In 1974, as Dallas/Fort Worth Airport opened to serve as the main regional airport and airlines moved their flights across town to the new facility, apart from one. Southwest AIrlines decided that their home at Love Field was the best way to service their customers, and from that moment on, the history of the airport would be tumultuous.
In 1979, the Wright Amendment, named after Fort Worth Congressman Jim Wright, set about restricting the airport to certain limitations. As the years went on, the amendment has had a number of changes, easing some of the restrictions.
The Wright Amendment originally restricted airlines with aircraft of greater than 56 seats to only fly services within Texas, or to the four neighboring states of New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Southwest expanded their services out to those states, but the amendment was a severe restriction on their ability to really become the airline that they wanted.
As the years went on, further changes were made, adding Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, and eventually Missouri to the state list. The biggest changes came in 2006 though, when the repeal of the Wright Amendment began. Although the original changes in 2006 would allow through-ticketing (previously, if you wanted to fly say Dallas to Denver, you would need to have two separate tickets, one to get you to an intermediary city like Albuquerque or Kansas City, the other onto Denver). Eventually, in 2014, the 2006 amendment/repeal would allow long-haul flights directly out of Dallas Love Field.
When the distance restrictions on Love Field will lift on October 13th, 2014, the airport needed to be ready and modernize. Renovations were started in 2009 to bring the airport to a whole new level, one that I got to experience on my recent trip to Dallas.
The airport’s new concourse was opened earlier this year, with the last piece of the puzzle being the baggage claim area that opened in late September, right in time for the big day in October.
When you step through one of the 20 gates at the airport you walk in to an extremely modern facility. The airport looks spectacular – all around you can find high-resolution Flight Information Display Screens (FIDS).
The majority of the gate areas are set up in the Southwest fashion, with a shared customer service desk between a few gates and individual boarding lines and podiums at each.
The main thing that strikes your eye as you walk through is the quality of the facilities. All-new food and shopping outlets line the main terminal. A lot of local options are present, with fast-casual food like Whataburger or Dickey’s Barbeque. This gives the terminal a more local feel, where Texans know they can get a good taste of home, or tourists can know they are getting something the locals would eat (apparently Whataburger is quite good, though I never tried it).
Walking through the food court area (if you could call it that) there is a large art piece hanging from the ceiling. What caught my eye with this piece is that inside the actual structure you could see cutouts of aircraft and other travel related items — awesome!
As you exit the airside area, the first thing you see is a Dunkin Donuts. This seems to me like a great idea, as all passengers leaving the terminal come out through this one choke point. This gives friends and family somewhere to wait for their loved ones as they come off their flight.
As you come down the escalators to the ground floor, this is where the ticketing desks, check-in areas, security, and baggage claim are located. All have been refurbished and the security area, in particular, is large and has plenty of lanes, giving you the ability to pass through quickly, even without status or pre check.
The new baggage areas was the last part of the refurbishment to open and it looks great. Compared to the older temporary facility that I saw when I passed through, the new area is spacious, large, and has a unique look to it.
All the new facilities at the airport mean that when the Wright Amendment restrictions end on October 13th, this facility will be world-class, ready to usher in a new era of flying to Dallas.