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Making the Most of Your Layover at the Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport

September 30th, 2009

dfw-airport.jpgIf you run into a long stopover at Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW) the usual services are available, and they’re not too inconvenient for the traveling customer.

Like the stereotype about Texas, though, DFW is huge. Just walking around from location to location can be very time consuming. Walking around DFW and lugging your carry-on baggage during a flight layover can be exhausting. Each terminal has two skylink stops — that’s the free, terminal-connecting airport train. But each terminal has over thirty departure gates. It can be a long walk from a skylink stop to your departure gate. Consider flagging down a roving skycap mobile — the drivers work for tips though, so be generous.

If you want to get online, DFW Wi-Fi is available for a fee, but there’s a way around the fee. T-Mobile offers Wi-Fi access at all gates and all baggage claim areas, but they charge a $9.99 fee. Travelers can also rent laptops by the hour from PowerPort rentals at gates A13, B12, C12, D12, D30, and E11. Meanwhile, free Internet kiosks are available in at least three locations in each terminal. That’s free Internet access, USB, and power ports for your laptop, at a seat in a mini cubicle while you browse, for use by all DFW passengers.

You can also charge your electronics devices in secure lockers — and there’s a way around that fee too. PowerPort stations, scattered through the airport terminals, let you put your electronic devices in secure lockers, and wander around while the devices power up. However, if you are willing to stay with your phone while it charges, free power and free USB charging ports are available at seventeen workstations that are scattered in Terminals A through E.

You can see a movie while you sit around at DFW — and keep watching it on the plane. In Motion Entertainment is an air travel movie rental company that has three kiosk locations in DFW Terminals D and E. You can rent DVD players and keep them to take along on the plane. Many airports offer drop slots for returning In Motion equipment more easily than Blockbuster, but the rental also comes with a self-addressed, prepaid envelope so you can return the DVD players and movies from any mailbox.

DFW also offers unusual options for spending time in an airport. Several unstructured hours in a row are precious for most people. Some of the services and provisions could be rare opportunities for passengers stuck at DFW. If you have an unexpected delay at the DFW airport, you have several options that you might not expect to find on the other side of a security check point.

For example, spa massage services are available in three different terminals! How many hours have you spent imagining the massage you plan to treat yourself to, once your stressful journey ends? How great is it to be able to treat yourself to a neck, back, or full body massage in the middle of your suddenly less stressful journey? For shorter layovers and for budget constraints, there are sixteen mechanical massaging lounge chairs in the five terminals.

Remember, whatever you fill your time with during your air travel stopover, you must make sure to be near your departure gate well over thirty minutes before your flight. You are almost sure to have carry-on luggage with you as well.

If your carry-on luggage is light, take a look at the Dallas Ft. Worth art installations. The DFW art walk is only for the truly long layover, or perhaps a reason to plan a very early arrival. A catalog of the sculptures and installations can be found at the airport website, along with the tour registration and schedule information.

If you know about your long stopover in advance, consider signing up for the Airport Art Program walking tour on the DFW website. The art tour is free, invigorating, and thought provoking, but it takes between 60 and 90 minutes, and will take you outside the secure passenger zone, requiring you to pass through security screening all over again when it’s time to catch your plane.

Finally, if you’re hungry, DFW offers three different barbecue restaurant menus, at six different locations around the terminals. You’re in Texas, after all, so this ought to be good — and it just might be inevitable.


Jessica Ruth Goldberg is an author who writes about about film, television, theater, travel, tourism, and a wide variety of other topics.


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