Delta Makes Its Request for DCA Perimeter Exemption Slots

Delta Air Lines launched their inaugural nonstop flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Taipei (TPE) on June 6th and gave some insight into their plans for perimeter exemption slots at Washington’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

Delta announced plans to to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate a new flight between Reagan National and Seattle. The airline was pushing hard for the expansion of perimeter exemption slots at DCA and I’ve been waiting for them to make their ask since the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 was passed.

people walking in an airport
Delta is looking to launch flights between Washington (DCA) and Seattle.

Delta Wants a Perimeter Exemption for Seattle Flights

Glen Hauenstein, President of Delta, had this to say about the proposed DCA flight during a news conference for the Taipei flights:

“Seattle is a crucial hub for Delta. With today’s Taipei launch, we are further solidifying Seattle’s role as our leading Pacific gateway. And by adding a direct flight to our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C., Seattle customers will have the additional competition and choice they deserve.”

Glen Hauenstein, Delta President

Delta is looking to compete head to head against Alaska on this route.

While this route would fill a hole in Delta’s network, the will have competition on the route from Alaska Airlines. The Seattle based carrier operates 2x daily flights between SEA and DCA. This is likely why they tied the announcement to the launch of the Taipei route, allowing them to showcase their one stop Asian destinations.

a jet plane spraying water on a runway
Seattle has quickly grown into Delta’s Pacific gateway.

Who’s Else is in the Market for DCA Perimeter Exemptions

Delta’s announcement comes a few weeks after Alaska, American, Southwest, and Spirit made their asks known. With only 5 perimeter exemption slot pairs available, four for non-limited incumbents and one for a limited incumbent, the battle is starting to tighten.

Alaska has requested an exemption to fly between DCA and San Diego (SAN). San Diego is the largest market without direct service to Reagan National airport.

American partnered with the City of San Antonio in its bid to connect Washington D.C. with the nation’s 7th largest city.

Southwest is looking to roll a double with its bid to fly between DCA and Las Vegas, a route already operated by American Airlines. Southwest sweetened the deal by adding a one stop, no change of plane flight to Sacramento as part of the request.

Spirit wants to connect DCA with San José Mineta International Airport (SJC). This request is somewhat cloudy as it’s unclear whether they are even eligible. Even if they are, Spirit is classified as a limited incumbent, along with Alaska, and only one exemption is available. I believe Alaska gets the nod over Spirit here.

a view of an airport from a window
American is one of the airlines looking to obtain additional perimeter exemptions from DCA.


Delta has finally revealed their request for a perimeter exemption slot pair at Washington’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The airline is looking to add a daily roundtrip flight from their Seattle hub which will directly compete against Alaska’s 2x daily service.

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