Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (IATA: DFW) is one of the busiest airports in the United States. Equally positioned between Dallas and Fort Worth, DFW is a great airport to fly into. Don't forget that as you drive out of the airport, you will have to pay a toll to leave. DFW is the chief hub of American Airlines, which controls well over 80% of all the flights.
The airport was designed in the 1960s to allow for people to park next to their gate and make a short walk to their plane. However, modern security requirements and the hub-and-spoke system have made its long narrow semi-circular terminals somewhat inefficient. Recent improvements including a people-mover tram system (inside security) and renovated terminals have overcome this challenge to make DFW a great connecting airport. Also, the terminal layout with 4 semi-circular terminals and 1 squared one means that the airport has multiple security checkpoints and shorter lines.
The largest selection of restaurants and shops are in Terminal D, while A, B, C, and E have a few decent restaurants spread throughout. An ongoing renovation of the older terminals will improve the selection, with part of A currently complete.
DFW International has 5 terminals. Terminals A, B, and C handle domestic flights, while Terminal D and E handles international and domestic flights. All terminals are connected by a quick rail system inside security and buses outside of security. American Airlines and its affiliate American Eagle has a dominate position at DFW airport and occupies all of Terminals A, B, and C and part of D. Though exact locations can change due to an ongoing renovation of 5 of the terminals.
- Terminal A- American Airlines
- Terminal B- American Eagle
- Terminal C- American Airlines
- Terminal D- AeroMexico, American Airlines, American Eagle, British Airways, Cayman Airways, Emirates, ETIHAD, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, QANTAS, Qatar Airways, Sun Country Airlines, Avianca
- Terminal E- Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, WestJet
For those arriving on international flights, Immigration and Customs process usually takes 15–30 minutes, but can take over an hour at peak times. The busiest times are in the afternoon.
Like all airports in the United States, there are no special transit facilities for international transfers. That means that if you are arriving from an international flight and have an immediate connection, you will have to pass through Customs and Immigration. For details of entry and visa requirements see get in section of United States page.
The main way most travelers get to DFW is by driving to the airport. In fact until recently a car or bus was the only way to the airport. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has grown up around the airport to the point that major expressways form a complete (though oddly-shaped) loop around the airport, with a spiderweb of freeways and toll roads going in all directions. Routes to the airport are noted on road signs 10 miles or more from the airport, though the numerous multilevel interchanges will make it difficult to just head to the airport without looking at a map or using a GPS device. If you go by car, you cannot avoid the tolls, so have some cash with you.
While there are many different parking areas and 5 terminals, all the terminals and the express and garage parking are on International Parkway, a toll road that goes from the north entrance to the south entrance and connects to all the major highways. The North Entrance connects to the DFW Connector, a several mile long interchange of SH 121, 114, and 26, as well as Interstate 635. A recently completed $1 B construction untangled what was a confusing and disjointed mix of highways that often hopelessly congested. However, the redesigned interchange eliminated the exit to the airport loop road for using the North Remote parking lot from International Parkway, so you should take Texas Trail exit from 121/114 from the west or Freeport exit on 114 from the east. The South Entrance meets with an SH 183 near interchanges with SH 360 to the west and President George Bush Turnpike (PGBT) to the east. South remote parking and the car rental center are both easily reached from the south entrance before the toll plaza.
- From Downtown Dallas take I-35E north to S.H. 114/183 ("Airport Freeway"). When 114 and 183 split, you have a choice to go the north or south entrance of the airport. SH 183 (Airport Freeway goes to the south entrance, while 114 goes the north entrance.
- From Downtown Fort Worth take SH 121 to SH 183 (Airport Freeway). When 121 and 183 split, you can either take 121 to the north entrance or 183 to the south entrance.
- From Collin County or anywhere north take either SH 121 (toll road in Collin Co) to the north entrance or PGBT to 114 westbound to the north entrance.
- From Arlington and anywhere south take either SH 360 or PGBT north to the south entrance interchange.
- From Denton or further north take either I-35W south to SH 114 eastbound or I-35E to SH 121 toll road south bound to the north entrance.
Once you've arrived at the airport, you will probably do best to take one of the Shared Ride shuttle services. They offer door to door pickup and drop off, probably costing ~$30 for ~20 miles, which will get you to most places.
By rental car
Another option is to pick up a rental car at DFW. To do so, you will take the shared shuttle from the airport terminal to the consolidated car rental facility. The following companies are located inside the facility:
- Advantage Rent A Car, toll-free: .
- Alamo, toll-free: .
- Avis, toll-free: .
- Budget, toll-free: .
- Dollar, toll-free: .
- Enterprise, toll-free: .
- E-Z Rent-A-Car, toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- National, toll-free: .
- Thrifty, toll-free: .
- Firearch, toll-free: .
For DFW, there are courtesy phones that will let you ring them directly (for free), and they are usually pretty quick about pickups and drop offs. (at most adding an extra 30–40 minutes while you wait for them to pick up more people, or to drop your fellow passengers off on the way to your place or hotel).
A less expensive option, to some places, would be DART, Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Don't be fooled by the airport transportation information service, who will tell you that there isn't any public transport available to get you out of the airport. Since August 2014, DART Rail Orange Line operates seven days a week from Terminal A to Downtown Dallas. Trains arrive at DFW regularly from 3:50 a.m. to 1:19 a.m. daily, 7 days a week.
For another option, as you walk out of the arrivals hall at DFW, turn right and wait under the sign for the 'Remote' South shuttle. This free service takes you to the 'Remote South' parking lot station, where you can either take another shuttle bus to to the TRE or DART bus 408. The airport is north of the CentrePort/DFW Airport Station of the TRE commuter train. From the CentrePort/DFW Airport Station the train goes east to Downtown Dallas and west to Downtown Fort Worth every day except Sunday.
There are several different levels of pricing for parking at the airport depending on proximity to the terminal and level of service. In addition, there are private parking services located near the airport that will drop you off at a terminal like the Parking Spot and Park 'N Fly.
Since International Parkway cuts through the center of the airport, anyone entering the airport will have to pay a toll of $2 ($1 with a TollTag from the NTTA). Tolls are $2 up to 30 minutes, and $3 for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Tolls increase to $5 after 2 hours, $7 after 4 hours, and $20 (or $18 with a TollTag) after 6 hours. You can park in the covered parking at any of the terminals, except the valet areas. There is also 1-hour parking on the 1st level nearest the gates.
If you are leaving your vehicle at the airport, there are many options.
- Leave it in the covered parking at any terminal for $20 a day (or $18 with a TollTag).
- Park in Express Parking and get picked up at your car for $11 a day, or $13 for covered parking. Located on the north and south sides of the airport after the toll plazas.
- Remote Parking costs $9 a day and is located before the toll plazas on both the north and south side of the airport. Buses run from the lot entrance to all the terminals.
- For a not too outrageous $27 a day, you can Valet your car at any of the terminals. Its kept inside a secure area of the covered terminal parking. You can even get your car washed and detailed for an extra fee.
It is possible to walk between Terminals A, B, and C inside security. Though the distances can be great, so it is best to use the Skylink to travel between terminals. There are sidewalks outside of security, but these are outside and not really designed for easy transit by passengers carrying lots of luggage.
Skylink is an automated people mover system operating airside (secured side) between all DFW terminals. This system allows passengers simply changing planes at DFW along with originating passengers who have already gone through security to move between terminals without having to be re-screened. Skylink has 2 stops at each terminal with trains running in both directions. A train stops every 2 minutes with average rides of 5 minutes and the longest ride between most distant stops being 9 minutes.
By Terminal Link
Terminal Link is a free shuttle van system operating landside (unsecured side) between all DFW terminals. Service operates every 10 minutes between 5AM and midnight. Between midnight and 5AM, passengers must call in advance (+1 972 574-5465) to request pick-up.
- Art Program, Around Terminal D and Skylink. The new Terminal D and Skylink people mover included millions of dollars in public art when it was opened in 2005. More than 30 artists installed murals, medallions and terrazzo floors, painting, and sculptures. There is also a sculpture garden outside of the Terminal D parking garage on the arrival level.
- There are several airline lounges scattered around various terminals. American Admirals Clubs can be found at 4 different locations, A24, B6, C20, D24. Priority Pass is located at D21 and E7. The Qantas Business Lounge, British Airways, Korean Air, Lufthansa, and The Club at DFW are all next to gate D21 in Terminal D. While the United Club and Delta Sky Club are in Terminal E at E5 and E10 respectively. American Express's new Centurion Lounge is located near D17.
- Kids Play Areas, Gates A13, B12, C14, D10, D33. Feature foam landscape and kid-safe activities. The D33 playground is at a McDonald's.
- Terminal D Theaters, Terminal D, gate D18. Has 3 different video feeds on 10 screens; CNN, TBS, and Time Warner Classic Movies. Each media seat has an audio jack to plug your headphones into.
Eat and Drink
There is a good collection of places to eat air side of the terminals. The only restaurants outside the secure areas are inside the 2 Hyatt Hotels. Fast food restaurants, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts are spread liberally throughout all 5 terminals with a few decent places if you know where to look. Most of the best restaurants are located in Terminal D.
- Fuddruckers Hamburgers, Gate D18. Simple, custom made burgers and breakfast, though with less choices of meat than a normal Fuddruckers (sorry no buffalo or elk burgers here!) Meals under $10.
- McDonald's, Gates A17, C6, C22, D33. 5AM- 10:30PM. Open early and has Coke. There is also a playground at the D33 location.
- Urban Taco, Gate C22. Opens at 7AM. Cheap, fast street-style tacos and breakfast. Spicy salsa and corn tortillas. Under $10.
- Cantina Laredo, Gate D24. A full service restaurant that serves Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican food, plus a fully stocked bar. Meals from $12.
- Pappasito's Cantina, Gate A28. 6AM-9:30PM. Full service dinning and bar with to-go option for Tex-Mex. Makes flour tortillas fresh throughout the day. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lunch from $14.
- Salt Lick Bar-B-Que, Gate A16. A local chain of Texas style BBQ. Several choices of meat are slow cooked and served with cole slaw, potato salad, and baked beans. Plates from $10.
- Chili's Too, Gate's B20 and C16. Limited menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Serves breakfast.
- TGI Friday's, Gates A13, B10, C8, C29, D34, E17. Casual American dining restaurant and bar with dine-in or take out options. Serves breakfast. Meals around $10.
- Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Gate A24. Louisiana-style seafood restaurant and bar with plenty spicy Cajun and Creole dishes, and some less spicy ones as well. Has a lunch menu
- III Forks Prime Steakhouse, Gate D27 Upper Level. A classic American steakhouse with prime beef, seafood, salads, and sandwiches. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Very Pricy.
International-bound passengers are free to shop at the two duty free shopping shops in Terminal D.
- Buckaroo Duty Free, Gate D14 & D27. Two shops sell alcohol, tobacco, jewelry, and perfume without taxes or other fees.
WiFi is provided by AT&T for free (attwifi).
- DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, Inside security A24, D21, E4, Outside B25, C15, ☎ . The chapel is open 24 hours. Services for Catholics and Protestants are held on Sundays and some holy days and holidays. Juma Prayer is held on Friday.All services are in the Terminal D Chapel by Gate 21. See website or call office for times. A Rabbi and Hindu services available on request. All chapels have prayer rugs available.
- Travelers' Aid, Outside Security D15 Bag claim, E4 lower level, ☎ . M-F 8AM-6PM, Sa-Su 9AM-5PM. Provides information and social services to passengers including crisis assistance and military R&R. It serves as Lost and Found for all security checkpoints and all areas of the airport.
There are 2 hotels and an hourly hotel service inside the airport. Many more hotels in the surrounding cities. Most of the hotels in the nearby cities have shuttles to the airport and long-term parking services.
- Minute Suites, Terminal D, Inside security at D23, ☎ . Small private rooms and showers rented by the half hour, hour, or night. All suites have a couch that turns into a bed, fresh pillows and blankets, a computer with a 32" screen connected to the internet and DirectTV. Suites start at $34 for 1 hour, $8.50 every 15 minutes extra, 30 minute showers are $25, or $15 with a suite rental, or $125 for a suite overnight (11PM-7AM).
- Grand Hyatt DFW, 2337 South International Parkway (Inside Terminal D), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 298 room hotel, with sound-proofed glass was built at the same time as Terminal D. Guest have access to the secure side of the airport to use the shops and restaurants. From $250.
- Hyatt Regency DFW, 2334 North International Parkway (adjacent to Terminal C), ☎ . 811 room hotel that was extensively upgraded in 2011. Has soundproof windows and a 24 hour gym. From $150.