Decked out: Your inside look at Denver Airport's new terminal expansion
Denver Airport is approaching its 26th birthday. And what better way to celebrate than with the opening of the airport's first concourse expansion.
The airport, which was built to handle 50 million passengers annually, opened in 1995. Since then, Denver has seen steady growth, both from the airlines operating there and in the number of passengers.
To increase capacity, the city broke ground on the DEN Gate Expansion project back in 2018. The first of four new concourse extensions opened in November, and it's a harbinger of what's to come for the airport.
I recently had a chance to check out the new Concourse B West gates (B7 to B12) — all leased to United Airlines — so let's take a look inside.
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The first thing you'll notice is the sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing light to stream in from all corners of the terminal.
It's hard to describe how much airier and brighter the new gates feel. Many passengers checking out the new gates for the first time were also impressed; I overheard lots of "oohs" and "ahs."
Aviation enthusiasts will certainly appreciate that the glass windows weren't glazed with a protective coating.
The six new gate areas each feature a plethora of seating arrangements — a noticeable improvement from the old gates at Denver that were outfitted almost entirely with bench seating.
There are individual recliners, high-top and low-top collaborative working tables, couches and benches.
Each seat features a power outlet, and some have USB-A and USB-C charging ports, too.
Denver's current bathroom setup isn't great, to say the least. Fortunately, the restrooms received a dramatic overhaul in the new gate area.
The handwashing stations all have large, rectangular mirrors, touchless faucets and soap dispensers, and fantastic tarmac views. You might not want to leave the bathroom.
It's not just new gates or restrooms.
The new concourse area also features the airport's first outdoor deck, with incredible views of the apron areas and the Colorado Front Range in the distance.
The west-facing deck sports a variety of all-weather seating, a bar area and two fireplaces. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better spot at the airport to enjoy the sunset, though the new Amex Centurion Lounge gives the deck a run for its money.
More: First look at the much-anticipated Amex Centurion Lounge in Denver
Any passenger can enjoy the outdoor deck, regardless of your departure gate, making it an especially pandemic-friendly feature for those looking to minimize time indoors. (Denver is building two other outdoor patios in future expansions.)
Those traveling with pets will also appreciate the dedicated relief area.
Asked about his favorite part of the new expansion, Stu Williams, senior vice president of Denver's airport expansion, told TPG that "it's the easy answer, but you've got to love the outdoor decks."
Perhaps the most underrated feature of the expansion is the improved wayfinding. The signage has all been upgraded with a new typeface and color palette, making it easier for passengers to navigate the airport.
Additionally, each gate has a new vertical screen with improved messaging, flight status information, boarding times and arrival weather.
"There was a tremendous amount of design effort that went into the wayfinding. The implementation of what we envisioned is huge because it's super practical and it's fun. It doesn't get much better than that," said Williams.
Flyers should be excited that "the goal is to continue this concept of improved wayfinding through the rest of the concourses," according to Williams.
For now, the new B West gates give travelers a preview of what's the come for Denver Airport. Three more concourse extensions are in the works, and the entire program is due for completion in early 2022.
- Concourse A will see 12 gates added to its western end.
- Concourse B will see 10 gates added to its eastern end.
- Concourse C will see 16 gates added to the east.
Until then, add some extra time to your next Denver visit to take a look at the new gates — and soak in some Vitamin D out on the new patio.
All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy