Southwest preps for big growth in Denver with 16 brand-new gates

May 6, 2022

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Southwest Airlines is gearing up to grow in Denver with the opening of a big concourse expansion.

Local politicians, along with Denver International Airport (DEN) authorities, celebrated the completion of 16 new gates at the airport’s Concourse C, which is home to Southwest’s operation in the Mile High City, on Thursday.

The new gates, which are all leased by Southwest, will provide plenty of space for the carrier to grow its frequencies and destinations served from Denver.

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“[We now have] the most number of gates in any airport we have in the entire nation,” said Steve Sisneros, Southwest’s vice president of airport affairs, at the ribbon-cutting event. Denver has become Southwest’s largest operation, according to Cirium schedule data, and the carrier has been vocal about its plans to increase flights there in the coming years.

Of course, Southwest competes head to head in many markets from Denver with United Airlines, which also operates a big hub there. In recent years, and especially during the pandemic, Denver has been one of the most resilient bases for United, and the carrier is also doubling down on new flights and more frequencies from the city.

But the expansion isn’t just good news for Southwest. Passengers will also enjoy an upgraded terminal experience.

The seating areas have been modernized with multiple seating options, a plethora of charging stations and new carpeting. The concourse extension was built in the same design as the new gates that opened in United’s Concourse B West in November 2020.

Passengers will also enjoy access to an open-air patio overlooking the eastern end of the airport operations. There are fireplaces and chairs outside for travelers looking to catch some fresh air before their flights.

(Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport)

The new concourse expansion will also feature the airport’s newest restroom design, with modernized fixtures, touchless faucets and floor-to-ceiling windows.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In total, the Concourse C expansion, measuring more than 530,000 square feet, adds 16 new gates, 20 passenger waiting areas and additional customer support areas.

(Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport)

The expanded concourse will also be home to eight new concessionaires, ranging from sit-down restaurants to grab-and-go markets to sundries stores.

(Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport)

Perhaps the big downside to the expansion is that the trek from the check-in counter to the gates is only getting longer. After clearing security in Denver, you have to take an underground train to Concourse C and then walk all the way to the eastern end to get to the new gates. It could easily take more than 30 minutes to get from the check-in area to the new gates — and that’s not factoring in the long security lines that are so common in Denver.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on May 5, Southwest won’t begin operating out of the new gates until late May or early June. Once the gates become operational, two of the 16 gates will remain closed for several months to allow for alignment with existing gates and new hold room construction. The final two gates and additional hold rooms are expected to be operational by October.

Denver, like many of the nation’s biggest airports, is undergoing a major redevelopment project. These 16 new gates are part of a larger project to expand each of the airport’s three concourses with a total of 39 new gates, which will represent a 30% increase in the number of gates.

(Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport)

The Concourse C expansion is the second of four expansion areas to be completed, with the remaining two areas on concourses A West and B East opening this fall. Once the project is finished, all three concourses will have an outdoor patio, along with other passenger-experience improvements.

The airport also recently debuted the first phase of its Great Hall project, which saw the opening of new check-in areas for Southwest and United (among other carriers).

Featured photo courtesy of Denver International Airport.

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