Denver International Airport, the largest land-area airport in the US, is the most convenient way to get in and out of Denver without driving through cornfields or mountains. Unfortunately, it’s not always the most convenient airport to get to or navigate through, but we’re here to help you with some tips and tricks for any upcoming travel plans.
The biggest problem with DIA is its location. When Denver’s Stapleton airport closed and eventually became a Denver neighborhood, Denver International Airport was built far, far away from the hustle and bustle of Denver. 25 miles outside Denver, DIA has completely different weather patterns, views and a whole lot of nothing surrounding it.
Getting to DIA is easy by car, if you don’t leave during rush hour times, and parking runs between $9-$25/day. For short trips, driving is going to be your best option. A cab or Uber will take the same amount of time, but can be around $40-$60 per trip from downtown. The Super Shuttle is also an option at only around $14 for a one-way trip, but it picks up multiple passengers so prepare to add extra time if you use it.
Public transit will take you longer, but it will save you money. At $9 for a one-way ticket, the A Line or the SkyRide will take you to the airport at all hours of the day. Be aware of long lines and changing schedules when using public transit.
Once you arrive at the airport, you’ll have to check in and hit security. Since the terminal has two ends, there is a security checkpoint at each end. During peak hours, both sides are open, but during early or late hours, you might get bottle necked at one end. Security typically takes around 20 minutes, but can vary drastically and it is better to arrive early. There is both a TSA Pre-Check lane and a Clear lane for those that pay to skip the lines.
The airport tram will take you to the A, B or C gates. Most international flights take off from the A gates, while United flights are usually at the B gates and Southwest leaves from the C gates.
Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take you to get to your gate at DIA. Besides security, the tram ride and the walk to your gate will easily add 20 minutes to your trip.
Because the gates are separated by a tram ride, you will likely be limited to eating whatever is in your gate area. The A Gates are by far the most sparse, with a McDonalds and KFC as fast food options and the Denver Chophouse as the nicest option.
The B Gates are a little better, with the Wolfgang Puck Express for fast casual eating. The C Gates have the best dining options, with Denver’s famous Root Down as the most coveted eating location in DIA. There will be a line at Root Down, no matter what time of day you go, so be aware that you can order items to go if you need to.
DIA has charging stations so you can charge your electronics before your flight, and there is free public Wi-Fi so you can check your emails before hitting airplane mode.