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A tour of the new technology-heavy passenger gates at DFW

June 04, 2021
5 min read
A tour of the new technology-heavy passenger gates at DFW
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The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought global travel to a near-halt, devastating airlines' financials and squeezing crucial revenue streams for airports, but there was one silver lining: As airport traffic plummeted, airlines had more time and space to complete certain infrastructure projects.

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New terminal and roadway construction at New York's Laguardia airport finished months ahead of schedule, for instance. Boston Logan, while reducing the overall scale of a planned project due to the revenue loss, was able to speed up runway safety work thanks to the reduced activity.

It all means that as travelers return to the skies after a year of quarantine, they may be in for a surprise as they encounter brand new airport facilities where there used to be dilapidated gates — or even nothing at all.

One such airport: Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), home to American Airlines.

The airport continued a variety of infrastructure programs during the pandemic, and is just beginning to unveil completed projects.

During a recent trip through the American Airlines hub, TPG had a chance to check out the brand new gates in Terminal D.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

Terminal D is the airport's major international terminal. Along with wide-body American Airlines flights, the terminal normally hosts airlines like Emirates, Lufthansa, Qatar and Korean Air (all of which offer lounges in the terminal). It's also where you'll find the American Express Centurion Lounge.

The $160 million project adds four gates, numbered 1 though 4, to the terminal — previously, the gates at the terminal were numbered starting at 5. A new building, it adds a whopping 145,592 square feet to the terminal (61,820 sq. ft. of that is the main concourse; the rest is for airport operations).

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DFW recently began operations at the four gates as part of a "soft launch" as it wraps up the last few details, primarily using them for domestic flights — although the gates are equipped for both domestic and international arrivals.

While the rest of the terminal doesn't exactly feel cramped, the new gates are certainly more spacious, not to mention bright and airy.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

It draws heavily on a lounge-type atmosphere, said Ken Buchanan, the airport's executive vice president of customer experience and revenue management. And there's no question: it shows.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

There's seating all over the place. Next to the gate, next to windows, and next to every restaurant or shop (some of which hadn't opened yet during our tour), featuring a variety of styles.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

The area feels large for just four gates, which is deliberate, Buchanan said. They're wide enough to accommodate virtually any aircraft type (aside from an A380), necessitating a degree of difference.

More: American has finished adding seats to its Boeing 737 fleet — and the Airbus A321s are just a step behind

But for passengers, the main novelty won't be the space or the seats, but rather the impact of new tech.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

The terminal windows are covered with dynamic smart glass, which doubles as screens, allowing passengers to see flight information virtually wherever they are in the space. The glass can also tint darker under direct sunlight, helping keep the terminal cooler. There are plenty of other screens, too, as well as color-coded lights at each gate to highlight when the boarding process begins.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

While there are several restaurants and bars, there's no need to actually visit them. Instead, passengers can order it from their phones and have it delivered to their seat by scanning a QR code. If you haven't really settled into a seat yet, or you want to move around before your flight, you can order via a kiosk and choose to pick your order up at a centralized station, instead.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

Then, there's perhaps the most important part of any airport terminal: the bathrooms.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

Along with a helpful system of red and green lights to show which stalls are available, the bathrooms are outfitted with an array of sensors that feed into a tablet carried by the terminal facilities manager. They'll know whenever supplies of soap, paper towels, or toiler paper start to run low, allowing them to bring replacements before they run out, Buchanan said.

Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy

With more of the world reopening and travel counts ticking back up, travelers can look forward to more surprises as they return to airports and see that things aren't quite what they remember.

Featured image by Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy
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.

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.