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Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)


American MD-80 departing on 17R. View from Founders' Plaza.

Many are beginning to predict that sometime this decade, DFW will take over the title of "worldís busiest airport." It's a valid prediction, as two of the countryís biggest airlines, American and Delta, have hubs there (American's presence is much more dominant). International traffic is at a minimum, but plenty of Americanís big boys, including the 777ís, can be found there.

DFW has a rather unusual layout...three terminals on the east side of the airport and one on the west, all shaped like semi-circles facing several parallel north-south runways. It has a very nice interior and a very clean facility. Traffic, as the statistics would suggest, is very heavy indeed and is made up mostly of MD-80ís, 737ís and 757ís. But there are also plenty of 767ís and 777's and 767's from Delta.


American MD-80 on short final for 17C. View from the North Shuttle Parking Lot.

INDOORS:
-DFW Hyatt. One great place to do some spotting at DFW is at the DFW Hyatt Hotel. The hotel is located in the heart of the airport behind Terminal C and offers a very affordable weekend rate. The hotel has two separate buildings, so you can choose which side of the field youíd like to view the action from. The rooms are spacious and come with a small deck where you can sit in the sun and watch the action.
-Inside the terminals, DFW offers next to nothing that can hold any real interest. If you like viewing or taking pictures of planes at the gate, then DFW is a lot of fun (but then again, what airport doesnít give you such a view?), but in terms of catching the action on the runways, the terminals arenít much to crow about. Head to Terminal C (formerly known as Terminal 3E), where you can find a few varying spots that offer some view of the action on 17C/35C.


Delta 767 departing on 17R. View from the DFW Hyatt.

OUTDOORS:
-Foundersí Plaza. DFW may be a dud indoors, but outdoors, itís paradise. Situated on the southeast end of the field is Foundersí Plaza, it is possibly the most highly-touted public spotting area in the country. Complete with a loudspeaker which broadcasts tower communications and an aircraft recognition guide, the Plaza is more than just another parking lot, itís a genuine effort to reach out to aircraft enthusiasts nationwide. Provides a good view of the eastern half of the airport and is especially fun when aircraft are approaching from the south.
-North Shuttle Parking Lot. On days when traffic is approaching from the north, take the shuttle bus up to the reduced rate lot on the north side of the airport to get a good glimpse of the approaches, especially those on the west side of the field.
-West Terminal Reduced Rate Lot (the "Green" Lot). On the west side of the field adjacent to the Hyatt Hotel, there is a reduced rate parking lot that gives you a good view of the action on the west side of the field. Be careful, though...security is a bit more tight around these parts.


American MD-80 departing on 18R. View from the "Green" Lot.

PRE-9/11 SECURITY REPORT:
At Foundersí Plaza, the best place at the airport for spotting, security will never touch you...spotting and photography is encouraged. At either of the two aforementioned parking lots, the north shuttle lot and the West Terminal reduced rate lot, I have never even seen a security guard let alone been bothered by one but Iíve heard of others being told to leave. I guess I was lucky (or maybe others were unlucky). Be careful...Iíve never had any problems with security there, but other people have.

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