Denver International Airport

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Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport Logo.svg
DIA Airport Roof.jpg
WMO: 72565
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity & County of Denver Department of Aviation
OperatorCity & County of Denver Department of Aviation
ServesDenver, Front Range Megalopolis, Northern Colorado, Eastern Colorado
LocationNortheastern Denver, Colorado
Hub for
Focus city forSouthwest Airlines
Elevation AMSL5,431 ft / 1,655 m
Coordinates39°51′42″N 104°40′23″W / 39.86167°N 104.67306°W / 39.86167; -104.67306Coordinates: 39°51′42″N 104°40′23″W / 39.86167°N 104.67306°W / 39.86167; -104.67306
DEN is located in Colorado
Location within Colorado
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations635,445
Economic impact$13.0 billion[1]
Social impact146.6 thousand[1]
Source: Denver International Airport[2]
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This article is about the current airport open since 1995. For the airport previously serving Denver, Colorado, see Stapleton International Airport.
Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport Logo.svg
DIA Airport Roof.jpg
WMO: 72565
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity & County of Denver Department of Aviation
OperatorCity & County of Denver Department of Aviation
ServesDenver, Front Range Megalopolis, Northern Colorado, Eastern Colorado
LocationNortheastern Denver, Colorado
Hub for
Focus city forSouthwest Airlines
Elevation AMSL5,431 ft / 1,655 m
Coordinates39°51′42″N 104°40′23″W / 39.86167°N 104.67306°W / 39.86167; -104.67306Coordinates: 39°51′42″N 104°40′23″W / 39.86167°N 104.67306°W / 39.86167; -104.67306
DEN is located in Colorado
Location within Colorado
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations635,445
Economic impact$13.0 billion[1]
Social impact146.6 thousand[1]
Source: Denver International Airport[2]
Eastward view from an inbound flight, January 27, 2011

Denver International Airport (IATA: DENICAO: KDENFAA LID: DEN), often referred to as DIA, is an airport in Denver, Colorado. At 54 square miles (140 km2) it is the largest airport in the United States by total area. Runway 16R/34L is the longest public use runway in the United States. In 2013 Denver International Airport was the 15th-busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic with 52,556,359 passengers.

It was the fifth-busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements with over 635,000 movements in 2010.[3] The Denver International Airport has non-stop service to destinations throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. The airport is in northeastern Denver and is operated by the City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. DIA was voted Best Airport in North America by readers of Business Traveler Magazine six years in a row (2005–2010)[4] and was named "America's Best Run Airport" by Time Magazine in 2002.[5]

DIA is the main hub for low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines and commuter carrier Great Lakes Airlines. It is also the fourth-largest hub for United Airlines. The airport is a focus city for Southwest Airlines. Since commencing service to Denver in January 2006, Southwest has added over 50 destinations, making Denver its fastest-growing market. DIA is the only airport in the United States to have implemented an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system covering the entire airport.[6]



The Teflon-coated fiberglass roof of Denver International Airport resembles the Rocky Mountains

The Jeppesen Terminal's internationally recognized peaked roof, designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects, is reflective of snow-capped mountains and evokes the early history of Colorado when Native American teepees were located across the Great Plains.[7] The catenary steel cable system, similar to the Brooklyn Bridge design, supports the fabric roof.[7] DIA is also known for a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal to Concourse A that allows travelers to view planes taxiing beneath them and has views of the Rocky Mountains to the West and the high plains to the East.


Both during construction and after its opening Denver International Airport has set aside a portion of its construction and operation budgets for art. Grotesques hiding in suitcases are present above the exit doors from baggage claim. The corridor from the Jeppesen Terminal and Concourse A usually contains additional temporary exhibits. Finally a number of different public art works are present in the underground train that links the main terminal with the concourses.

Mustang, by El Paso born artist Luis Jiménez, was one of the earliest public art commissions for Denver International Airport in 1993. Standing at 32 feet (9.8 m) tall and weighing 9,000 pounds (4,100 kg), "Mustang" is a blue cast-fiberglass sculpture with red shining eyes located between the inbound and outbound lanes of Peña Boulevard.[8] Jiménez died in 2006 while creating the sculpture when the head of it fell on him and severed an artery in his leg. At the time of his death, Jiménez had completed painting the head of the mustang. The sculpture was completed with the help of the artist's staff, family, and professional race-car painters Camillo Nuñez and Richard LaVato. Upon completion the sculpture was sent to California for assembly and then shipped to Denver. "Mustang" was unveiled at DEN on February 11, 2008.[9]

"Mustang" has gotten mixed reviews. Many critics of the sculpture are attempting to have it removed, but the city plans to leave the installation in place for 5 years before deciding its future. The controversy over the sculpture has received wide media attention, with coverage from the local news outlets to The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and The Daily Show.[10][11]

Other DIA Art Commissions have been awarded to acclaimed artists as Leo Tanguma; Gary Sweeney;[12] Gary Yazzie.[13]

DIA's Art Collection was recently honored by the publishers of USA TODAY, for being of the ten best airports for public art[14] in the United States.

Automated baggage system

The airport's computerized baggage system, which was supposed to reduce delays, shorten waiting times at luggage carousels, and cut airline labor costs, was an unmitigated failure. The airport opening was originally scheduled for October 31, 1993, with a single system for all three concourses. Issues with the baggage system delayed the opening to February 28, 1995, with separate systems for each concourse and varying degrees of automation.

The system's $186 million original construction costs grew by $1 million per day during months of modifications and repairs. Incoming flights on the airport's B Concourse made very limited use of the system, and only United, DIA's dominant airline, used it for outgoing flights. The 40-year-old company responsible for the design of the automated system, BAE Automated Systems of Carrollton, Texas, at one time responsible for 90% of the baggage systems in the United States, was acquired in 2002 by G&T Conveyor Company, Inc.[15]

The automated baggage system never worked as designed, and in August 2005 it became public knowledge that United would abandon the system, a decision that would save them $1 million per month in maintenance costs.[16]

Solar energy system

Partial view of the solar farm under construction, leaving the airport, July 1, 2008.

Between February[17] and August 2008,[18] construction of an on-site, two-megawatt[19] solar energy system took place. The single-axis tracking system[20] provides 3.5 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year[19] and uses 9,200 solar panels made by Sharp.[18] Originally designed to power a jail,[21] it spares the environment of more than five million pounds of carbon emissions annually.[19] The system generates the equivalent of half the energy needs of the underground trains that move people between concourses.[22] The $13 million-plus[20] system sits on 7.5 acres (or 30,000 m2),[20] clearly visible to people entering and exiting the airport. WorldWater & Solar Technologies Corp. designed and built the system, while MMA Renewable Ventures LLC—rather than DIA—owns the solar farm and sells its energy to the airport.[19] Denver International Airport's three solar array systems now produce approximately six percent of the airport's total power requirements.[23] The output makes DEN the largest distributed generation photovoltaic energy producer in the state of Colorado.[24]


DIA has Wi-Fi access throughout the airport. The free service is ad-supported through an advertising-filled HTML frame that is inserted into the top of the browser window. Users of the Wi-Fi network are also required to view a 30-second advertising video in the browser before Internet access is granted, although in many cases a click-through button is provided to avoid viewing the ad. The network is managed by FreeFi Networks, a Los Angeles-based firm.[25] T-Mobile HotSpot service is available in the airport lounges run by United Airlines and American Airlines.[26] The airport has pay-per-use kiosks which can be used to access the Internet and to play video games. The current stations were developed by Zoox Stations and were installed in 2007.[27]


Aerial view of the airport in 2002

The airport is 25 miles (40 km) driving distance from downtown Denver,[28] which is 19 miles (31 km) further away than Stapleton International Airport, the airport it replaced. The distant location was chosen to avoid aircraft noise affecting developed areas, to accommodate a generous runway layout that would not be compromised by blizzards, and to allow for future expansion. The 35,000 acres (55 sq mi; 140 km2)[29] of land occupied by the airport is nearly twice the size of Manhattan. The land was transferred from Adams County to Denver after a 1989 vote,[30] increasing the city's size by 50 percent. However, much of the city of Aurora is actually closer to the airport than the developed portions of Denver, and all freeway traffic accessing the airport from central Denver, either via Pena Boulevard or E-470, passes through Aurora.

Airport officials say its large area contributes to DIA having the highest number of wildlife strikes of any airport in the United States (2,090 in the period 1997-2007). However, it ranked seventh among US airports in wildlife strikes per 100,000 takeoffs and landings.[31]


From 1980 to 1983,[32] the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) investigated six areas for a new metro area airport which were north and east of Denver. In September 1989, under the leadership of Denver Mayor Federico Peña (after whom Peña Boulevard is named), federal officials authorized the outlay of the first $60 million for the construction of DIA. Two years later, Mayor Wellington Webb inherited the megaproject, scheduled to open on October 29, 1993.

Delays caused by poor planning and repeated design changes due to changing requirements from United Airlines caused Mayor Webb to push opening day back, first to December 1993, then to March 1994. By September 1993, delays due to a millwright strike and other events meant opening day was pushed back again, to May 15, 1994.

In April 1994, the city invited reporters to observe the first test of the new automated baggage system. Reporters were treated to scenes of clothing and other personal effects scattered beneath the system's tracks, while the actuators that moved luggage from belt to belt would often toss the luggage right off the system instead. The mayor cancelled the planned May 15 opening. The baggage system continued to be a maintenance hassle and was finally terminated in September 2005,[33] with traditional baggage handlers manually handling cargo and passenger luggage.

On September 25, 1994, the airport hosted a fly-in that drew several hundred general aviation aircraft, providing pilots with a unique opportunity to operate in and out of the new airport, and to wander around on foot looking at the ground-side facilities—including the baggage system, which was still under testing. FAA controllers also took advantage of the event to test procedures, and to check for holes in radio coverage as planes taxied around and among the buildings.

DIA finally replaced Stapleton on February 28, 1995, 16 months behind schedule and at a cost of $4.8 billion,[34] nearly $2 billion over budget. The construction employed 11,000 workers.[35] United flight 1062 to Kansas City International Airport was the first to depart and United flight 1474 from Colorado Springs Airport was the first to arrive.[36]

After the airport's runways were completed but before it opened, the airport used the codes (IATA: DVXICAO: KDVX). DIA later took over (IATA: DENICAO: KDEN) as its codes from Stapleton when the latter airport closed.

During the blizzard of March 17–19, 2003, heavy snow tore a hole in the terminal's white fabric roof. Over two feet of snow on the paved areas closed the airport (and its main access road, Peña Boulevard) for almost two days. Several thousand people were stranded at DIA.

In 2004, DIA was ranked first in major airports for on-time arrivals according to the FAA.

Denver International Airport covered by the December 22, 2006, snowstorm

Another blizzard on December 20 and 21, 2006 dumped over 20 inches (51 cm) of snow in about 24 hours. The airport was closed for more than 45 hours, stranding thousands.

Design and expandability

Denver International Airport's signature roofline as seen from the interior.

Denver has traditionally been home to one of the busier airports in the nation because of its location. Many airlines including United Airlines, Western Airlines, the old Frontier Airlines and People Express were hubbed in Denver and there was also a significant Southwest Airlines operation at the old Stapleton International Airport. At times, Denver was a hub for three or four airlines. Gate space was severely limited at Stapleton, and the runways at the old Stapleton were unable to deal efficiently with Denver's weather and wind patterns, causing nationwide travel disruption. These problems were the main justification for the new airport. The project began with Perez Architects and was completed by Fentress Bradburn Architects of Denver, Pouw & Associates of Arvada, CO, and Bertram A. Bruton & Associates of Denver.[37][38] The signature DIA profile, suggestive of the snow capped Rocky Mountains, was first hand sketched by Design Director Curtis W. Fentress. Seized upon by then Mayor, Federico Peña, as the iconic form he was looking for – "similar to the Sydney Opera House" – DIA's design as well as its user-optimized curbside-to-airside navigation has won DIA global acclaim and propelled its designer, Fentress, to one of the foremost airport designers in the world. Fentress Architects is currently at work on the modernization of LAX. The concourses were designed by a joint venture of The Richardson Associates and The Allred Fisher Seracuse Lawler Partnership.[39]

With the construction of DIA, Denver was determined to build an airport that could be easily expanded over the next 50 years to eliminate many of the problems that had plagued Stapleton International Airport. This was achieved by designing an easily expandable midfield terminal and concourses, creating one of the most efficient airfields in the world.

At 35,000 acres (14,164 ha),[29] DIA is by far the largest land area commercial airport in the United States. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is a distant second at 18,100 acres (7,325 ha). The 327-foot (100 m) control tower is one of the tallest in North America.[40] The airfield is arranged in a pinwheel formation around the midfield terminal and concourses. This layout allows independent flow of aircraft to and from each runway without any queuing or overlap with other runways, as well as allowing air traffic patterns to be adjusted to avoid crosswinds, regardless of wind direction. Additional runways can be added as needed, up to a maximum of 12 runways. Denver currently has four north/south runways (35/17 Left and Right; 34/16 Left and Right) and two east/west runways (7/25 and 8/26).

KDEN FAA airport diagram

DIA's sixth runway (16R/34L) is the longest commercial precision-instrument runway in North America with a length of 16,000 feet (4,877 m).[41] Compared to other DIA runways, the extra 4,000-foot (1,200 m) length allows fully loaded jumbo jets such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 to take off in Denver's mile-high altitude during summer months, thereby providing unrestricted global access for any airline using DIA.

The midfield concourses allow passengers to be screened in a central location efficiently and then transported via a people mover to three different passenger concourses. Unlike Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport upon which the midfield design was based, Concourses B and C are not connected by any kind of walkway; they are only accessible via train.

The taxiways at Denver have been positioned so that each of the midfield concourses can expand significantly before reaching the taxiways. Concourse B, used by United Airlines, is longer than the other two concourses, but all three concourses can be expanded as needed. Once this expansion is exhausted, space has been reserved for future Concourses D and E.

All international flights requiring customs and immigration services currently fly into Concourse A. Currently eight gates are used for international flights. These north facing gates on Concourse A are equipped to divert incoming passengers to a hallway which connects to the upper level of the air bridge, and enters Customs and Immigration in the north side of the Jeppesen Terminal. These gates could also be easily modified to accommodate the Airbus A380 and other large planes by allowing simultaneous boarding on both the upper deck and the lower deck.

As part of the original design of the airport the city specified passenger volume "triggers" that would lead to a redevelopment of the master plan and possible new construction to make sure the airport is able to meet Denver's needs.[42] The city hit its first-phase capacity threshold in 2008, and DIA is currently revising the master plan. As part of the master plan update, the airport announced selection of Parsons Corporation to design a new hotel, rail station and two bridges leading into the main terminal.[43] Santiago Calatrava has been selected as the architect for the project. In addition, before hitting the 60 million passenger volume trigger, the airport is planning on constructing an additional runway, 20+ new gates on the existing concourses, two additional International Gates as well as improvements to the baggage system and passenger train.

Once fully built out, DIA should be able to handle 110 million passengers per year, up from 32 million at its opening.

Terminal and concourses

A terminal map of the Denver Airport

Jeppesen Terminal

The pedestrian bridge connecting the Jeppesen Terminal with Concourse A

Jeppesen Terminal, named after aviation safety pioneer Elrey Jeppesen, is the land side of the airport. Road traffic accesses the airport directly off of Peña Boulevard, which in turn is fed by Interstate 70 and E-470. Two covered and uncovered parking areas are directly attached to the terminal – three garages and an economy parking lot on the east side; and four garages and an economy lot on the west side.

The terminal is separated into west and east terminals for passenger drop off and pickup. Linked below is a map of the airlines associated with the terminals.

The central area of the airport houses two security screening areas and exits from the underground train system. The north side of the Jeppesen Terminal contains a third security screening area and a segregated immigration and customs area.

Passengers are routed first to airline ticket counters or kiosks for checking in. Since all gates at Denver are in the outlying concourses, passengers must pass through any one of the three separate security screening areas for admittance into the secure air side of the airport (one at each end of the main terminal, with escalators down to the trains, plus one at the end of the walkway to Concourse A).

After leaving the main terminal via the train or pedestrian bridge, passengers can access 95 full-service gates on 3 separate concourses (A, B, & C), plus gates for regional flights.

Stone used in the terminal walls was supplied by the Yule Marble Quarry, also used for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lincoln Memorial.[7]

South Terminal Redevelopment Program

A new $500 million adjunct terminal next to the Jeppesen terminal will house a train station, to be run by Regional Transportation District's (RTD) FasTracks system, a 500-room hotel and conference center, to be run by Westin Hotels & Resorts. Projected completion date is estimated to be sometime in mid-2016. The rail link will provide a direct linkage between downtown Denver and the airport at a cost of over $1 billion. The design concept of the South Terminal was envisioned by architect Santiago Calatrava. Calatrava claims that the South Terminal Redevelopment Program was inspired by an eagle flying, and will keep the Jeppesen terminal a visible icon. The Calatrava design was significantly reduced which, along with disputes with contractor Parsons Transportation Group, led to the withdrawal of the Calatrava firm. Gensler and AndersonMasonDale Architects are the architects for the project.[44] Nevertheless, construction eventually began on October 5, 2011.[45][46]

Proposed landside people mover

The airport is also proposing a landside people mover system (similar to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's Skytrain or Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's SkyTrain), which is planned to link the terminal and RTD FasTracks station with the rental car and parking facilities.[47] Since the landside people mover is in the proposal stage, neither estimated time of completion nor specifications of the system are known at this time.


Moving walkways in Concourse B.

DIA has three midfield concourses, spaced far apart. Concourse A is accessible via a pedestrian bridge directly from the terminal building, as well as via the underground train system that services all three concourses. For access to Concourses B and C, passengers must utilize the train. On one occasion in the late 1990s, the train system encountered technical problems and shut down for several hours, creating a tremendous back-log of passengers in the main terminal since no pedestrian walkways exist between the terminal and the B and C Concourses. Since that day the airport's train system has continued to operate without any further major service interruption.

The concourses and main terminal have a similar layout to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, except that DIA has no satellite unit of T gates directly attached to the terminal and the space between concourses at DIA is much wider than the space between the concourses in Atlanta. This allows for maximum operating efficiency as aircraft can push back from their gate while other taxiing aircraft can still taxi through the alley behind them without delay.

The airport collects landing fees, rent and other revenues from the airlines to help offset its operating costs. DIA is owned and operated by the City and County of Denver, but does not operate using tax dollars. Instead, the airport is an "enterprise fund" generating its own revenues in order to cover operating expenses. The airport operates off of revenue generated by the airlines – landing fees, rents and other payments – and revenues generated by non-airline resources – parking, concessions revenues, rent and other payments.

On December 14, 2006, The Denver Post reported that DIA was in the design phase of expanding Concourse C in the airport's "first major concourse expansion." At least eight new gates are planned for construction at the east end of Concourse C and the project has an estimated pricetag of approximately $160 million. If the project is given the green light to move past the design phase, construction on Concourse C is estimated to take 3 years and will allow primarily Southwest Airlines, but also other carriers, to increase flight schedules at one of the nation's fastest-growing airports.

Concourse B also expanded with the addition of a regional jet terminal designed by Reddy & Reddy Architects at the east side of Concourse B.[48] This Regional Jet concourse consists of one smaller concourse or finger which is connected to Concourse B.[49] These gates allow direct jet bridge access to smaller Regional Jets. With the opening of the Regional Jet Concourse on April 24, 2007, United Airlines left Concourse A entirely and operates solely from Concourse B, with the exception of international flights requiring customs support.[50]

Concourse A

Denver Concourse A and Control Tower

Note: Concourse A handles all of DIA's international arrivals at Denver (excluding airports with border preclearance) as well as certain departing flights.

Concourse A has 37 Gates: A24–A68 with four international boarding gates. Gate A37 is used by British Airways and gates A41 & A43 are used by Air Canada, Icelandair, and Lufthansa.

Frontier Airlines is the largest carrier on Concourse A, while Great Lakes Airlines and American Airlines are also located on the concourse. JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines also use the concourse.

Concourse B

The entrance to Concourse B.

Concourse B has 77 Gates: B15–B29, B31–B33, B35–B39, B42–B95, and is used for all United Airlines operations. United operates mainline flights from the entire main concourse building. At the east end is a ground level satellite that is used for most United Express flights.

In November 2009, United and DIA reached an agreement in which United released five of its gates in the western end of the concourse. DIA in return leased these gates to US Airways.

There are two United Clubs on the second floor of Concourse B, situated about an equal distance away from the people mover station: one near gate B32 and the other near gate B44.

Concourse C

Overhead view of the Concourse C train station

Concourse C has 22 Gates: C28–C49
Southwest and Delta use the gates in Concourse C. Concourse C will have 5[51] new gates after an extension of the concourse is complete in November 2014. The new gates C23 – C27 will be used by Southwest.

Concourses D and E

The airport has reserved room for two more Concourses to be built beyond Concourse C for future expandability. Concourse D can be built without having to move any existing structure. The underground train system, however, will have to be extended. Concourse E will require moving a United Airlines hangar. However, before construction on Concourses D and E begins, Concourses A, B, and C can be extended in both directions.

Airlines and destinations

DIA is the largest hub of Frontier Airlines and the fourth-largest hub for United Airlines. Southwest Airlines continues to grow rapidly at the airport and the airport is the airline's fifth largest city. The airport is also the main hub of Great Lakes Airlines.

The three largest airlines serving DIA are United Airlines (including United Express), Southwest Airlines, and Frontier Airlines, controlling about 40%, 25%, and 22% (numbers were rounded) of all passenger traffic at DEN in December 2012, respectively.[52]

Passengers boarding the underground people mover, which transports passengers between the concourses and the Jeppesen Terminal
A Frontier Airlines Airbus 320-200 taxis under the pedestrian bridge.
AeroméxicoSeasonal: Mexico CityA
Air CanadaToronto–PearsonA
AirTran Airways operated by Southwest AirlinesAtlanta (ends October 5, 2014), Cancún (ends October 5, 2014), San José del Cabo (ends October 4, 2014)A, C
Alaska AirlinesPortland (OR) (resumes September 2, 2014), Seattle/TacomaA
American AirlinesChicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, MiamiA
American EagleChicago–O'Hare, Los AngelesA
British AirwaysLondon–HeathrowA
Delta Air LinesAtlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Cincinnati, Salt Lake City
Delta ConnectionMemphis, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Cincinnati
Frontier AirlinesAtlanta, Austin, Bloomington/Normal, Bakersfield, Bismarck, Bozeman, Branson, Cancún, Cedar Rapids, Chicago–Midway, Chicago-O'Hare (begins October 1, 2014),[53] Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Detroit, Eugene, Fargo, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fresno, Greensboro, Harrisburg, Houston–Intercontinental, Idaho Falls, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minot, Missoula, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newport News, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orange County, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San José del Cabo, Santa Barbara, Seattle/Tacoma, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Spokane, Tampa, Washington–National
Seasonal: Anchorage, Bellingham, Cozumel, Durango, Fairbanks, Great Falls, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Jackson Hole, Knoxville, Liberia, Montego Bay, Palm Springs, Punta Cana, San José de Costa Rica, Wilmington/Philadelphia
Great Lakes AirlinesAlamosa, Alliance, Chadron, Cheyenne, Cortez, Dodge City, Farmington, Huron, Kearney, Kingman, Liberal, McCook, North Platte, Page, Pierre, Riverton, Scottsbluff, Sheridan, Show Low, Telluride, Watertown, WorlandA
JetBlue AirwaysBoston, New York–JFKA
Southwest AirlinesAkron/Canton, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Burbank, Cancún (begins October 7, 2014),[54] Chicago–Midway, Columbus (OH), Dallas-Love (begins October 13, 2014), Dayton, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Houston–Hobby, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Louisville, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo (begins October 11, 2014),[54] Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane, Tampa, Tucson, Tulsa, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Fort Myers, Providence
A, C
Spirit AirlinesChicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix[55]
United AirlinesAnchorage, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Boise, Boston, Cancún, Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Edmonton, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Las Vegas, Lihue, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Panama City (begins December 3, 2014),[56] Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita,[57] Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, Wichita
Seasonal: Bozeman, Calgary, Eagle/Vail, Fairbanks, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers,[58] Grand Rapids, Jackson Hole, Montrose, Tucson
United ExpressAlbuquerque, Amarillo, Aspen, Atlanta, Austin, Bakersfield, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bismarck, Boise, Bozeman, Burbank, Calgary, Casper, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cody, Colorado Springs, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Durango (CO), Eagle/Vail, Edmonton, El Paso, Eugene, Fargo, Fayetteville (AR), Fresno, Gillette, Grand Junction, Grand Rapids, Great Falls, Gunnison/Crested Butte, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Hays (begins August 1, 2014),[59] Helena, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Idaho Falls, Indianapolis, Jackson Hole, Jamestown (ND), Kalispell, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lafayette (LA) (begins September 1, 2014), Laramie, Lincoln, Little Rock, Louisville, Lubbock, Madison, Medford, Memphis, Midland/Odessa, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minot, Missoula, Moline/Quad Cities, Montrose, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Palm Springs, Pasco, Peoria, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Pueblo, Rapid City, Redmond/Bend, Reno/Tahoe, Regina, Rock Springs, St. George (UT), St. Louis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose (CA), Santa Barbara, Santa Fe, Saskatoon, Seattle/Tacoma, Shreveport, Sioux Falls, Spokane, Springfield/Branson, Toronto–Pearson, Tucson, Tulsa, Vancouver, Wichita, Williston, Winnipeg
Seasonal: Mammoth Lakes (begins December 20, 2014),[60] Sun Valley,[61] Traverse City
US AirwaysCharlotte, Philadelphia, PhoenixB
US Airways ExpressLos AngelesB
VolarisChihuahua,[62] Guadalajara,[62] Mexico CityA

Cargo airlines

FedEx ExpressBillings, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Memphis
UPS AirlinesBillings, Louisville, Ontario, Reno/Tahoe

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from DEN (May 2013 – April 2014)[63]
1Phoenix, Arizona1,011,000Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United, US Airways
2Los Angeles, California951,000American, Frontier, Southwest, United
3Las Vegas, Nevada885,000Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
4San Francisco, California837,000Frontier, Southwest, United
5Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas803,000American, Frontier, Spirit, United
6Seattle/Tacoma, Washington765,000Alaska, Frontier, Southwest, United
7Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota734,000Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
8Salt Lake City, Utah729,000Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United
9Houston-Intercontinental, Texas720,000Frontier, Spirit, United
10Atlanta, Georgia678,000AirTran, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United
Busiest international routes from Denver (January 2014)[64]
1Cancún, Mexico22,867Frontier Airlines, AirTran, United Airlines
2Calgary, Canada17,665United Airlines, SkyWest, Shuttle America, Delta, Air Canada
3Toronto (Pearson), Canada15,490Air Canada, SkyWest, GoJet, Delta
4San José del Cabo, Mexico14,020Frontier Airlines, AirTran, United Airlines
5Frankfurt, Germany13,554Lufthansa
6Vancouver, Canada12,880United Airlines, SkyWest
7London (Heathrow), United Kingdom12,096British Airways
8Tokyo (Narita), Japan11,756United Airlines
9Puerto Vallarta, Mexico11,383Frontier Airlines, United Airlines
10Edmonton, Canada9,693SkyWest, United Airlines, Shuttle America


The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates five bus routes under the frequent airport express bus service called skyRide, as well as one Express bus route and one Limited bus route, between DIA and various locations throughout the Denver-Aurora and Boulder metropolitan areas.

The skyRide services operate on comfortable motorcoaches with ample space for luggage, while the Express and Limited bus routes operate on regular city transit buses and are mainly geared for use by airport employees.

RouteTitleAreas served
AAWagon Road / DIAWestminster, Northglenn, Thornton, Commerce City
ABBoulder / DIABoulder, Louisville, Superior, Broomfield, Westminster
AFFederal Center / Downtown / DIALakewood, Downtown Denver (Market Street Station), Northeast Denver
ASStapleton / DIANortheast Denver
ATArapahoe County / DIAGreenwood Village, Southeast Denver, Central Aurora
169LBuckley / Tower / DIASouth and East Aurora, Northeast Denver
145XBrighton / DIABrighton

skyRide services drop-off and pick-up from both the West and East side of the Jeppesen Terminal while the Express and Limited services drop-off only on the West side of the Terminal and pick-up only from the East side of the Terminal.

By 2015, RTD plans to build a commuter rail line from downtown Denver's Union Station through Aurora to DIA, as part of the FasTracks expansion program. Scheduled bus service is also available to points such as Fort Collins, Colorado and van services stretch into Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado summer and ski resort areas. Amtrak offers a Fly-Rail plan for ticketing with United Airlines for trips into scenic areas in the Western U.S. via a Denver stopover.

Accidents and incidents

See Stapleton International Airport for accidents and incidents prior to March 1995


There are several conspiracy theories relating to the airport's design and construction such as the runways being laid out in a shape similar to a swastika. Murals painted in the baggage claim area have been claimed to contain themes referring to future military oppression and a one-world government. However, the artist, Leo Tanguma, said the murals, entitled "In Peace and Harmony With Nature" and "The Children of the World Dream of Peace," depict man-made environmental destruction and genocide along with humanity coming together to heal nature and live in peace.[71]

Conspiracists have also seen unusual markings in the terminals in DIA and have recorded them as templar markings.[72] They have pointed to unusual words cut into the floor as being Satanic, Masonic, or some impenetrable secret code of the New World Order: Cochetopa, Sisnaajini and Dzit Dit Gaii.[73] These words are actually Navajo terms for geographical sites in Colorado. "Braaksma" and "Villarreal" are actually the names of Carolyn Braaksma and Mark Villarreal, artists who worked on the airport's sculptures and paintings.[74]

There is a dedication marker in the airport inscribed with words, "New World Airport Commission". It also is inscribed with the Square and Compasses of the Freemasons, along with a listing of the two Grand Lodges of Freemasonry in Colorado. It is mounted over a time capsule that was sealed during the dedication of the airport, to be opened in 2094. The Freemasons participated in laying this "capstone" (the last, finishing stone) of the airport project.[73]

Robert Blaskiewicz writing for Skeptical Inquirer Magazine states that conspiracies about the airport range from the "absurd to the even more absurd". When asking airport media representatives, 'what conspiracies are associated with the airport', they responded, "You name a conspiracy theory and somehow we seem to be connected to it." Blaskiewicz found that contrary to claims from conspiracy theorists that DIA will not discuss these stories with the public, they also give tours of the airport.[75]

Denver and jurisdictions surrounding the airport are involved in a protracted dispute over how to develop land around the facility. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock wants to add commercial development around the airport, but officials in Adams County believe doing so violates the original agreement that allowed Denver to annex the land on which the airport sits.[76]

See also


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External links