Celebrate 50 years of DFW Airport with these major milestones and world records

DFW International Airport opened in 1974 and quickly rose to its status as the best large airport in North America.


Over 40,000 visitors showed up for the dedication of Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport on Sept. 23, 1973.

Photo courtesy of UTA Libraries/Ron Heflin

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a North Texas staple — that’s right, we’re talking about DFW Airport. The largest airport in the world at its opening in 1974, the transportation hub now sees an estimated 80 million travelers annually. Let’s dive into the major milestones and world records over the last half-century that solidified DFW Airport as one of the best.


Opened on January 13, 1974 as Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport, the hub was a compromise between the rivaled Greater Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas’ Love Field. When it was completed in 1973, the 11-sided Control Tower #1 was the tallest in the world, measuring 196 ft.

Sporting four terminals, three runways, and 56 gates, DFW Airport welcomed its first commercial flight American Airlines flight #341 — flying from New York via Memphis and Little Rock — exactly on time and ushered in a new era of transportation in North Texas.


In 1985, the airport was renamed the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport + the fourth, fifth, and sixth runways were added between 1983 and 1986. In 1989, DFW became the first commercial airport to host a space shuttle landing.


Just before the turn of the century, DFW Airport welcomed low-cost carrier services, bumping the airport to the world’s second busiest. In 1994, two new control towers were built + in 1997, it became the only airport in the world to have seven runways.


Terminal D opened in 2005, marking the airport’s largest single expansion with three runway extensions and the launch of the Skylink, the elevated inter-terminal railway + the world’s largest automated people mover guideway of its kind.


In the last decade, the airport had a record international expansion, reaching 46 international markets with non-stop service. In 2011, the Airports Council International named it the “Best Large Airport in North America,” a position it still holds today.


Today, travelers can fly non-stop to 193 domestic and 67 international destinations + the airport produces $37 billion in economic impact for the region. Work is underway for the first 15 gates of Terminal F, which are set to open in 2026.

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