News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dallas' 21st Century Love Field Upgrade Opens Today

Bill Zeeble

After five years and nearly $520 million, Dallas' newly renovated Love Field Airport officially opens today. Here’s a sample of what the 21st Century terminal will bring to Love Field’s millions of customers.

From the outside, Love Field’s entrance may look the same. But inside, almost everything appears bigger, brighter, easier to navigate. And for hungry passengers, there’s a whole new world of what to eat and drink,  from a wine bar to burgers. Roland Dickey, with Dickey’s BBQ, expects this will be his most successful restaurant out of 300.

“We think we have the best location of the airport. So you have the flight terminal down there, and the common area here with the food court.  When you face two directions, it’s called ‘ocean-front property,’ kind of inside speak, so we have the ocean front property here, so we love it.”

Love Field’s Aviation Director, Mark Duebner, says smoother-flowing security should ease check-in frustrations passengers have tolerated since 9-11.

“We’ve also moved exiting passengers away so you don’t have people trying to get to the parking garage having to go back downstairs, cross the lobby, sort of against the flow of traffic into security. They can stay up on the mezzanine level, go directly to the garage.”

Love Field’s three old 1958 terminals and their many gates are now combined into one, looking larger but taking less space, says Duebner.

“So this new terminal will be 20 gates which is actually a reduction from the available gates Love Field had previously. So even though we have a great new terminal, very efficient, we’ll be able to maintain the same capacity that we did before with more  gates.”

Those with time to kill waiting for a flight can now connect online with 30 free wi-fi minutes and every other terminal seat offering power and a USB port. Duebner says the design, stores, art and food - all shout Dallas.

“We want to make sure, people, when they get off a plane, we’re the front door for the city of Dallas. And so it’s real important, as they come off, that they know they’re in Dallas, and get the feel of Dallas - that it’s a vibrant, great city and we wanted to reflect that in our airport.”  

When the decades-old Wright Amendment ends in October of next year, Duebner expects Love Field’s current four million passengers will soar to six million. Love Field flights will be able to fly non-stop anywhere instead of just to the five Texas border states, so revenues could rise 40 percent.

Southwest Airlines, headquartered across from Love Field, will benefit the most with the Wright Amendment change. Love Field’s dominant carrier paid for 75 percent of the terminal’s makeover, according to Southwest Vice President Bob Montgomery.

“I’m hoping that this building helps make travel fun again.  It’s been under assault since 9-11. And you see article after article that travel’s no longer fun.  This will allow people to have what they want when they want it. It’ll be convenient and a fun environment.”

There’s still some construction left. Southwest’s 12th gate will be finished this summer. But officials expect no one will notice. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.