DIA: Rocky Mountain Low

Aug 14, 1995

A few weeks ago, I went to Colorado and gave an all-day presentation on marketing at the management retreat of a rapidly growing environmental consulting firm. I thought I’d share with our readers what it was like for me to use the new Denver airport for the fist time. The meeting was in Boulder. To get there, you have to fly into Denver International Airport. And although I don’t want to offend anyone who may have been involved in the design and planning of that facility, I have to say, as a flyer, I’ll take the old Stapleton Airport any day. First thing, immediately after getting off the plane, I had a problem with the airport directory in the terminal. After I walked a bit, uncertain about the direction I was heading, I found a huge glassed-in map. The “you are here” icon was clearly listed in the map legend. But neither I, nor anyone else studying the map at the time could find the icon on the map to determine where we actually were!!! Secondly, DIA is huge— it took me 25 minutes to get from my gate to the rental car bus! Then it took 10 minutes to get to the rental car location. And once I got in my car, it took me 20 minutes of driving before I saw anything even closely resembling civilization. I then drove for an hour or so to get to Boulder, on what are, for the most part, farm-to-market type two-lane roads! Upon my return, (of course I got somewhat off track on the way back), the first thing that struck me as a bit odd was that to get onto Pena Drive, the airport access road, I had to turn left and cross in front of 50-mile-per-hour oncoming traffic without a signal! Then, I discovered there wasn’t a gas station within miles of the place, so I couldn’t fill the tank of my rental car. After I drove what seemed like another several miles, I finally turned in my rental car to the biggest Hertz establishment I have ever seen. I got on the bus and rode back to the United terminal. I got out at the “United” sign and went inside. After failing to find a “flight information” screen anywhere, I rode the escalator up to “Ticketing.” At the top of the escalator, I saw signs pointing to a number of other airlines, but not United. I finally figured out that where I wanted to be was over my shoulder. The counter was behind me about 50 feet and over to one side! Once I figured out what gate I was supposed to be at, I started walking again. I ended up on an escalator that took me upstairs to a huge, empty mezzanine area, with nothing up there but a glassed-in smoking lounge. I went downstairs and waited for a train to take me to Terminal B. The train was so crowded, I was afraid to exhale for fear of not being able to take another breath! I finally got to my plane in time to find out our departure was going to be delayed due to minor mechanical problems. Next time, maybe I’ll drive in from Omaha. If my recollections are correct, they have a nice little airport there! Originally published 8/14/1995

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