In many ways, we are lucky to have one of the largest commercial airports in the world located in our area. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the fourth-busiest airport in North America by passengers, and it spans across a whopping 17,207 acres. North Texans can fly to pretty much anywhere in the world with very few layovers, and with hundreds of planes arriving and departing every day, there's no shortage of flights available to local residents.
However, DFW's extensive terminal system can be pretty intimidating if you're new to Dallas or if you're not a frequent flyer. Plus, if you're traveling at a busy time of year, the crowds can be a nightmare. That's why we've rounded up five tips that will help you navigate the biggest airport in the state with ease.
1. Plan for security checkpoints. This is the biggest factor that derails most travelers' schedules. Depending on the time of day or the date, security lines can vary drastically. You should plan at least an hour to get through the checkpoint if you want to guarantee that you'll make your flight on time.
If you really want to avoid the hassle of airport security, look into TSA Precheck. By enrolling in the paid membership program, you'll speed up your time in security and avoid unnecessary steps like taking off your shoes or removing electronics from your luggage. Just apply online, then schedule an in-person appointment to get your fingerprints and background check done. Although TSA Precheck does cost $85 each year, the payment is well-worth the joy of gliding through security in five minutes.
2. Look up your terminal ahead of time. Most airlines will allow you to check into your flight online before you even leave for the airport. Not only will this cut down on the amount of time you need to spend waiting in line at the airport, but it will also reveal your terminal. Once you know where your terminal (A through E) is located, you can plan your dropoff point and/or parking location more accurately. Plus, you won't end up arriving at the wrong spot only to find out that you are three terminals away from where you need to be.
3. Figure out how airport transportation works in advance. Let's say the worst happens and you do need to hurriedly move from one terminal to another. The easiest way to do that is probably to use the terminal link or Skylink. Visit this DFW website to learn about the connections between all five terminals and how you can take the shortest route to your destination. Fortunately, the Skylink runs 24/hours a day and pulls in a new train every two minutes, so you can access every terminal pretty easily.
4. Take advantage of DFW's family-friendly areas. Traveling with kids is no picnic, especially when flights are delayed or the terminals are packed. That's why DFW International Airport has done its best to create family-friendly environments. You can entertain your little ones at the McDonald's Play Area in Terminal D, or you can take them on a special walk that was created by the American Heart Association. There are even private rooms for nursing mothers in Terminals A, B and E. Do some research prior to arriving so that you know where you can take fussy babies and antsy toddlers before boarding the plane.
5. Don't park at the airport if you can help it. Even leaving your car at the DFW Airport for a weekend-long trip can cost you a hefty sum. In fact, the airport brings in more than $90 million each year in parking fees alone. Do your wallet a favor and have a friend drive you to and from the airport, or park at a remote location like The Parking Spot and take a shuttle to your terminal.
If you have other tips for visiting Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, leave them in the comments below!