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Squeezed by the Potomac River on one side and Arlington County on the other, National has endured for six decades as a destination airport: Fly in, fly home. Now, with no room for growth, it is growing nonetheless, becoming a mini-hub airport for an airline industry that has been transformed into a transcontinental network of hubs.
The new role as transit point has meant larger planes, more passengers and tons of additional luggage. Added to that, its most regular passengers — members of Congress — have insisted on new flights to the more distant cities that some of them call home.