How Will DFW Airport Change?

DFW 2020

Shiny new terminals and trains that whisk you into the airport from downtown Dallas. Those are just some of the changes that will take shape at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in the next 10 years.

The airport is about to embark on a major renovation of four 35-year-old terminals that are starting to look their age.

After the Super Bowl in Arlington in 2011, crews will begin bringing Terminals A,B,C and E up to the level of the airport's widely celebrated Terminal D.

Terminal A will be the first to get the new look, and it should be complete by 2014. The entire renovation of all four terminals is expected to take seven to eight years.

The renovations will involve more than just replacing old carpet and updating dingy restrooms. The airport is already studying ways to make the buildings more passenger friendly, with better amenities and space for crowds.

"The passengers are really good about telling us what they want, and if we can be ahead of the curve to give them what they want then they benefit, and we benefit," airport spokesman David Magana said.

The aging terminals were built before there were security checkpoints for passengers and long before the days of automated ticket kiosks. Airport designers are looking at better ways to accommodate both while keeping the walkways open.

"We're trying to be the best airport in world, and we're almost there," Magana said.

Another idea on the table is the possibility of restaurants or food kiosks in the ticketing areas, allowing people to dine without needing a ticket to clear security. Currently, only one restaurant in the entire airport sits outside of the secure area in Terminal D, leaving people waiting to pick up passengers with only one option for food.

By 2020, the airport also plans to link with DART rail and TRE trains. Eventually, passengers should be able to step off a train and right up to a ticket counter to check in and drop luggage.

The airport will also become a major connection point for rail travel between Dallas and Fort Worth.

It's hard to predict how much busier the airport, currently the third busiest in the country, will be in 10 years. While many other airports have lost flights during the economic downturn, DFW has held steady and is starting to add flights again.

American Airlines' current strategy includes growing the size of its DFW hub.

"When they want to retrench and get stronger, they get stronger here, because this is their most cost-efficient hub," Magana said. "This is their best functioning hub, and we're proud to say that."

And with seven runways, DFW has more instant ability to grow than any airport in the world.

"We have room here. We have no capacity constraints," Magana said.

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