you don’t believe me, just look at this Census map by population density.

Screenshot via

See where Dulles is?

Just kidding. It’s so far west of the city that it’s not even on this map!

Now, the food. It’s true that almost all airport food in America is overpriced bellyache fuel. But usually you can find something edible, often by patronizing restaurants that make good food elsewhere in the city. No such restaurant exists at Dulles—unless you count Chef Geoffs, which, I gather, is riding on its reputation from two decades ago. So you’re left with chains that originated in D.C. (Cava, Five Guys, &pizza), airport staple Vino Volo, or (gulp) Chick-fil-A. (Compare this to the only truly convenient airport in D.C.—Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a.k.a. DCA to pretty much everyone—whose culinary abundance includes Ben’s Chili Bowl, Good Stuff Eatery, and Lucky Buns.)

But what really makes Dulles a miserable hellhole—the eighth-worst airport in the entire world, according to a 2015 survey—is the so-called people movers. Imagine you have landed at the airport after a nonstop flight from Panama City (five hours), London (eight hours), or even Tokyo (13 hours) or Delhi (15 hours). You’re tired, hungry, irritable. The plane taxis to the gate, and you patiently wait your turn to disembark. You walk up the jet bridge, then down one hallway, then another, and as you anticipate “Customs and Immigration” finally coming into view, you’re herded into what can only generously be called a vehicle: a cramped metal box on oversize wheels.

Pity the poor souls on the “people mover” in the foreground

Conceived in the late 1950s as futuristic, glamorous “mobile lounges,” these anachronistic minibuses look like they’ve been repurposed from an old Star Wars production: crude rovers built to withstand the harsh climate of some distant, dusty planet. And sure enough, after as many as 100 weary people are packed into them, they turn into the bar scene from A New Hope. People are instructed to move to the rear, but are hesitant to do so because that will put them further back in line when it comes time to disembark (again) and navigate another maze of hallways to reach the Customs screening. And yet, the passengers keep pushing their way in, because no one wants to wait for the next Hell on Wheels to shuttle them across the tarmac to a building that they feel, rightly, they should have been able to walk to from the plane.

In these moments, after arriving from a trip abroad, I study my fellow passengers’ faces. Those who have sunk into despair are locals; they’ve been dreading this moment for hours already. Those who are stricken with horror are foreign tourists who cannot believe that the major international airport of the capital of the United States treats its guests like feral hogs. It is a truly ugly welcome to the country, one that always makes me ashamed to be an American.

So why not rename Dulles after the man who makes us feel this way every single day?