Fun and Games at DIA

By Julie Byerlein
info@travelkarma.org

I’ve been through Denver International Airport hundreds of times, and it’s without a doubt the best airport to travel through. During a holiday season of full flights and weather delays, if you have to be stuck, I can’t think of any other airport where I would rather be. What follows are the top 10 things I love about DIA.

I travel for business, a lot, and the trip starts when I park:

1) Josie:
There’s plenty of onsite long-term lots and some good drivers. If you are lucky you’ll get on Josie’s shuttle bus. She runs it with great pride and is really helpful; she explains the dropoff and access points well. I captured a pic of her in a Santa hat in mid December.

2) The Peeps:
I’ve gotten to know some of the gate agents—special shout out to Clark at United—and the great skycap team at Frontier; cold mornings yet warm attitudes. The Red Carpet Club, the Level 6 United check-in staff and the flight attendants I’ve gotten to know personally are all great.

3) Security:
Some of what I like is functional; there’s fast security (even with a large crowd), with plenty of space and tables to unpack your stuff, unload your laptop, shoes, and cosmetics. The security at DIA is so speedy that I often see gaps in the xray queue. I’ve written letters to the TSA to offer congrats on such an efficient operation – other airports should copy some of Denver’s best practices. Denver also benefits from another 20 feet after the screening machine to avoid a bottleneck situation. Oh, and don’t forget to admire those cute new TSA outfits.

4) Best unexpected art:
The building was built with art in mind; the commissioned works were integrated into the original floor plans, so it really fits nicely. The murals, sculptures, installations, and fossils in the floors all work together and in unexpected ways. I discover something new on each trip and am grateful for that. In fact, there is a beautiful new mini catalog (about 5” square) available at the concourse help desk that is, it can serve as a guide on your next DEN journey. I took a picture of the help desk signing it!

There are also temporary art shows to fill your time on the way to your plane. For instance, “Colorado: See the New West Like a Local” is up through January of 2009 on the bridge to Concourse A. This exhibit is accessible while you wait to pick up folks, since it is before security.

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5) Alone time with giant pretzels:
Some airports have some interesting shops and places to relax, but most are outside of security. Once you glide through the best security screening in America (for a major airport!), you’ll have plenty of distractions within the concourses. Wide concourses make it easy to maneuver. The overall spaciousness and high ceilings and expansive windows make it so comfortable. There are also nooks and crannies to plop down and even grab a few winks.

6) The opportunity to give away candy:
Given my hundreds of trips, I find many ways to amuse myself (and others) with seasonal adventures. I like to find fun places to hide Easter Eggs or heart stickers, literally. I’ll hide Candy Canes with messages in December, heart stickers at Valentines Day (or anytime), and plastic Easter Eggs with messages and candy inside. I’ve even captured a few pics of some favorite placements. Time flies when you’re being sneaky!

7) The opportunity to give away money:
Frequently I have hosted the “Money Train” game show on the ride out to the concourses. I pose this question to riders: how many propellers are on the tunnel wall as you depart the terminal? This piece is one of the many public art projects at DIA and was designed by Antonette Rosato and William Maxwell. The correct answer is offered $5, or $1 for the closest answer. Riders are allowed to count the propellers while they ride and offer up their estimate before they leave. Correct Answer? 5280. Money well spent but rarely given!

8) Luggage
I seldom have to wait for checked luggage after deplaning. Don’t know if the automatic baggage system works or not. Don’t really care. My bags appear promptly and I find the bag claim staff quite helpful when I’ve had issues.

9) Where To Go
Visitor and Convention Bureau signage that was installed before the DNC is great; it’s consistent and impactful and provides good branding for the city. Some rotation for us regulars would be nice. Overall the signage to direct you where you need to go is good. Wish I could say the same about the city overall – now, there is an opportunity!

10) For No Go’s
The Denver Airport is also great for those waiting to pick someone up at the main terminal. The fountain is engaging to watch (not to mention the people). There’s a nice outside deck on the south side with access to great sights. And overall, the inside landscaping is consistently lush and well tended. Check out more public art in the way of Gary Sweeney’s “America Why I Love Her” and find something to chat about on the way home.

I seek new adventures on each and every trip; my journeys truly begin when I leave the house. It’s never the same experience twice. The ONLY constant across all my trips is parking near T3 shuttle stop in the east economy lot. That way, I don’t need to remember where the heck I parked. And I can always hope to see Josie behind the wheel.

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4 Responses to “Fun and Games at DIA”

  1. m g-lee Says:

    While I agree with all of your comments on DIA, as a heavy user of MSP (Minneapolis St. Paul) I feel they also deserve recognition. The TSA men all complemented my new ankle tatoo this summer, they wish me and the other passengers a happy Thankgiving, Hanukkah, Kwaanza or what ever the celebration of the day may be. They also work to make the security screening a non event, far different thn some airports i have been in (ATL, LAS…). There’s good shopping at the main terminal, we don’t have to take a tram to get to our concourse and we have moving walkways to get us to our plane on time.

  2. claire Says:

    Denver should definitely hire you as a tourism ambassador! How about writing a tour book?

  3. jules Says:

    You’ll never guess who I got to see this morning at 630am! OK, you probably will! Yes, I rode Josie’s warm and friendly bus on this cold morning. Sometimes a year passes and I don’t see her. Twice weeks apart! This will be a good travel day. Bring on the free direct TV (Summit member status!) and let me cozy up with the Sunday news shows.
    Happy Travels, all!

    Jules

  4. Rachelle Says:

    Julie:

    Amazing post. I love the idea of “the money train” game. What fun. I bet you make the day for everyone you come in contact with. Traveling has become some what of a drag, how nice that you are putting the fun back into traveling!

    Rachelle

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