DFW Airport’s Renovations Start To Take Shape With Renderings Of New Terminal

Four years ago American Airlines and Dallas – Fort Worth airport came to agreement on terminal improvements that included piecemealing a new terminal F and refreshing terminal C for about $3.5 billion. This was put off during the pandemic.

Now it’s moving forward and renderings are available. They look great, and offer more detail around what the airport has planned.

New Terminal F Will Be Gorgeous But Inconvenient For Locals

Here’s where the new terminal will go:

The plan calls for a 15 gate terminal F. The long-term project is supposed to be 24 gates, so they’re only committing to part of it now.

  • The rest of Dallas – Fort Worth is built with local travelers in mind. There’s parking, check-in desks, and security at every terminal.

  • However there doesn’t appear to be any of that in terminal F. It looks built for connections, or long schlepps from another terminal for local passengers.

  • And it’s over $100 million per gate.

It looks like the money is going into a nice facility though.

There’s some dunking on the idea of glass jet bridges, as shown in this rendering. They are common in Europe, and some U.S. airports have them like Amarillo and Wichita. I’ve seen them used in extreme heat in the Mideast. The concept can be great – a wonderful view of the airport. But I frequently see the glass get very dirty. They’re outdoors and don’t get cleaned often! In Wichita it costs more to cool the bridges than operate them and that’ll certainly be the case at DFW in summertime.

50 Year Old Terminal C Goes From Ugly To Gorgeous?

Dilapidated terminal C, which was supposed to be renovated along with A, B and E as part of the airport’s previous TRIP program, will finally see renovations. In total the airport expects to spend nearly $3 billion expanding check-in areas, refreshing the terminal, and adding gates along with making changes to the roadways leading into the airport.

Before the pandemic the airport’s CEO suggested pouring billions into terminal C was a bad idea because you’d still have a 50 year old facility. The airport wanted to build a new terminal F, then tear down and replace terminal C.

But a refresh of the terminal was the most they could get American Airlines to sign off on. (Indeed, in 2019 they were only willing to spend $500 million on the renovation.)

Still, the renderings make the space look gorgeous – much more along the lines of DFW’s newest terminal D rather than their most refresh refresh project of the A terminal.

The airport expects about 78 million passengers in 2023, up from 75 million in 2019. They need to expand over the long term, and this lets them do it, but we don’t yet know what the project will entail in its entirety or when we’ll see it come to fruition. Projects take longer than you’d expect, even accounting for knowing that they take longer than you’d expect. Even in Texas.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m glad that terminal C will be renovated. F terminal though is going to be very annoying to use. They should really build out a full terminal with 2 skylink stops like the rest.

  2. I can’t see where the space is there in Terminal C to build a check in area like that. They must be planning on redoing the roads to C as well and pushing out the building space

  3. Honestly that F rendering looks a bit cramped for a totally fresh build in 2023. Also looks to me like there’s going to be a very real shortage of seating in the area, which in turn makes me wonder about power at those seats… and then the fact that it looks really bright in the renderings means literally nothing about what the actual built terminal will look like, as the renderings are just that: fake, computer-generated ideas of what the architect would prefer things to look like, not what they actually will.

    This does not look good to me, Gary. I’m sure it’ll work well enough for me (DFW is a great transit airport, IMHO), but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a lot of missed opportunity for fundamentally small changes (e.g. seats).

    Also note I was recently in w/e terminal was expanded (B, I think..?) and the brand new gates had exactly these issues: hallways are FAR too narrow for the traffic using them, and there was not nearly enough seating. Didn’t bother checking for power during my limited time there. IDK what the architects are thinking about over there, but I don’t think it’s passenger experience or effective use of space.

  4. Let get this clear: Terminal C has a lot more love left to give and this renovation is just a waste of money. What about AA’s cost structure? I love that for Terminal F you have to check in at another terminal and then have to ride a train. Maybe they could go back to paper tickets too. That would be cool. I just hope there are is enough room for all of the disaffected Delta fliers. Go DFW (airport, not municipalities)

  5. Still a little disappointed in the lack of security entries at F for DFW flyers, but I get it…I’m spoiled. This is just like DIA & ATL to a certain extent.

    The lack of 2 Skylink stops and the lack of symmetry drives my OCD nuts! That walk from the Skylink stop to the furthest south gates looks worse than the D1-4 gates nightmare.

  6. @Tom
    You beat me to the punch with the Braniff logos. The logo was also imbedded into the covers of some of the lighting in DFW.
    This was when airlines treated PAX like customers and not as a nuisance.
    So long ago!!

  7. Everyone from DFW has good Braniff memories. Local operations were in Terminal 2W – now Terminal B. Braniff was the only airline at the new airport that had an entire terminal to itself. My lasting memory is of all of the aircraft parked at the terminal and on the tarmac when the airline declared bankruptcy.

  8. I don’t know why they’d not follow the same design as the other terminals. Even if they didn’t build the road infrastructure/parking infrastructure initially to save some costs… one of the best things about DFW is the fact there are multiple entrances throughout, not just one or two choke points ( like DEN, SEA to name a few).

    I could see doing this sort of if it’s an international terminal, but still seems like one step forward two steps back.

  9. @Potsey Weber: Agreed, DFW is to arrive at. Hartsfield is to connect through.

    Doors right by the gates.

    – A

  10. As a weekly (local) traveler at DFW, I’m not sure those plans for Terminal F make sense. But the issue is obviously what to do with South Express Parking, which has been located at the empty Terminal F pad for years. The solution would be a new parking deck on the south side of the airport, but that’s obviously not in the plans.

    Ideally, I’d like to see them build a normal terminal F, with terminal parking, check in and baggage claim. I pity all the connecting passengers who have to get from terminal F to terminal A on a busy day. SkyLink trains are already packed at peak transfer times. It may be time for DFW airport management to consider expanding the SkyLink stations – which are already built to accommodate four-car trains (they just need the added boarding doors installed).

    Routine maintenance of the existing facilities is a more pressing issue for me. For some reason, airport management seems to have stopped doing that work. Escalators clank like they’re about to break down at any minute (They used to be regularly serviced, but I haven’t seen an escalator service crew at work in months and months). Parking deck walkways are filthy, garbage cans never seem to be emptied. Parking deck elevators breakdown regularly. Terminal windows don’t seem to be cleaned at all now. The entire airport is starting to look shabby and rundown, and the high traffic volumes – while great for the airport’s profit margins – seem to be making it even harder for them to keep up the routine maintenance.

    A nice new Terminal F will be probably be good for transit passengers, and help with operations volume, but it won’t do much to address the way we local users see the airport.

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