Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is the fourth busiest airport in the U.S., serving over 69 million passengers in 2018. The airport is bigger than Manhattan and is so large that it has its own ZIP code. Despite its size, it’s an easy airport to navigate with a convenient light rail service running between all terminals.
DFW is the main hub for American Airlines with the airline solely occupying 3 of the 5 terminals.
Here’s all the information you need to know how to navigate DFW and ensure you get to your gate efficiently.
DFW Airport Layout
DFW was designed to reduce traffic congestion within the terminals and therefore speed up services such as the Terminal Link shuttle bus. The terminals are all accessible individually from the International Parkway/ State Highway Spur 97 that runs from north to south of the airport.
The terminals are shaped as semicircles, apart from terminal D, with parking lots, ground transportation and pre-security departure and arrival facilities situated on the inside of the semicircle. The departure gates and Skylink train are located post-security on the outside of the semicircle where only ticketed passengers are permitted.
Terminals C and D have airport hotels either located within the terminal or just outside the terminal. Each terminal has its own shops, cafes, lounges, and restaurants with the widest selection being in Terminal D, also known as the international terminal
DFW Ground Transportation Pre-Security
Terminal Link Shuttle Bus
In some situations, you may need to connect between terminals outside of the secure area, and the best way to do this is via the free Terminal Link shuttle bus. The Terminal Link shuttle bus stops at all terminals from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. with an out-of-hours service available by calling 972-574-5465.
Buses operate every 10 minutes from the departures level of each terminal, excluding Terminal D where pick-up and drop-off are from the arrivals level. There are 2 pick-up points at each terminal signposted “Terminal Link”.
Terminal Link shuttle buses operate from:
- Terminal A – Departures Level
- Entrance A10 for Gate A1 through Gate A20 and DFW Airport DART Rail Station
- Entrance A29 for Gate A21 through Gate A39
- Terminal B – Departures Level
- Entrance B14 for Gate B1 through Gate B25
- Entrance B43 for Gate B26 through Gate B49 and DFW Airport TEXRail Station
- Terminal C (Departures Level)
- Entrance C4 for Gate C1 through Gate C20
- Entrance C30 for Gate C21 through Gate C39
- Terminal D (Arrivals Level)
- Entrance at Lower Level D17 for Gate D1 through Gate D22
- Entrance at Lower Level D29 for Gate D23 through Gate D40
- Terminal E (Departures Level)
- Entrance E14 for Gate E2 through Gate E18
- Entrance E35 for Gate E20 through Gate E38
DFW Ground Transportation Post-Security
DFW has a convenient airside people mover called Skylink, with 2 Skylink stations located at either end of each terminal depending on which gate you need to reach. The Skylink is free to use and operates clockwise and counter-clockwise, so you can choose the direction with the quickest journey to your desired terminal.
Trains depart every 2 minutes, and it takes a maximum of 9 minutes to travel between the furthest points. The Skylink runs post-security for the full journey, so passengers need to clear security to utilize this transportation.
Skylink stations are located:
- Terminal A
- Between Gate A13 and Gate A16
- Between Gate A29 and Gate A34
- Terminal B
- Between Gate B9 and Gate B12
- Between Gate B28 and Gate B31
- Terminal C
- Between Gate C8 and Gate C12
- Between Gate C27 and Gate C32
- Terminal D
- Between Gate D11 and Gate D20
- Between Gate D24 and Gate D34
- Terminal E
- Between Gate E8 and Gate E11
- Between Gate E31 and Gate E32
Layout of DFW Terminals
DFW Terminal A
Terminal A is located on the east side of the airport, opposite Terminal B and next to Terminal C. There are 26 gates numbered A8 through A11, A13 though A25, A28, A29, and A33 through A39, with the lower numbered gates located at the north of the semicircle through to the higher numbered gates at the south.
Terminal A is connected to Terminals B and C via post-security walkways if you’re looking to walk between terminals.
To reach Terminal B, you can cross over the Skylink tunnel, with moving walkways, that is located opposite Gate A39, up the escalator/elevator at the south end of Terminal A. To reach Terminal C from Terminal A, walk along the connector tunnel, with moving walkways, that is located next to Gate A39 on the same level.
If you would prefer to take the Skylink train between terminals, then the Terminal A stations are located between Gates A13 and A16 and between Gates A29 and A34 up the escalator/elevator on Level 3.
If you have to exit the secure area, then you can pick-up the Terminal Link shuttle bus from outside the terminal on the departures level, entry/exit A10 for Gates A1-A20 and entry/exit A29 for Gates A21-A39.
Hot Tip: If you’re connecting from the higher numbered gates of Terminal A to the lower numbered gates of Terminals B or C, then it may be quicker for you to walk rather than catching the Skylink, due to the locations of the Skylink stations.
DFW Terminal B
Terminal B has 45 gates numbered B1 through B11, B12A, B12B, B14 through B17, B19, B21 through B22, and B24 through B49 with the higher numbered gates located at the north of the terminal and the lower numbered gates at the south. The terminal is situated on the west side of the airport, opposite Terminal A and beside Terminal D, both of which are accessible by the Skylink train or connecting walkways.
To reach Terminal A by foot, take the escalator/elevator near Gate B4 to Level 3 and cross over the Skylink using the moving walkways. To reach Terminal D, continue around the corner near Gate B4, past Gates B1 and B3 through the walkway until you reach Terminal D. There are no moving walkways on this route.
To reach Terminal C by foot, walk across the connector bridge to Terminal A and take a right at gate A39 to walk through the walkway to Terminal C.
The Skylink train stations are located between Gates B9 and B12 and between Gate B28 and B31, where you take the escalator/elevator to Level 3 to access the train. The Skylink train can transport you to other terminals if you can remain airside; however, if you leave the secure area, then take the Terminal Link shuttle bus from outside the terminal at the Departures Level, near entry/exit B14 for Gates B1-B25 or B43 for Gates B26-B49.
Hot Tip: It may be quicker for you to walk than take the Skylink train if you’re connecting from the lower numbered gates of Terminal B to the higher numbered gates of Terminals A or D. Check where the Skylink stations are located in relation to your gate number to help make your decision.
DFW Terminal C
Terminal C is located on the east side of the airport, opposite Terminal D with Terminal A and Terminal E on either side. Terminal C is connected to Terminals A and D via airside walkways but is not connected to Terminal E.
There are 28 gates in Terminal C numbered C2, C4, C6 through C8, C10 through C12, C14 through C17, C19 through C22, C24, C26 through C31, C33, C35 through C37, and C39, with the lower numbered gates in the north of the terminal and the higher number gates in the south.
To connect to Terminal A by foot, follow the walkway around to the right after Gate C2, or to connect to Terminal D, take the escalator/elevator near Gate C2 to Level 3 and walk across the Skylink connector bridge. To connect to any of the terminals, you can ride the Skylink train, with stations accessible between Gates C8 and C12 or between Gates C27 and C32.
Hot Tip: If you’re connecting from the lower numbered gates of Terminal C to the higher numbered gates of Terminals A or D, it might be quicker to walk instead of taking the Skylink train. You may even find it quicker to walk to Gates B1-B3 as these gates are located in the walkway between Terminals D and B.
DFW Terminal D
Terminal D consists of 28 gates numbered D5 through D8, D10 through D12, D14 through D18, D20 through D25, D27 through D31, D33, D34, D36 through D38, and D40, with the higher numbered gates at the northern end of the terminal and the lower numbered gates at the southern end.
Terminal D is located on the west side of the airport, opposite Terminal C and beside Terminal B with both connected via airside walkways.
To reach Terminal B from Terminal D, walk past Gate D40 and follow the walkway around to the hallway between the 2 terminals. This is on the same level as departures and connects to the departures area of Terminal B with the lower gate numbers.
The Skylink train can be picked up between Gates D11 and D20 or between Gates D24 and D34 and stops at all terminals.
As Terminal D operates international flights, it is likely that on arrival you will end up outside of the secure area after clearing customs and immigration. If you have a flight connection with your bags checked to your final destination, then you can re-check these at the flight connections bag drop area, re-clear security, and ride the Skylink to your connecting terminal.
If you have to connect outside of security, then you can ride the Terminal Link shuttle bus from outside of Terminal D. These depart regularly from the arrivals level at entry/exit D17 for Gates D1-D22 and D29 for Gates D23-D40.
Hot Tip: If you’ve booked 2 separate tickets and are connecting with American Airlines, then you will be able to check-in for your connecting flight at the American desk in Terminal D. You can then re-clear security and ride the Skylink train from Terminal D to your connecting terminal, rather than catching the Terminal Link shuttle bus that can be slower.
DFW Terminal E
Terminal E is the only terminal that is not connected to another terminal with any walkways and is located on the east side of the airport next to Terminal C.
Terminal E has 28 gates numbered E2, E4 through E18, E20, E21, E22A, E22B, E23A, E23B, E24A, E24B, E25A, E25B, E26, E27A, E27B, E28, E29A, E29B, and E30 through E38. The lower numbered gates are located at the northern end of the terminal and the higher numbered gates at the southern end.
Gates E22A, E22B, E23A, E23B, E24A, E24B, E25A, E25B, E26, E27A, E27B, E28, E29A, E29B, and E30 are located at Terminal E’s satellite terminal that is accessible via an underground tunnel near Gate E21.
Terminal E is connected to the other terminals via the Skylink train. However, if you are connecting to Terminal E from outside of the secure area of another terminal, then you wouldn’t be able to access the train as the stations are located post-security.
To connect to Terminal E outside of the secure area, you’ll need to ride the Terminal Link shuttle bus from outside of the terminal at entry/exit E14 serving Gates E2-E18 or E35 serving Gates E20-E38. If you’re connecting airside from Terminal E, the Skyline train stations are located between Gates E8 and E11 or between Gates E31 and E32.
Hot Tip: If you’re flying American Eagle from the satellite terminal, allow an additional 10 minutes to reach your gate.
Estimated Walking Times Between Terminals
Although the Skylink train is usually the quickest way to get between terminals at DFW, in some situations it may be quicker to walk. For example, if your flight arrives into the higher numbered gates of Terminal A and your connection is at a lower-numbered gate of Terminal B, then these gates are easily accessible via a walkway.
There’s no hard and fast rule for this as it depends entirely on the location of your arrival and departures gates and whether these are close to a Skylink station, so it’s worth checking the map.
The estimated walking times below are based on the closest points of each terminal so you will need to factor in a little extra time to reach your gate:
- 5-10 minutes:
- From Terminal A to Terminal B; moving walkways available
- From Terminal A to Terminal C; moving walkways available
- From Terminal B to Terminal D; moving walkways unavailable
- From Terminal C to Terminal D; moving walkways available
- 10-20 minutes:
- From Terminal A to Terminal D; moving walkways available
- From Terminal B to Terminal C; moving walkways available
Flight Connections at DFW
As with all U.S. airports, if you are arriving on an international flight, then you will need to clear customs and immigration upon arrival; that means picking up your bag from Baggage Claim. If you booked a combined ticket, or your bags are checked to an onward destination, then you will be able to drop them at the flight connections bag drop area.
If you have booked separate tickets, then you will need to re-check your bag at the applicable airlines’ check-in desk. In any case, you will have to re-clear security to enter the other terminals, and once you do, you can make use of the Skylink train to reach your connecting terminal.
If you’re connecting from a domestic flight, then you won’t need to clear customs and immigration, and you can remain airside to connect to your next terminal, unless you’re flying from Terminal E where no airside connections are available.
DFW terminals are accessible to passengers with disabilities, mobility concerns, and wheelchair users. The Skylink is fully accessible at each station by elevator, with dedicated seating areas onboard each train for passengers with mobility impairments.
Terminal Link shuttle buses and shuttles to/from the rental car center or parking lots are wheelchair accessible, and for use in the terminal, wheelchairs can be requested through the individual airlines.
DFW is a busy airport for flight connections due to its central position and 4 hour flight time to most continental U.S. cities.
Every terminal at DFW, other than Terminal E, is connected to another with airside walkways and connector bridges, so it’s possible to walk between flight connections if you have time or are looking to stretch your legs between flights.
Passengers looking for the fastest and most convenient way to get between terminals can ride the Skylink train, operating every 2 minutes from each terminal with a train running clockwise and another running counter-clockwise to ensure you’re going in the right direction.