Impact of New Washington Dulles International Airport (“IAD”) Concourse

View from inside of the Dulles International Airport, facing a plane on the tarmac in the process of loading passengers.

The Dulles International Airport (IAD) announced their investment of $675 million in a new concourse by 2026 – the most significant upgrade in the airport’s history! While there are two other international airports in close proximity, IAD holds the largest volume of travelers in the Washington DC metropolitan area. It has the longest runways, the most international routes, and will soon have Metro service to its doorstep.

But what does this mean for the safety of the traveling public?

Airlines are “common carriers“ which means they have a higher duty to carry individuals safely. A common carrier is a person or company that transports goods or passengers on regular routes at set rates. In other words, they are companies that regularly carry people and are paid for it. Common carriers include buses, trains, and ferries; which are held to a greater standard of care in the eyes of the law. However, with greater volume comes greater safety expectations.

IAD is a state of the art facility, servicing the major national and international air carriers. Once travelers get through the “sterile area” (the TSA screening section), they are in an area under the total control of the airport authority. 

View of the Dulles International Airport from the hanger.

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (“MWAA”) has contracts with all of their vendors, maintenance personnel, and repair teams. Since 9/11, surveillance cameras have been located in nearly every nook and cranny of the air operations area. When there is a dangerous condition at the airport, the MWAA is dealing with it as soon as possible. If an employee is alert and keeping an eye on the videos, action must be taken immediately. However, accidents still happen at the airport, even when it is “State of the art.” Things get spilled; carts knock into passengers; there are tripping hazards that are not “open and obvious” because passengers are looking up at the gate assignments and connections location. Retaining experienced airport injury counsel is critical to the success of a case under these circumstances.

If an injury is sustained during a domestic itinerary, then the case may not have to be filed in federal court, and state law may apply. However, even under state law, the airport authority may be afforded some immunity’s, limitations on damage, and other hurdles to the injured victims claims. So again, getting legal counsel experienced in the nuances of airport and airline injury cases may enable an injured traveler to get full compensation for their losses.

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured at the airport, or there are questions about what laws apply and what benefits may be available, please email us at or call  (703) 796-9555 right away!