If it is your first time stepping in an airport for awhile, you’re sure to notice some changes. From restaurant and shop closures to social distancing, there are new things to get used to. But, if you ever travel via Denver International Airport there are more notable changes in store! Substantial construction and improvements have been underway and some things are starting to look a little different. If you’re curious big changes are in store for your next trip or transit, here is what to expect.
A Bit Of History
Denver International Airport is known as “DIA” with the airport code DEN. It seems like forever ago when DIA first opened its doors. Operating since 1995, it certainly was a long time ago! Some people have always loved DIA’s unique mountain-inspired design and layout, while others despise it. There are many things that set this airport apart from others. One of those things, which you will see mentioned frequently in this post, is that Denver’s airport refers to their terminals as “concourses”. Changes are coming to the concourses and more!
In the time DIA has been operating, the passenger volumes and activities have continually increased significantly. Naturally, the airport would need to expand at some point. If it’s been some time since you’ve traveled through this hub, we’re here to tell you that the time is now!
A Sign Of Things To Come
Pre-pandemic, we would travel through Denver extensively each year. This is not because we are Colorado residents, but rather because our local airport is one of many spokes for this major international hub. Denver is a hub for United and Southwest Airlines, as well as a base for Southwest.
We knew construction plans had been in the works for some time. And our last transit through prior to the pandemic showed signs that they were going to get started on these projects in soon. Truth is, this airport has needed an overhaul for some time.
When we recently returned to DIA after nearly a year, we were pleasantly surprised at the completed work we observed. Presently, there is a lot of construction in progress throughout the entirety of the airport, but we will be focusing on the changes to Concourse B.
The concourses at Denver International Airport run in three long parallel lines. Concourse B is the longest (and generally busiest) of them all and is located directly in the middle of Concourses A and C. All concourses are wide as they have moving walkways that cut straight down the middle with wide halls on each side that lead to the gates or shops and restaurants.
Historically speaking, United Airlines flights always operated solely out of Concourse B. It has always been nice to have minimal navigation once on the ground at the airport. However, this is changing.
Due to construction and expansion, United flights may now arrive and depart out of different concourses at DIA. The concourses are not far from each other, but they do require utilizing the centrally located high-speed, underground train service. This may cause some additional time during your connection. Ensure you pay careful attention to this change and monitor gates. If you travel using the United app, you will receive updates that contain this information.
Again, the concourses at DIA are long. Concourse B is no exception to this, especially if your flight involves gates at the far east end (where smaller commuter planes generally tend to be located). Before the addition of the new gates, this puppy was over 3,000 feet in length. At a fast pace, a full lap around the main portion of Concourse B usually takes about 20 minutes. The recent addition of several gates at the west end has made this space even longer. They are also adding more new gates and services at the east end, which should be open in the next year or so.
Due to the length of the concourses, construction, and the fact that Denver often experiences significant weather related issues, we recommend domestic connections that are absolutely no less that 55 minutes. Even that may be pushing it!
The New Addition
As you make your way west toward this concourse’s new addition, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the work they have done. It feels like you are stepping into a completely different space. You can definitely tell when you are moving from the old into the new. The dingy, muted feeling of the original portion of Concourse B disappears. There is a different energy and atmosphere. Here, the airport offers a glimpse of DIA’s future. It is bright, modern, and clean.
Features In Store
In the new addition, you’ll find many great features. These include:
- Additional gates
- Bright lighting and clean floors
- Vendor/business spaces
- LED signage
- Modern seating arrangements with increased device charging spots
- Outdoor lounge space complete with firepits and a pet relief area
Who could ask for more than that?! Having access to fresh air and improved amenities is crucial in today’s travel landscape. I would have zero complaints about waiting for my next flight in the open air while taking in views of the Rocky Mountains. The overall space is much more open and visually appealing. It feels far less dated and drab. We believe Concourses A and C will also get similar updates in time.
How It Compares
Having traveled internationally, it seemed like airports such as Denver’s could step up their game a bit. We’ve seen some wonderful airports with great offerings – interactive game and activity areas, and sleeping pods and lounge style seating – just to name a few. These things make the travel experience a bit more enjoyable, especially during long layovers. We are glad to see that DIA is joining in on this trend!
What’s The Same
Many other aspects of Concourse B have remain unchanged so far. Carpet and furnishings are worn and torn by the millions of annual travelers. The overhead air vents are filthy. Hopefully they will work on updating these older portions of Concourse B as well. And it is always cold in this space. I find this airport to be freezing no matter the temperature outside.
Our only wish at this point would be the addition of lounges. They have United Club Lounges, but we have never been in one. They charge $50 per passenger and receive continuously bad reviews. We are anxious to see if there are any changes to this as the update efforts continue.
The improvements to Concourse B are long overdue and it finally feels more comparable with other major hubs. As Denver International Airport continues on it’s massive overhaul, we are excited to see how these changes progress.