Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Passengers got to see the new security and convenience of the new terminal at Love Field Tuesday.
For the first full travel day, travelers on Tuesday used 11 brand-new gates and a new concession concourse at Dallas Love Field.
Regular traveler Judy Hoffmeister said she didn't recognize the place when she arrived Tuesday morning.
"I flew out Friday and since Friday everything has changed, so when I landed a while ago, I wondered if I got lost in the wrong town," she said.
The gate waiting areas are much larger and the concourse is much wider.
A central concession area includes far more restaurants and shops.
"And that was the first shock that I had, was to see that there's a place to actually eat," Tory Gant said. "Before, it was just 'get in the airport, get to your next place.'"
Demolition now will begin on the remaining old gates. Nine more new ones will be constructed before nonstop flight restrictions end in October 2014.
It's part of a $519 million plan to modernize Love Field, which hasn't been renovated since the 1990s. Southwest Airlines paid for most of the improvements.
The Dallas-based carrier intends to add new destinations from Love Field and more flights in the future.
But a deal to end the long-haul flight restrictions included a limit of 20 Love Field gates to satisfy neighbor concerns about future traffic.
When all the new gates are completed, the "T" design of the new terminal will funnel all passengers through a central corridor from a single security checkpoint.
Dallas Aviation Department Facilities Manager Judy Kane said the airport is designed with security in mind.
"The main security checkpoint, which is run by TSA, was designed to provide more room for people if they're screening; for more agents," she said.
Kane said the Dallas police presence, which was visible Tuesday with officers and explosive-sniffing dogs, will remain routine in the new terminal.
"And there's cameras everywhere," she said.
Gant said he was impressed with it all.
"In fact, I passed my gate just to walk through and take a look," he said.
A 12th gate is scheduled to be operating in July.