Things You Should Know About the Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport (DEN) is the largest airport in the United States by land area, covering 53 square miles, and ranks among the busiest airports in the world. As the primary gateway to Denver, Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain West, DEN offers a wide range of services, amenities, and travel options for its passengers.

Passenger Services and Amenities

Denver International Airport (DEN) is committed to providing a comfortable and accessible experience for all passengers, regardless of their abilities or needs. The airport offers a wide range of services and amenities to ensure that every traveler can navigate the airport with ease and convenience.

Wheelchair Assistance and Accessibility Services

DEN provides comprehensive wheelchair assistance and accessibility services for passengers with mobility needs. These services include:

  • Wheelchair assistance from curbside to gate and gate to curbside
  • Electric cart service within the terminal for passengers who need assistance but do not require a wheelchair
  • Accessible restrooms, elevators, and parking spaces throughout the airport
  • TTY phones and visual paging systems for passengers with hearing impairments
  • Assistance with boarding and deplaning aircraft using lifts or ramps

Passengers can request wheelchair assistance or other accessibility services when booking their flight or by contacting their airline directly.

The Sunflower Hidden Disabilities Program

DEN participates in the Sunflower Hidden Disabilities Program, which is designed to discreetly identify passengers with hidden disabilities who may need additional support or understanding during their journey. Passengers can choose to wear a sunflower lanyard, which signals to airport staff that they may require extra assistance, patience, or accommodations. The program is voluntary and free of charge. Sunflower lanyards can be obtained at any of the airport’s information booths.

Medical Services

For passengers who require medical assistance or experience a medical emergency while at the airport, DEN offers several services:

  • First aid stations located throughout the terminal, staffed by trained medical professionals
  • Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available in various locations
  • A fully-equipped medical clinic, located on the sixth floor of the Jeppesen Terminal, which provides urgent care services and travel vaccinations

In case of a medical emergency, passengers or their companions should alert airport staff or call 911 immediately.

Water Bottle Filling Stations

As part of its commitment to sustainability and passenger convenience, DEN has installed water bottle filling stations on each of its three concourses. There are four stations on each concourse, located in the center of the concourse in each corner area. These stations allow passengers to easily refill their reusable water bottles, reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles. In the first year of operation, the stations filled the equivalent of 600,000 half-liter plastic bottles, effectively reducing waste while providing a convenient service for travelers.

Dining, Shopping, and Entertainment

In addition to these specialized services, DEN offers a wide variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options throughout its terminals and concourses. Passengers can choose from a diverse selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars, featuring both local and national brands. The airport also boasts an extensive retail offering, including duty-free shops, bookstores, clothing boutiques, and souvenir stores.

For passengers looking to relax or be entertained during their layover, DEN provides various amenities such as art exhibitions, live music performances, and children’s play areas. By offering these comprehensive services and amenities, Denver International Airport strives to create a welcoming, accessible, and enjoyable experience for all passengers, ensuring that their journey through the airport is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

International Travel and Connectivity

Denver International Airport (DEN) has established itself as a major hub for international travel, connecting passengers to a growing number of destinations around the world. The airport’s expanding global reach has been a key focus in recent years, with an emphasis on increasing connectivity to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Current International Destinations

As of 2023, DEN offers nonstop flights to 31 international destinations in 17 countries. These include:

  • Europe: London, Paris, Zurich, Munich, Dublin (starting May 17, 2024), and Reykjavik
  • Asia: Tokyo
  • Mexico and Central America: A dozen cities, including Mexico City and Panama City

In 2023, DEN handled a record 4 million international passengers, a 21.5% increase from the previous year. International passengers accounted for 5.2% of the airport’s total traffic, up from 4.6% in 2019.

Expansion to Africa and the Middle East

DEN has been actively working to expand its global reach, particularly to Africa and the Middle East. In April 2024, the airport announced a new nonstop flight to Istanbul, Turkey, which will be the longest flight from Denver at 6,130 miles. This new route, operated by Turkish Airlines, is expected to bring significant economic benefits to Colorado, with an estimated annual impact of $54 million and the creation of 350 new jobs. The flight will also open up connections to over 300 destinations worldwide through Turkish Airlines’ extensive network from its Istanbul hub.

DEN officials have been pursuing additional routes to Africa and the Middle East, with a primary goal of expanding air networks to these regions. In February 2023, a 21-person delegation from Denver visited Ethiopia to explore the possibility of starting service to Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines. The airport has also been working to secure nonstop access to other cities in Japan and Amsterdam.

Economic Impact and Global Relevance

The expansion of international travel at DEN has significant implications for the economic growth and global relevance of Denver, Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain West region. As J.J. Ament, president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, stated, “The imperative is that we continue to increase Denver’s global reach and the reach of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West. Being able to reach new parts of the world, growing parts of the world, is what is going to keep Colorado globally relevant.”

International connectivity is particularly important for businesses in the region, as it enables them to access new markets and opportunities. For example, Colorado companies specializing in energy infrastructure and climate resilience can apply their expertise around the world.

Future Growth and Potential

DEN’s international travel growth is part of a larger expansion project that includes adding nearly 40 gates across its three concourses and improving the customer experience through the Great Hall project. These investments ensure that the airport’s accessibility and capacity will continue to grow in the coming years.

As DEN CEO Phil Washington noted, “We’re being very ambitious in terms of increasing our global connections. I see us as the gateway to the United States because of our geographic location.”

With its strategic location, expanding route network, and ongoing investments in infrastructure, Denver International Airport is well-positioned to continue its growth as a major international hub, connecting the Rocky Mountain West to the world and driving economic growth in the region.

Conspiracy Theories and Marketing

Denver International Airport (DEN) has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories since its opening in 1995. These theories have ranged from secret underground bunkers and sinister artwork to extraterrestrial influences and New World Order connections. Rather than shying away from these theories, DEN has embraced them as a unique marketing opportunity, featuring exhibits, events, and social media campaigns that playfully acknowledge and engage with the conspiracies.

Origins of the Conspiracy Theories

The conspiracy theories surrounding DEN can be traced back to the airport’s construction in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Construction delays, financing difficulties, and a problematic automated baggage system led to speculation about the airport’s true purpose. Some theorists claimed that the airport’s runways formed swastikas as a tribute to the New World Order, while others pointed to a Freemasons crest on a dedication capstone as evidence of a hidden government connection. One of the most prominent conspiracy theories involves the airport’s artwork, particularly the “Blucifer” sculpture and the murals by artist Leo Tanguma. “Blucifer,” a 32-foot-tall blue mustang sculpture with glowing red eyes, has been associated with demonic and apocalyptic themes, fueled in part by the tragic death of its creator, Luis JimĂ©nez, who was killed when a piece of the sculpture fell on him during construction.

Embracing the Conspiracy Theories

In recent years, DEN has decided to embrace these conspiracy theories as part of its identity and as a way to connect with passengers. The airport has used the theories in its marketing campaigns, installing playful signs that reference the conspiracies and even creating a temporary exhibition called “Conspiracy Theories Uncovered” in 2016. The exhibition featured video, artwork, props, and more, explaining some of the most pervasive airport conspiracy theories and the “real” explanations behind them. Visitors could explore compilations of all things mysterious, sinister, and strange associated with DEN. DEN’s marketing team has also leveraged social media to engage with the conspiracy theories. The airport’s Twitter account often posts tongue-in-cheek references to the theories, and staff members have even taken journalists on tours of the airport’s underground tunnels to playfully address the rumors of secret bunkers and hidden facilities.

Benefits of Embracing the Theories

By embracing the conspiracy theories, DEN has been able to generate significant public interest and free publicity. The airport’s unique approach to marketing has helped differentiate it from other airports and has created memorable, engaging experiences for travelers. According to Heath Montgomery, the airport’s former senior public information officer, the conspiracy theories have translated to an estimated “hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars” in free publicity for the airport. However, some of the most ardent conspiracy theorists remain convinced that the airport is hiding sinister activities in plain sight. The airport has been careful not to engage with some of the more controversial or sensitive theories, such as those related to Nazism or fascism.

Denver International Airport’s decision to embrace and playfully engage with the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding it has proven to be a successful marketing strategy. By acknowledging the theories through exhibits, events, and social media campaigns, DEN has generated significant public interest, differentiated itself from other airports, and created memorable experiences for travelers. While some conspiracy theorists remain convinced of the airport’s sinister nature, DEN’s approach to marketing has allowed it to turn a potential liability into a unique opportunity for engagement and publicity.