Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, the gateway to the Metroplex.
This airport is one of the largest in the country, if not the largest. In terms of the surface area of all its property, including 5 terminals, two remote parking lots, rental car facility, all 7 runways, and numerous hangars, it is roughly the size of 4 JFK Airports. It’s not the busiest in the country, but it’s at least in the top 5. This is my preferred airport to fly into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, though Love Field with its recent renovations is a very nice airport as well. I am more into the larger airports for a number of reasons, including more flights, more airlines, more options to eat before I fly, usually more transit and/or road infrastructure to and around the airport, and more rental car choices. Though Love field is attractive architecturally and has transit access, I am more of a fan of DFW due to its futuristic-looking terminals, access to remote parking lots and rental car facilities via very spiffy-colored shuttle buses, and its equidistance between the major cities in the Metroplex (Dallas and Fort Worth are both roughly 15 miles east and west of the airport, respectively, but there is also Arlington, about 10 miles south of the airport).
DFW currently has access to the Trinity Railway Express commuter railroad via the DFW Airport shuttles to the CentrePort Station and to Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Orange Line via the DART Route 500 bus to the Belt Line Station. Slowly but surely, and around August, the DART Orange Line will make its way to DFW Airport, Terminal A only. Access to Terminals B through E shall be via DFW Airport shuttle buses. Terminals A, C, and E are on one side of the main roadways (North International Roadway and South International Roadway), while Terminals B and D are on the other side.
There are shuttle buses between CentrePort Station and the South Remote Parking Lot and then from the South Remote Parking Lot to the Terminals and to the North Remote Parking Lot. Within the terminal areas, there are two ways to get to each terminal: the blue terminal link shuttle buses offer service to each terminal outside of the security checkpoint areas of each terminal, and a special people-mover train system connects each terminal from within the security checkpoint areas. The shuttle buses are good for connecting between terminals in case you need to check in to an airline at a different terminal, while the train is used for changing flights from terminal to terminal without leaving secured areas.
Aside from transportation access, DFW gets points in my book simply because of its triple runways on either side of the airport, plus another runway in the northeast corner of the airport property for charter planes. Such an operation allows for two planes to land and one to take off at the same time, or for two planes to take off and one to land at the same time. Three runways on each side allow for 6 plans to take off or land at the same time during peak times. With the terminals semi-circular in design and the concourses jutting out of the terminals in certain spots, each terminal has optimal views of many planes landing or taking off. My flight from LaGuardia to DFW last year with Spirit (blech!), my flight and an American Airlines flight landed together on two adjacent runways while a Kalitta Air Cargo flight was taking off on the third runway. For airplane buffs, this is an under-rated airport with a lot of action going on, especially when it gets really busy.
As far as the cost of reaching the airport, TRE currently offers service from Union Station in Dallas to CentrePort Station and then a transfer to a free shuttle bus to the airport property. DART offers Orange Line service from Plano, Richardson, and Dallas to Belt Line Station and then a transfer to Route 500 to DFW and CentrePort. All for $2.50. And the TRE doesn’t take too long to get out there, only about a half hour from Union Station to CentrePort, and less than an hour from Downtown Dallas (I used Akard Station, DART HQ as the reference station) to Belt Line. The shuttle bus and 500 routes both take about 15 minutes to the airport from the rail lines. Taking a cab or renting a car might be more convenient and faster to the airport, but car rentals plus gas can add up to over $50 per day and cab rates can be around $40-70 depending on where in the Metroplex you are traveling to.
Either way, DFW is a winner in my book. Let’s keep this going…