Review of Denver’s new upscale cell phone waiting lot

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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Jennver, a Denver–based points enthusiast.  The best way to gauge a frequent flyer’s obsession level is to ask them how many Lufthansa First Class legs they’ve flown in the last year.  Jennver clocks in at an impressive five so we know she means business.

Denver Airport launched a snazzy new waiting area this week and I was among the first to explore the new facility.

If you’re wondering why a new waiting area is so important, all you would have had to do is show up at DIA on most afternoons and evenings, and once on Pena Boulevard you’d instantly know why.  The road from the exit to the waiting area parking lot would back up not only onto the exit ramp, but it continued to back up onto Pena Blvd, where cars are approaching at 65+mph and the right lane is at a complete stop.  And as if a line isn’t bad enough, it was a slow moving line, a very slow moving line!  Often times it would be minutes before one car would leave, another could enter, and you’d move up one spot in the line.  Not too encouraging if you were 15-20 cars away from the entrance, and had no way out of line except to wait it out.

As you approach the exit for the old “waiting area” at DIA you’ll notice that the turn-off from the exit is blocked although the waiting area still exists in its true form: dirt parking lot with a limited number of spaces and port-a-potties.  Take a deep breath as you drive past the road closed signs and turn left at the signal.  (If you were to go straight you’d end up at the Pikes Peak long-term parking lot).

same exit

old toilets

Once you turn left, you go under Pena Blvd. then take your first left into the new DIA waiting area.  I don’t know what a great waiting lot should look like, but this is not what I would imagine!  I would expect a parking lot, probably bigger than the old one, that was paved, and that’s it.  Bathrooms would be a plus.  The new waiting area has a huge parking lot (accommodates more than 250 cars), and has a new building next to the existing gas station.  The building is nice looking, and reminds me of an upscale roadside rest area (the ones that have restaurants, gas stations etc.).

parking lot 2

final approach

While walking up to the building I noticed a nice sized patio out front which is perfect for 90% of the days and nights in Colorado when it is just too nice to sit inside!  There are nice outdoor chairs on the patio (some blown over in the picture because we had really strong winds that night).  I could definitely see myself enjoying the free wifi out there while enjoying a snack or drink (maybe coffee and doughnuts ;)) and gazing at the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

patio out front

When you walk inside (I came in the East side entrance) you are immediately blown away.  There are multiple food and beverage options as well as real restrooms, plenty of seating (both tables, benches and lounge seating on the west side), multiple televisions playing the current sporting events and (what shocked me the most, and what I wasn’t expecting) arrival and departure boards identical to the ones inside the DIA terminal!  For food, you can choose between Subway, zpizza, Baja Fresh or Dunkin Doughnuts.  Not to mention, for those late night arrivals or unexpected delays causing you to arrive to the airport at the wee hours, you will be glad to hear that Dunkin Doughnuts is the metro area’s first 24-hour Dunkin Doughnuts store in years.  For the parents out there, there is a children’s seating area with iPads built into the tables!  What a great way to entertain your kids instead of constantly making driving loops around the airport or sitting in your car with your children.  Another perk that you can’t see is the free wi-fi!  Not only does it work inside the building but also in the expansive parking lot!  This is great for those that don’t want to get out of their car, but have a device that uses wi-fi that they can use to entertain themselves while they are waiting.

inside 2

The bottom line

What more could someone ask for while waiting for a friend, loved one, co-worker etc. to arrive!  A great seating area both inside and out, real bathrooms, food and drink choices, sports, a current arrivals/departures board, an area for your kids to play AND wi-fi!!  Next time I go to pick someone up, instead of leaving at my “scientifically formatted time” so I arrive at passenger pickup just minutes after they walk out, I think I will leave early so I can relax in the comfort of Final Approach either inside or out.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at

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  1. Glad to see they revamped the waiting area: you are right it was horrible before. Now if they could only figure out how to move the airport closer to the city instead of how ridiculously far out it currently is!

  2. Not convinced yet, the problem is that compared to the old lot it seems like a bigger time investment. I didn’t ever encounter more than a 5 min wait at the old lot. More people may be inclined to skip the cell phone lot altogether and just circle the terminal or park illegally. I do like Dunkin Donuts though.

  3. @Corky
    The lot and building are owned by a third party developer, so they have no reason or ability to fix anything in the terminal.

  4. They took something which was somewhat convenient and made it significantly more inconvenient. I’m coming to the airport to quickly and conveniently pick someone up not to get junk food. It now is causing more people to wait illegally on the side, as I passed 4 including a school bus on the way to the terminal. I guess they found a job for the guy who designed the automated baggage system!

  5. I love it. If your arriving passenger’s baggage is late, you may have a longer wait than anticipated. Restrooms and arrival info are invaluable. And air conditioning on a hot day. That car gets stuffy and boring. BUT, some signage for getting back to the airport is needed. Two time out of the three I’ve been there I’ve ended up going south on Pena. It’s not easy to see which way to go to end up heading north. (the sort of good news is that it wasn’t too far to Tower to get turned around going the right way.)

  6. FILTHY FACILITY. I thought the new lot/rest facility was a GREAT idea, then I went inside. While the cleaning woman was just exciting the women’s restroom having just “cleaned” it – it was GROSS. Used tampon applicator on the flloor, wet floor smeared with dirt and grime. YUK!!! Left quickly, certainly wouldn’t get food there if the same cleaning crew works the whole place. YUK!!!

  7. So inconvenient. Using the old lot, I used to be able to get to the terminal about 4 minutes after my party called. Now it takes about 15. Not a fan and not using it. Will circle instead.

  8. The cell phone lot at DIA is HORRIBLE! for so many reasons! It’s NORTH of Peña, should be on the south side! I’ve never seen something so stupid! So crowded, packed with cars, tiny slots to park in – a fender bender waiting to happen because the driving lanes are tight. If that’s not enough the environment is completely gross and getting back onto Peña from it takes forever! What were they thinking?! Goodness.

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