Greeting Veterans

There are two places to greet Veterans when they arrive in DC. Please choose whichever place works best for you – we strongly recommend that you try both!

Greeting at DCA airport

Greeters at the airport is a fulfilling opportunity for those living in the greater DCA area. Many of us assume that our veterans had a warm welcome when they arrived home from the battle front. That may have been the case for returning GIs from World War II. It certainly was not the case for Vietnam veterans. Many have told us that they didn’t receive ANY welcome home and thus thought that they have been forgotten and were not appreciated. 

After a fulfilling and tiring day, greeting the Veterans as they come back to the airport is also appreciated and rewarding. 

Greeters’ basic role is to meet, greet, and thank our Veterans. The time commitment for a greeting can vary from 2-4 hours. Greeters are encouraged wear patriotic clothing, and are welcome to bring banners, flags, and smiles. 

Depending on the flight, there may be two options for greeting a flight. 

Greetings outside security – greeters are always welcome to greet our Heroes outside security as the arrive at DCA or depart from DCA.  Please note these times can be influenced by unexpected travel delays or early arrivals.  Please take this into consideration when planning your trip to DCA.  The schedule of arrival times into DCA, and the time the hubs are due back at the airport, are on our scheduling page.

To greet outside security, just show up at the Terminal number listed on the scheduling page.  There is no limit to the number of people that can greet outside security!  If driving, park in the corresponding terminal parking garage.  For more information, please visit Getting Around.

For arrivals, please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the estimated time of arrival.  You should also be able to track the flight # on a smartphone app such as Flight Aware of Flight Tracker.   For departures, please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled return time to the airport to allow for early arrivals back to the airport. 

Greeting at the gate inside security – non-escort gate passes are provided at the discretion of airlines.  Therefore, gate passes will not be available for all flight arrivals and / or departures.  In order to determine if gate passes are available for a particular flight, go to the scheduling page and look for “request a GAP here” link associated with the flight you wish to greet. 

If gate passes are available, fill out the form for the flight name / date / time to request a gate pass, keeping in mind that due to circumstances beyond Honor Flight’s control, gate passes are never guaranteed.  The request form will typically close down 48 hours prior to the arrival date. 

A gate pass must be filled out for everyone,  even minors and babes-in-arms (they won’t have to show ID, however).  Once you fill out the form, you will be notified approximately 36 hours before the flight with a confirmation and details related to that flight greeting (where to pick up gate passes, gate information) and parking options.  Keep in mind if requesting a gate pass, you will need to arrive at the airport at least one to one and a half-hour prior to the flight arrival to clear security.  Total time commitment for a greeting inside security – 3 to 4 hours. CLEAR members can use the CLEAR lanes to pass through TSA with their gate pass (upon presentation of your active CLEAR card).

A gate pass allows greeters to be at the gate upon arrival.  While at the gate, please keep an open and clear walkway for the Veterans, and follow the instructions of the DCA Terminal Support Crew in bright yellow shirts to maintain a clear footpath for Veterans.  As the Veterans come off the jet-bridge and travel down the concourse to the buses, you are welcome to follow them and stay to wave them off after they have loaded their buses. 

For additional information specific to greetings held at each Terminal, visit the “Arrivals” tab. 

If you are part of a group that would like to greet a flight at the gate, or an entertainment group, please Groups Greetings

Please note: Parking at DCA airport is extremely limited, especially on weekends. Parking vouchers are not available for volunteers at the DCA parking garages. 

You are welcome to check the airport parking structures and park on your own.

An alternative to parking at DCA is to parking in Crystal City and take the metro (one stop away from DCA airport on Yellow line in the direction of Huntington or Blue line in the direction of Franconia /Springfield).  Parking at a Crystal City garage if free after 4 on weekdays and all weekend. Parking during weekdays is $6.00 an hour for the first two hours or $21 daily.  The first hour is free.

The closest garage to the metro station is located at 1750 Crystal Drive, Arlington VA 22202.  When entering the garage, look for overhead signs pointing to you the 251 18th St Elevators.  Go up to Level S (Shoppes level) and then follow the overhead signs a short walk to the Metro.

Please remember, especially at the airport, that the safety and enjoyment of our Veterans is of utmost importance; we must cooperate with all airport authorities. PLEASE follow all instructions/directions from the Airline, Airport, TSA Employees, and the Honor Flight DCA Ground Crew Terminal Leaders.

Greeting at the Memorials

Can’t make it to the airport?  Another greet place to greet is the WWII Memorial, as most flights do include that stop on their itinerary, including bus trips and flights landing at BWI and IAD.  Please click here for more information on greeting at the Memorials. There is no need to RSVP to us, just show up.

Some given Saturdays are called “Super Saturdays” as up to 10-14 hubs are in town; creating a wonderful opportunity to greet.

4 thoughts on “Greeting Veterans

  1. 1. Are there any established groups/orgs through which one can attach and thus get transported/parking accommodated to make this personal commitment happen?

    2. As per above, if one were to organize a group through an organization, such as a church, are there possible accommodations, i.e., parking, that can be arranged on an extended, defined basis?

    Thank you.

    Adrienne Riviere/National Presbyterian Church, DC

  2. I would not forget about greeting at the Korean Memorial which they normally unload by the Lincoln Memorial. greeting there can also be done and check the schedule but it may not be as close to the printer schedule.

  3. I had the Honor and privilege of sponsoring a veteran to escort a WWII veteran from Peoria IL to DCA. It was so rewarding and I am going to volunteer to be a greeter for as many flights as possible. The sacrifices those brave young men and women made for all of us cannot be repaid. In this small way I feel as if I am showing them a debt of gratitude by greeting them upon arrival, shaking their hand and thanking them for their service.

  4. Hi there, we do not work directly with DCA airport and they have their own rules and protocols about parking and transportation. Unfortunately, we cannot help with parking/transportation. However, many groups have coordinated transportation independently!

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