The last time I flew through Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 1976, it was the new kid on the block. It was “the” airport that set the bar for all others in the USA to achieve.
Last Thursday, when I flew through DFW again, the scenario was almost completely reversed. While the airport retained an air of modernity from the exterior, inside it told a whole other story. It appeared dated, drab, downright dreary in places, and well worn. Carpeting was worn and/or stained, the concrete interior was drab and dreary, lighting was subdued, natural light was minimal, the walls added for security purposes were bland and uninteresting, maintenance was lacking in places, and one felt like the facility had received little upkeep or modernizing since its opening.
The Skylink rail system was impressive, timely, and well maintained. This is good, because American Airlines seemed hellbent on changing the gate of every single flight. Our flight landed and before we even reached the gate, it was changed. Then barely 20 minutes prior to boarding, the gate of our departing flight was moved to what seemed to be 1/2 mile away. And those were not the only ones changed – it seemed like a frustrating game of musical gates was being played on the travelers. From an operational standpoint, this has to be inefficient.
Overall, it seemed like the airport design had seen better days. Over the past decade I have seen many more efficient and better msintsined airports – Denver, Detroit, Sacramento, Indy, Orlando, Baltimore, Grand Rapids, Seattle, JFK, and Dublin to name a few. Even much smaller Corpus Christi International was wholly more welcoming and pleasant to the traveler than DFW.
I’m not quite sure what led to DFW becoming a a bit of a modern-day dinosaur. Completion from Love Field, which is Southwest’s primary hub? Past hard times for American Airlines, whose primary hub is DFW? General neglect or tight budgets? A design that does not work as well in a post 9-11 world? A combination of all of the above?
Either way, both my wife and I decided that in the future we hope to avoid DFW if at all possible and reasonable.
UPDATE 3/17/15: San Antonio’s Airport is much more inviting and pleasant too.