DENVER (CBS4) – Denver International Airport is the largest international airport by land area in the United States. It also takes the title for the 20th busiest airport in the world and the fifth-busiest airport in the United States (61.4 million passengers traveled through the airport in 2017). But while these titles may make for fun facts, it can also leave some room for confusion when trying to navigate the airport.
Denver International Airport
Airport code: DEN
8500 Pena Blvd
Denver, CO 80249
Clearly, DIA is a massive airport that is always busy and can see millions of passengers at any time during the year. With so much traffic, navigating such a busy airport can be difficult for even the most seasoned traveler. However, Denver International Airport can be very easy to get through, as long as you give yourself plenty of time and understand that you’ll be waiting in a few lines.
As you plan your next trip through DIA, here are a few tips to help make your trip headache-free.
Floors At DIA
One of the more confusing things about Denver International Airport are the six different levels or floors and how each is used. This is all changing in a few years, but currently Level 6 is the top one and it’s dedicated to passenger drop-offs. As you move down a level, each one is dedicated to something different. Level 5 is the baggage claim level, while level 4 is for passenger pick-up. It’s a good idea, if you have someone picking you up, to remind them that Level 4 is the level for pick-up, and to be sure everyone is on the same page. Then you won’t have one of those frustrating situations where your ride keeps circling the airport and is unable to find you.
The A Line From DIA To Union Station
The Regional Transportation District offers an easy way to get from DIA to Union Station in downtown Denver and back. A Line trains depart from a station accessible a few steps (and a long escalator ride) from the south end of the Jeppeson Terminal. For information on the fares and to see the schedule, visit RTD’s website. RTD also offers bus service from DIA to different parts of the Denver metro area.
Riding The Underground Train
The airport is so huge that there is an underground train that runs from each of the three concourses (A, B & C) to the main terminal and back again. The train is about a five minute ride from one end to the other, and it moves pretty quickly. It’s also large enough that you should be able to find a space to stand comfortably with your baggage without feeling too crowded. If you need to sit, or if you’re uncomfortable standing on a moving train, be sure to enter the very back of the train and you’ll find a large area for sitting while the train is in motion.
Security can be difficult at every airport, and at Denver International Airport, which is one of the busiest in the country, it can take time. Just be patient and be sure to arrive with plenty of time to navigate the security lines. There are two security areas in the terminal (South and North) and a third at the entrance to the A Concourse (going through this security line allows you to walk across a bridge that planes taxi under). As with all airport security lines, it will move a little faster if you’re prepared when you get to the front of the line. Empty your pockets, don’t bring liquids through the check point, remove your coat and shoes and make sure your laptop or computer is in its own bin. There are usually three different screening lines to choose from as well, so the long lines can move pretty quickly, especially if everyone is prepared.
Despite some of the rumors about the baggage claim system that date back to when Denver International Airport first opened, the baggage claim system here is actually very efficient. You’ll have a pretty good distance to travel from the time you get off your plane to when you arrive at baggage claim, but with the train and the moving sidewalks, you’ll barely notice it. Baggage claim is on Level 5 of the terminal and you’ll see that there are different carousels for each airline. Simply check the television monitors to find out which carousel your luggage will be arriving on and you should have no trouble getting your bags.
Westin Denver International Airport Hotel
There are 519 rooms at the Westin Denver International Airport, which is connected to the airport’s terminal. It includes a lounge and a conference center. The hotel was completed in 2015.
Garage, Economy Parking & Shuttle Lots
Travelers have several different options for parking at the airport, and there is a different price for each option. There are several private services that offer parking, but the lots maintained by the airport are the garage, economy and shuttle lots. The garage is the most expensive and it located on the east and west side of the terminal. The economy lots are also located on the east and west side but they aren’t covered and it’s a longer walk to get inside the terminal. If travelers are parking at shuttle lots, Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert, they can take part in the free bag drop service. Passengers can drop off their bags to be checked and receive their boarding pass before they park. Shuttle lots are the cheapest parking option, but travelers should budget extra time if they choose to park there. DIA also offers free vehicle services which include jump starts, tire inflation and car key retrieval. For any of these services, call (303) 342-4645, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The original version of this article originally appeared on CBSDenver.com in 2015 and was written by Deborah Flomberg at Examiner.