Welcome to DFW airport. Not the same old Airport. Just the same old airport.
The accommodations are certainly nicer than they used to be. Clean, new carpets. The chairs have all been replaced over the last few years. The walls sparkle with an anesthetic whiteness that doesn’t make you think of a damn thing. Each terminal is still the size of a small third world country. But the signage is usually effective enough to keep you well informed about where you need to run.
Technology seems to be gaining a slow, grudging place in the endless corridors. Samsung has littered flat-screen TVs throughout the halls, broadcasting a nonstop feed of CNN. Internet is a joke, with just the occasional T-Mobile “hotspot”. “Executive kiosks” and web terminals sprout up here and there. DFW is immense enough that providing access in any form would be a major undertaking. But really… stick up a couple hundred repeating wifi routers above the drop ceilings. And plug it in to a redundant series of dedicated lines. Even a bandwidth bill of a couple thousand dollars a month would probably be less than what an institution like DFW pays for toilet paper in a month. But at least I have decent cell reception here, which I didn’t at Washington National.
I rode the new people-mover for the first time. The cars are larger, and much, much faster than the old trams. (I remember ticking off the minutes in my head as I imagined my connecting flight climbing into the air while I was still hoping to make it around a corner).
The choices for food are miserable. More so than even most mall food courts. Big cities tend to pride themselves on their airports, filling the halls with regional promotions, and information kiosks staffed by senior citizens in “traditional” costumes. So why is “Chili’s” about as exotic as the food gets? Does no one want to run a real restaurant with a guaranteed source of customers? Do you really want to only feed greasy food to people who are about to be locked in a small metal tube for 5 hours? (Maybe if they put coin locks on the bathroom doors…)
The intersections between terminals is a bit scary. I wandered from an intermittently populated B Terminal, into a zone so packed with travelers looking lobotamized traumatized, that you almost feel like you’re in the middle of an evacuation. But in this case, the lines are all pointed in, with people being ushered through security checkpoint to join the fray.
Gates may or may not be staffed. I’ve been here for about two hours, and have seen the ticket counter staff rotate in and out at least a half dozen times. A line formed, at one point, out beyond the rubber band barricades, while the only employee to be seen was cringing with his back to the customers, and head hung low, punching numbers on a handheld device, but not really seeming to do anything.