Skip to content

7 cool things about Dallas Love Field Airport

April 17, 2022
8 min read
7 cool things about Dallas Love Field Airport
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

While Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is bigger and offers more flights, Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) has a longer and richer history, an impressive list of notable firsts, and some hidden surprises.

DAL also hosts its own podcast. And during a recent two-part episode of Love Field Stories – Conversations on the Fly, I had the honor of chatting with aviation consultant and historian Bruce Bleakley, who shared his insider knowledge about DAL, its role in aviation history and its art collection.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Bleakley is the former director of the Frontiers of Flight Museum, located on the southeast corner of Dallas Love Field, and one of the co-authors of a photo and information-packed book about DAL titled The Love Evolution: A Centennial Celebration of Love Field Airport and Its Art.

Here are seven of the topics we covered and some of the DAL secrets we learned. You can listen to – and watch – Part 1 of our chat here. Part 2 airs May 10).

How did Love Field get that romantic name?

Blueprint of Flight by Martin Donlin. (Photo by El Creative, Inc.)

It turns out Dallas Love Field was not named for the emotion love, but for a person named Love.

“The airport was started in World War I as a training field for army aviators,” Bleakley said. “It was the tradition at the time when they established a new flying field to name it after an army aviator who had perished in the line of duty. And the next name on the list was Lieutenant Moss Lee Love, who was from a prominent family in Fairfax, Virginia. And that’s how it came to be named Love Field.”

Today a 79-foot-long glass wall by artist Martin Donlin at the airport includes a portrait of Moss Lee Love based on one of only two known photographs of the aviator.

Dallas Love Field once had an outdoor observation deck

Open air observation decks were once standard amenities at airports. Today they are quite rare. Dallas Love Field had an outdoor observation deck in the late 1950 and early 1960s.

“And that is where a big crowd gathered on July 12, 1959, to watch Lady Bird Johnson press the button to start the first engine for the return trip to New York of the first Boeing 707 flight into Love Field,” Bleakley said. There is no outdoor deck now, “but in the passenger concourse there are large floor to ceiling windows where you can look out on the ramp area and see the planes.”

DAL was the first airport to have a moving walkway

Moving walkway. (Photo courtesy Frontiers of Flight Museum archives)

The first moving walkways in an airport were installed at the Dallas Love Field terminal when it opened in 1958. The airport had 32 gates back then and the moving walkways took passengers from the main terminal to the first gates of each of the airport’s three long concourses.

Unfortunately, “they had teething problems with the first walkways, especially with women’s high heels as you got on or off the moving walkway. And sometimes extra-long dress,” said Bleakley, “They had to go back and do some redesigns. And for a time, they had attendants there to make sure everything was going OK.”

There are still moving walkways at DAL, but now they are used by passengers traveling between the terminal and parking garages B and C.

Dallas Love Field had an ice-skating and roller rinks in the terminal

When Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) opened in 1974 all the major airlines moved out of Love Field and over to DFW airport. “That was part of the agreement they had made,” said Bleakley, and only Southwest, at that time still a small local carrier, and a few commuter carriers were left. “And there really wasn’t much going on in the terminal building. It was a big open space.”

So, for a little over a year, the terminal was leased to a company that turned the space into the Love Entertainment Complex, which had a roller rink, an ice-skating rink, movie theaters, a cabaret, and other amusements.

Love Field played a vital role the day JFK was assassinated

LBJ being sworn in on Air Force 1. (Photo by Cecil W. Stoughton/Wikimedia Commons)

Today, visitors to Dallas often make stops at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and other sites associated with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

Dallas Love Field also had a role in that tragic, historic day. On that morning Vice-President Lyndon Johnson arrived at Love Field in Air Force Two and, per protocol, was on hand to welcome President Kennedy when he arrived on Air Force One and became the first U.S. president to fly into Love Field.

After JFK’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson boarded Air Force One at Love Field to become the first president sworn in on an airplane, the first president to take the presidential oath in Texas, and the first president to be sworn in by a female judge.

Related: Air Force One’s classic Kennedy-era look may remain under president-elect Biden

Today there is a bronze plaque and a white light embedded in the spot on the DAL tarmac where Air Force once parked that day. A copy of the plaque, which bears the timeline of that day, can be found on a wall inside the terminal on the second level, looking out on the tarmac. The markers were given to the airport by FBI analyst and JFK historian Farris Rookstool III, who as a young boy was at the airport with his parents to greet JFK that day.”

First Love Field Airport artwork had a mistake

World Map designed by Luighi “Tony” Flabiano of American Terrazzo. (Photo by Nathan Cox. courtesy Dallas Love Field Airport)

Today Dallas Love Field Airport is home to a large and impressive public art collection with many pieces that highlight the history and legacy of the airport. The bulk of the artwork was installed after 2012. But the airport’s first piece of art – a terrazzo world map with metal inlay – was installed in 1957 as the terminal was being built. Look for it in the central terminal lobby and see if you can spot the countries that now have new names and the one American city that was misspelled on the map.

Alexander Calder hung out at Dallas Love Field

The Flying Colors of South America. (Photo courtesy Frontiers of Flight Museum)

In the early 1970s, famed artist Alexander Calder created special liveries for two Braniff International Airways aircraft: a Douglas DC-8 bore Calder’s Flying Colors of South America artwork and a Boeing 727-200 was painted with Calder’s Flying Colors of the United States design.

Related: The art of designing an aircraft livery

Calder did not just create the artwork and send it along. For both projects he was on site at Braniff’s Love Field maintenance facility painting some sections by hand and supervising maintenance crews transferring designs he had painted on large airplane models to the aircraft.

The Flying Colors of the United States. (Photo courtesy Frontiers of Flight Museum)

“He brown-bagged his lunch. And stayed out at the hangar all day to make sure it was done the way he wanted it,” said Bleakley. “There was one story that during lunch one day when working on the first plane – the DC8 – all the maintenance guys took their lunch break, so Calder sat down opened up his brown bag and noticed he was seated next to a mechanic’s toolbox.”

Calder had his palette nearby and by the time lunch was over “he had put an abstract design all around the top and sides of this fella’s toolbox,” said Bleakley.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Dallas Love Field)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases