Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

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Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Logo.svg
WMO: 72537
Airport type Public
Owner Wayne County, Michigan
Operator Wayne County Airport Authority
Serves Detroit, Michigan
Location Romulus, Michigan
Hub for
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL 645 ft / 197 m
Coordinates 42°12′45″N 083°21′12″W / 42.21250°N 83.35333°W / 42.21250; -83.35333Coordinates: 42°12′45″N 083°21′12″W / 42.21250°N 83.35333°W / 42.21250; -83.35333
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
DTW is located in Michigan
Location within Michigan
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4R/22L 12,003 3,659 Concrete
4L/22R 10,000 3,048 Concrete
3R/21L 10,001 3,048 Concrete
3L/21R 8,501 2,591 Asphalt/Concrete
9L/27R 8,708 2,654 Asphalt/Concrete
9R/27L 8,500 2,591 Concrete
Statistics (2011 and 2012)
Total passengers (2014) 32,513,555
International passengers (2012) 2,811,209
Aircraft operations (2011) 443,028

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (IATA: DTWICAO: KDTW), usually called Detroit Metro Airport, Metro Airport locally, or simply DTW, is a major international airport in the United States covering 7,072-acre (11.050 sq mi; 2,862 ha)[2] in Romulus, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It is Michigan's busiest airport, and one of the largest air transportation hubs in the country.

The airport serves as Delta Air Lines' second-busiest hub. Delta, along with SkyTeam partner Air France, and codeshare partner Virgin Atlantic (beginning June 1, 2015), occupy the McNamara Terminal, which contains both domestic and international gates and serves as the airline's primary gateway to Asia for the Eastern United States and its third-busiest gateway to Europe. The airport is a major gateway for tourism in metropolitan Detroit and is one of SkyTeam's major Midwestern hubs.[3] It is also a focus city for Spirit Airlines,[4] which was founded in Metro Detroit and once operated its largest base at the airport. Operated by the Wayne County Airport Authority, the airport is one of the nation's most-recently expanded and modernized airports, with six major runways, two terminals, 145 in-service gates,[5] and an on-site Westin Hotel and conference center. McNamara Terminal's Concourse A is the world's second-longest airport terminal building at 1 mi (1.6 km).[6] It is just surpassed by the 1.06 mi (1.71 km) long Kansai International Airport Terminal 1 near Osaka, Japan, which opened in 2008 with a total length of 1.7 miles (2.7 km), is actually three separate structures linked together by underground connectors). Detroit Metropolitan Airport has maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing aircraft as large as the Boeing 747.[7] The airport is 7 miles (11 km) from Willow Run Airport (YIP).

In 2012, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was the 16th-busiest airport in the United States and the 44th-busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic. In terms of aircraft operations (takeoffs and landings), it remains one of the ten busiest airfields in North America.[5] Metro Airport also serves the Toledo, Ohio, area, approximately 47 miles (76 km) south of the airport, and the city of Windsor, Ontario and Southwestern Ontario in nearby Canada.[8] The airport serves over 160 destinations[5] and was named the best large U.S. airport in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power & Associates in 2010.[9]


Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)

Wayne County began to plan an airport in the western townships of the county as early as 1927. The following year the county board of supervisors issued a $2 million bond to fund the purchase of one square mile of land at the corner of Middlebelt and Wick roads, the northeastern boundary of today's airport. Construction was completed in 1929, and the first landing was on February 22, 1930; Wayne County Airport was formally dedicated on September 4, 1930.[10] That year Thompson Aeronautical Corporation, a forerunner of American Airlines, inaugurated service from the airport. From 1931 until 1945, the airport housed Michigan Air National Guard operations gained by the United States Army Air Forces. It was also named Romulus Field during the war. The original runway (14/32) was later decommissioned, but parts of it remain as Taxiways M-4 and P-4, crossing from southeast of Runway 3R/21L through Runway 9L/27R and ending northwest of Runway 3L/21R.

Between 1947 and 1950, county officials expanded the small airport to become Detroit's primary airport. The airport was renamed Detroit-Wayne Major Airport in 1947, and over the next three years expanded in size threefold as three more runways were built. In 1949, runways 3L/21R and 9L/27R were built, and in 1950, runway 4R/22L was added. During this time, most commercial traffic shifted from the cramped Detroit City Airport (now Coleman Young International Airport) northeast of downtown Detroit to the larger Willow Run Airport over 20 mi (32 km) west of the city, and 10 mi (16 km) west of Wayne County Airport.

Pan-Am (1954), and BOAC (1956), were the first passenger airlines at Detroit-Wayne Major. In the April 1957 Official Airline Guide, they were the only passenger airlines: three Pan Am DC-7Cs per week FRA-LHR-SNN-DTW-ORD and back, and one BOAC DC-7C per week LHR-PIK-YUL-DTW-ORD and back (skipping YUL on the return flight).

Aerial photographs of DTW from 1949 and 1956 show the airport's expansion.[11] American Airlines shifted to Detroit-Wayne in October 1958, followed by Northwest, Allegheny and Delta in the next few months. In 1958, the Civil Aviation Administration — now the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — announced the inclusion of Detroit-Wayne in the first group of American airports to receive new long-range radar equipment, enabling the airport to become the first inland airport in the United States certified for jet airliners. Also in 1958, the L.C. Smith (South) Terminal was completed and the airport was given its present name.[12]

The remaining passenger airlines at Willow Run moved to Metro Airport in 1966, and the North Terminal (later renamed the Davey Terminal) opened that year. Growing international traffic necessitated a third terminal, the Michael Berry International Terminal, that opened in 1974. The last of its original three parallel runways (3R/21L) was completed in 1976. A new parallel cross winds runway (9R/27L) opened in 1993.

Republic Airlines began hub operations in 1984, and its merger with Northwest Airlines in 1986 expanded the hub. Transpacific operations began in 1987 with nonstop flights to Tokyo. The last of Metro's six runways (4L/22R) was completed in December 2001 in preparation for the opening of the mile-long, 122-gate, $1.2 billion McNamara Terminal in the airport midfield in 2002.[12] The airport remained a hub airport for Northwest Airlines until it merged with Delta Air Lines.[13]

The present Runway 3L/21R has had four identifiers. When opened in 1949, it was Runway 3/21. With the opening of the new west side Runway 3L/21R in 1950, the original 3/21 became 3R/21L. With the opening of the new east side Runway 3R/21L in 1976, it became 3C/21C. With the opening of Runway 4L/22R in December 2001 and the consequent splitting of the field into two sectors (3/21 on the east and 4/22 on the west), Runway 3C/21C became Runway 3L/21R.

In 2009, Detroit Metro Airport launched its first social media efforts with participation in Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube networks.

In April 2011, Lufthansa launched a unique curbside check-in and baggage check service for premium customers departing from DTW's North Terminal to Frankfurt and beyond. In doing so, Lufthansa became the only airline allowing international customers departing from DTW to check their bags and receive a boarding pass directly at the curb, while DTW becomes Lufthansa's first North American gateway to feature this service.[14]

Planned development[edit]

The Airport Authority's long-term plans include an airport rail system, a new runway, and terminal expansions. The FAA projects that air traffic will grow 67% at Detroit Metro over the next 20 years, which would equate to 60 million passengers. The rail system would connect the existing McNamara Terminal and the new North Terminal together via tram with an anticipated consolidated rental car facility and a planned regional rail system. Also, the airport is considering to extend Concourses B and C in the McNamara Terminal. To pay for these projects, the Airport Authority has asked Congress to raise the current $4.50 passenger facility fee to $7.00. Former hub carrier Northwest Airlines had opposed the utilization of the passenger facility fee to fund the airport rail system.[15]

The Wayne County Airport Authority's latest FAA Master Plan includes a number of proposed future developments to be considered at such time as demand warrants and funding is available. A significant element of this plan is a proposed new fifth parallel runway.[16] This addition would add to the airport's four existing parallel runways and its two crosswind runways in order to alleviate future congestion.[17]


Edward H. McNamara Terminal[edit]

DTW Airport layout showing the Edward H. McNamara Terminal
Detroit's colorful Light Tunnel, with displays choreographed to music, connects Concourse A with Concourse B and C
A Delta 757-300 taxiing at DTW.
Air France parking at the McNamara Terminal.
A Delta A330 departing to Amsterdam.

The McNamara Terminal, also once known as the Northwest WorldGateway, opened February 25, 2002. Designed by SmithGroup and built by Hunt Construction Group, it replaced the aged Davey Terminal, Northwest Airlines principal hub until its replacement. During development, the terminal was known as the Midfield Terminal.[12] The terminal is used exclusively by Delta (which merged with Northwest), Virgin Atlantic (beginning June 1, 2015), and SkyTeam partner Air France and has three concourses, A, B, and C, which house 121 gates with shopping and dining in the center of A concourse (known as the Central Link), as well as throughout the concourses. In addition to moving walkways spaced along the length of each concourse, concourse A has a people mover, the ExpressTram, that transports passengers between ends of the 1 mi (1.6 km) Concourse A in just over three minutes. Trams arrive almost simultaneously at the Terminal Station at the midpoint of the concourse and depart in opposite directions to the North Station and the South Station, then return.[18] The McNamara Terminal opened a new baggage sorting facility in October 2008, which has improved the screening of baggage through 14 new explosive detection system devices along a fully automated conveyor system. Northwest Airlines said that it reduced the amount of lost baggage, and it improved the timeliness of bags getting to their correct flight.[19][20]

A AAA Four Star Westin hotel is connected to the terminal. Additionally, overnight guests at the hotel who are not flying can obtain a pass to enter the concourses to visit shops and restaurants. Called the Airport Access Authorization to Commercial Establishments Beyond the Screen Checkpoint (AAACE), registered guests must be cleared through the same security background check (Secure Flight) and TSA screening process as travelers to access the terminal area. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is the only other airport participating in this program.[21]

The A concourse houses 64 gates with 12 gates used for international departures and arrivals processing.[18] The A concourse is intended for all but the smaller regional aircraft. At the midpoint of the concourse is a large, black granite water feature designed by WET. The concourse contains over 1.5 mi (2.4 km) of moving walkways. Signage through the terminal is in English and Japanese due to the large number of regular flights between Detroit and points in Japan (however, the ExpressTram does not have Japanese-language announcements), and signage in other languages is located inside international arrivals areas.

The twelve international gates are capable of dual jet bridge loading and unloading. They also contain two exit configurations depending on the arriving flight. Domestic arrivals follow the upper path directly into the terminal while international arrivals proceed downstairs to customs and immigration screening. The Customs and Border Protection processing center located in the terminal's lower level is designed to accommodate as many as 3,200 passengers per hour. International arriving passengers connecting to another flight are screened by TSA at a dedicated screening checkpoint within the international arrivals facility. Those passengers then exit directly back into the center of the A concourse.[22] Passengers arriving from international destinations who end their trip in Detroit (or connecting to a flight via North Terminal) exit directly into a dedicated International Arrivals Hall on the lower level of the terminal.

The B and C concourses currently have fifty-eight gates that are used for Delta's regional flights that employ smaller aircraft. Nearly all regional flights have jet bridges, eliminating the need for outdoor boarding.

The B and C concourses are connected to the main terminal building and the A Concourse by a pedestrian walkway under the Airport ramp. This walkway, known as the Light Tunnel, features an elaborate multi-colored light show behind sculpted glass panels extending the entire length of the walkway, as well several moving walkways. The light patterns are synchronized with an original musical score composed by Victor Alexeeff,[23] which runs for nearly 30-minutes before repeating. This installation, one of the first large-scale uses of color changing LED lighting in the United States, was produced by Mills James Productions with glasswork by Foxfire Glass Works of Pontiac, Michigan. The display won multiple lighting design awards including the prestigious Guth Award of Merit. For passengers who are prone to medical conditions such as seizures, there are buttons at each end of the tunnel that will suspend the light show for five minutes so they can pass through with no adverse effects.

North Terminal[edit]

The North Terminal, designed by Gensler and built by Walbridge/Barton Malow Joint Venture,[24] opened September 17, 2008 as the replacement for the aged Berry and Smith Terminals, which housed all non-SkyTeam airlines. Initially, Wayne County Airport Authority sought bids for the naming rights of the North Terminal, however, after two years with no successful offers, the effort ceased and the North Terminal name remained.[25]

The terminal houses all non-SkyTeam airlines serving the airport, and is considered the "D" Concourse of the airport; the McNamara Terminal has Concourses A, B, and C. The concourse has 26 gates, two of which opened in the summer of 2009 to accommodate international widebody aircraft. The two gates could not be used at the time of the building's opening because they were extremely close to Smith Terminal's C Concourse. (That concourse was demolished after flights moved to the new terminal, which enabled the final two gates at the new terminal to be completed.) The terminal features four long segments of moving walkways on the departures level, and another moving walkway on the lower level; that is for international arriving passengers to access the Federal Inspection Services area.

The North Terminal houses two six-lane security checkpoints. The terminal also has U.S. Customs & Border Protection inspection facilities located on the lower level for arriving international flights.[26]

The North Terminal has five common-use domestic baggage carousels on the lower level. Two additional carousels are located inside the Federal Inspection Services area for international flights, and a central Oversize Baggage Claim is adjacent to both the international and domestic carousel areas.

January 29, 2010, the North Terminal was named winner of the "Build Michigan" award project.[27]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Countries served by flights from Detroit including seasonal destinations.

Scheduled passenger[edit]

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson North
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle McNamara
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma North
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Phoenix
Seasonal: Chicago-O'Hare
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, New York–LaGuardia North
Delta Air Lines Amsterdam, Atlanta, Baltimore, Beijing–Capital, Boston, Buffalo, Cancún, Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati (begins April 26, 2015), Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madison, Mexico City, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nagoya–Centrair, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Norfolk, Omaha, Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY), Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, St. Louis, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Washington–National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Akron/Canton, Albany, Appleton, Austin, Bangor (begins June 4, 2015), Birmingham (AL), Chicago–Midway, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Cozumel, Dayton, Evansville, Grand Cayman, Green Bay, Greensboro, Harrisburg, Huntsville, Jacksonville (FL), Lexington, Louisville, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Montego Bay, Monterrey, Montréal–Trudeau, Nassau, Oklahoma City, Portland (ME), Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Rome–Fiumicino, Sacramento, San Antonio, San José del Cabo, San Juan, Sarasota, Syracuse, Traverse City, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles
Delta Connection Akron/Canton, Albany, Allentown/Bethlehem, Alpena, Appleton, Austin, Bangor, Binghamton, Birmingham (AL), Bloomington/Normal, Boston, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Chicago–Midway, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Elmira/Corning, Erie, Escanaba (MI), Evansville, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Ithaca, Jacksonville (FL), Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lansing, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Manchester (NH), Marquette, Memphis, Milwaukee, Moline/Quad Cities, Monterrey, Montréal–Trudeau, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Newburgh, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Pellston, Peoria, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Rochester (MN) (ends April 9, 2015), Saginaw, Savannah, St. Louis, San Antonio, Sault Ste. Marie (MI), South Bend, State College, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Tulsa, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, Wausau, White Plains, Wilkes Barre/Scranton
Seasonal: Myrtle Beach
Frontier Airlines Denver
Seasonal: Trenton, Washington-Dulles
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale (begins April 30, 2015) North
Lufthansa Frankfurt North
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia North
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas-Love (begins August 9, 2015), Denver, Las Vegas, Nashville, Phoenix, St. Louis North
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Atlantic City, Boston (begins April 16, 2015),[28] Cancun, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Myrtle Beach
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Newark
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles North
US Airways Charlotte, Miami, Phoenix
Seasonal: Philadelphia
US Airways Express Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington–National North
Virgin Atlantic London-Heathrow (begins June 1, 2015)[29] McNamara

As of 2010 most passengers traveling from Beirut, Lebanon to Detroit use the Royal Jordanian flight originating in Amman, Jordan. As of that year the airport gets 40 to 50 daily arriving passengers originating from Beirut. Metro Detroit has a large Lebanese American population.[30]


Airlines Destinations Concourse
Apple Vacations operated by Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Cancun, Punta Cana[31] North
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Gulfport, Minneapolis/St Paul North


Airlines Destinations
DHL Aviation operated by Atlas Air Minneapolis/Saint Paul, New York-JFK, Toledo
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark
FedEx Feeder operated by CSA Air Findlay
Lufthansa Cargo Boston,[32] Frankfurt, New York-JFK
UPS Airlines Chicago/Rockford, Louisville, Philadelphia


Top destinations[edit]

Concourse C
The ExpressTram transports passengers among three stations in the McNamara Terminal
North Terminal
North Terminal Check-in
Busiest domestic routes from DTW (Jan 2014 - Dec 2014)[33]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA 646,000 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
2 Orlando, FL 500,000 Delta, Spirit
3 Chicago, IL (ORD) 484,000 American, Delta, United
4 Las Vegas, NV 476,000 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
5 New York, NY (LGA) 465,000 American, Delta, Spirit
6 Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX 430,000 American, Delta, Spirit
7 Phoenix, AZ 398,000 American, Delta, Southwest, US Airways
8 Charlotte, NC 392,000 Delta, US Airways
9 Denver, CO 383,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
10 Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 381,000 Delta, Spirit
Busiest international routes from DTW (2012)[34]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Amsterdam, Netherlands 627,344 Delta
2 Tokyo (Narita), Japan 253,786 Delta
3 Frankfurt, Germany 234,274 Delta, Lufthansa
4 Nagoya, Japan 172,061 Delta
5 Toronto (Pearson), Canada 155,432 Air Canada, Delta
6 Shanghai, China 152,582 Delta
7 Paris (Charles de Gaulle), France 142,726 Air France, Delta
8 London (Heathrow), United Kingdom 134,941 Delta
9 Montreal, Canada 101,071 Delta
10 Cancún, Mexico 100,005 Delta, Spirit

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at Detroit Wayne County Airport, 1995 thru 2014[35]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 32,377,064 2000 35,535,080
2009 31,357,388 1999 33,967,819
2008 35,135,828 1998 30,803,158
2007 36,013,478 1997 30,732,871
2006 35,972,673 1996 27,408,666
2005 36,383,514 1995 28,298,215
2014 32,513,555 2004 35,229,705
2013 32,389,544 2003 32,738,900
2012 32,242,473 2002 32,477,694
2011 32,406,159 2001 32,631,463

Historical terminals[edit]

Michael Berry Terminal[edit]

Michael Berry Terminal the year it closed in 2008

The Berry Terminal, named for a former airport commissioner, was designed by Detroit architect Louis G. Redstone, and opened in 1974 as the international terminal at DTW. It was decommissioned on September 17, 2008, and replaced by the North Terminal; however, the airport authority voted May 20, 2009, to renovate the terminal to house its offices.[36] All international passengers would arrive at this terminal, pass through customs and immigration inspection, and continue on to their connecting flights by bus to adjacent terminals.

Originally containing six gates (two of which were removed in 2003 to allow for construction of an adjacent Northwest Airlines maintenance hangar), the terminal was later used for scheduled and charter flights. There were still several international scheduled flights on low cost carriers to destinations in the Caribbean and other warm-weathered places in the early 2000s (decade), including flights from Champion Air, Ryan International Airlines and USA3000 Airlines. Four charter airlines also used this terminal.

Since its closure in 2008, the Berry Terminal has become a popular space for commercial film and television production. Films such as Up in the Air (2009), Machine Gun Preacher (2011) and This Must Be the Place have used the now-vacant terminal as a set (in addition to shooting in and around the airport's active terminals).

L. C. Smith Terminal[edit]

Smith Terminal in 1962
The former Executive Terminal, 2014

The Smith Terminal, named for Detroit-Wayne Major airport visionary Leroy C. Smith, was built in 1958 (also known as the old version of The North Terminal). Though cited as the oldest of Metro Airport's terminals, that designation belongs to the Executive Terminal building located near Middlebelt Road and Lucas Drive, one-quarter-mile east. The Executive Terminal was built in the late 1920s and is still in operation today as home to ASIG, a flight support company.

The Smith Terminal's thirty-two gates originally housed Northwest Orient Airlines, Allegheny Airlines (forerunner to US Airways), Eastern Airlines, and Pan-Am, among others. A control tower was included in the construction, and served its purpose until the late 1980s, when a new control tower was built near the site of the new McNamara Terminal.

In later years, Smith Terminal hosted North American airlines other than Northwest, Continental, and later Delta, which relocated to the McNamara Terminal in 2002 before its merger with Northwest.

State of the art for its time, the Smith Terminal eventually became victim to airline expansion. The design of the building did not allow for physical expansion of the ticketing area. To accommodate additional airlines, ticketing counters were constructed on the sides of the lobby in areas that previously held lounges and retail.[37] In contrast, the North Terminal was constructed with future expansion in mind.

Spirit Airlines, which operated out of many of the gates once used by Northwest, made few upgrades to the gate areas in those parts of the terminal. The Northwest Airlines display boards near check-in counters at each gate remained in place, with the Northwest logos removed, and a Spirit information board simply affixed over the old signage.

On September 10, 2008, The Detroit News reported that Smith Terminal itself will not be demolished due to the airport authority offices remaining on the upper floors. However, the Detroit Free Press of October 9, 2008, stated that maintaining the terminal in its present condition would cost upwards of $4 million annually in utilities, a sore spot for airlines at DTW who foot the bill, in part, through airport landing fees; the airlines were hoping for a greater cost savings once the Smith and Berry Terminals were decommissioned.[38] On May 20, 2009, the airport authority formally voted to totally vacate the Smith Terminal, while retaining and renovating the Berry Terminal for its offices.[36]

Discussions were also raised regarding proposed construction of a new structure to house the Airport Authority offices and Airport Police, with a preliminary price tag of $31.5 million.

James M. Davey Terminal[edit]

The Davey Terminal was built in 1966 and was first known as "Terminal 2" or the "North Terminal". Designed by the firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, it was said to be the largest post tensioned building in the world. Tapering cruciform columns around the perimeter and curved beams supported five large concrete roof panels. The lack of columns allowed maximum flexibility in the interior space. The spaces between the roof panels and exterior columns were filled with glass to allow abundant natural light into the building.[39] It was renamed the "J. M. Davey Terminal" in 1975 in honor of former airport manager James M. Davey. It originally contained three concourses labeled C to E, as well as a Host Hotel which later was rebranded Marriott.[12] In the early 1980s, a separate ticketing area was constructed to the north of the Davey Terminal, along with Concourses F and G to eventually accommodate Northwest Airlines' regional jet fleet.

Over time, the terminal and added concourse began showing its age due to its layout and poor maintenance, hastened further by increased aircraft traffic, which it was not designed to handle efficiently. Despite this, more gates were added to Concourse C in a short-term expansion project in the early 1990s, making it 26 gates in length. This concourse was considered the worst by most travelers due to its long distance from the center of the terminal, and for its length.

The Davey Terminal was originally the principal base of operations for Republic Airlines, which merged with Northwest Orient Airlines to become Northwest Airlines in 1986. Upon relocation of Northwest operations to the McNamara Terminal, the Davey Terminal was mothballed for three years before demolition of the ticketing area and Concourse G began October 17, 2005, to prepare for the North Terminal project. All concourses of the Davey Terminal and adjoining Marriott hotel, except gates 1 to 11 of Concourse C, were subsequently demolished in 2005–06 (the remaining gates were in use by Spirit Airlines until the new North Terminal opened on September 17, 2008).[12]

Parking and ground transportation[edit]

The McNamara Terminal Parking Structure is an 89 acres (36 ha) 10-level facility, which opened in February 2002. It is one of the largest parking structures in the world and includes a ground transportation center, pedestrian bridge, two luggage check-in locations, conveyors and bridges to transport luggage, six restrooms, three offices for parking officials, and two electrical substations. The structure can accommodate 11,489 cars in seven user groups. Parking for the North Terminal is offered in a garage known as the Big Blue Deck.[40] One additional surface lot, named the Green Lot serves as overflow parking. A second surface lot, the Yellow Lot closed April 5, 2012.[41] Four additional, privately owned parking lots are located outside airport grounds (Airlines Parking, Park 'N' Go, Qwik Park, U.S. Park). Motorcycle parking is free at the airport. Motorcycles can be parked in a separate covered area from cars at the McNamara Terminal Parking Structure.

The airport is accessible from Interstate 94 (I-94), which is the closest entrance to the North Terminal, and from I-275 via Eureka Road, which is closer to the McNamara Terminal. John D. Dingell Drive, named after long-time Congressman, is an expressway built in 1999 to access the McNamara Terminal and connects the I-94 and Eureka Road entrances of the airport. Many other local roads (including Goddard Road, Northline Road, Ecorse Road, Middlebelt Road, Merriman Road, and Wick Road) provide access to the airport and its surrounding property.[42]

Most major rental car companies serve the airport through shuttle busses to offsite locations. Taxis are provided under contract with MetroCab (approximate cost to downtown Detroit is $48), while limousine and luxury vehicle service is provided by MetroCars.[43]

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) operates bus routes 125 (Fort Street – Detroit) and 280 (Middlebelt Road), that stop at the airport hourly and connect with the rest of Metro Detroit.[44]

Terminal To Terminal shuttles provide free transport between the McNamara and North Terminals. Robert Q. Airbus also provides independent shuttle services to destinations in Southern Ontario, and most hotels located within the airport perimeter provide their own shuttle services as well.

The McNamara and North Terminals also have cell phone lots. The McNamara Terminal cell phone lot is located south of Eureka Road between I-275 and the airport entrance ramp. The North Terminal cell phone lot is located near I-94 at the Middlebelt Road exit and near the on-airport car rental facilities. Both cell phone lots are clearly marked and unattended vehicles are prohibited.[45]

Metro Airport has also introduced a new system called 1>2>3 PARK which enables travelers to pay by swiping their credit or debit card. This new system is simple because it does not need a parking stub to know the duration of the travelers' stay. As of now, the "Big Blue Deck", the surface parking lots, and the McNamara Terminal parking structure currently have and use this new system.[46]

The Ground Transportation Center is directly across from the North Terminal near the Big Blue Deck parking structure and has been expanded to include 800 additional parking spaces.

The Michigan Flyer provides bus service between the airport and Ann Arbor, Jackson, and East Lansing eight times daily.

Out-of-town shuttle service is available for passengers wishing to connect to flights at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

The planned SEMCOG Commuter Rail system, with terminals at Ann Arbor and Detroit, would stop at the airport and provide rail transportation to and from the city.[47] Because the line will use existing infrastructure, it will not directly serve the airport, but connect via shuttle. The planned airport station will be approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) north of the airport.


  • J.D. Power and Associates ranked Metro Airport No. 1 in overall customer satisfaction nationwide among large airports in 2009 and 2010, up from No. 2 in 2008.[9][48]
  • Airports Council International (ACI) ranked Metro Airport the No. 3 best airport in North America along with the Ottawa, Canada airport in 2006. ACI also named Metro Airport the No. 3 best airport with 25–40 million passengers in 2006.[49]
  • Airports Council International (ACI) ranked Metro Airport the No. 5 best airport in North America in 2007. ACI also named Metro Airport the No. 3 best airport with 25–40 million passengers in 2007.[50]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • June 12, 1972, after a stopover in Detroit American Airlines Flight 96 a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 with 56 passengers and 11 crew from Los Angeles International Airport en route to Buffalo, New York suffered a cargo door failure and explosive decompression shortly after departure form Detroit Metropolitan Airport while flying over Windsor, Ontario. It is thus sometimes referred to as the Windsor incident.[51] The aircraft sustained damage which left the pilots without full flight controls but the plane returned to Detroit for a successful emergency landing. There were no fatalities but several serious to minor injuries.
  • July 31, 1972, Delta Air Lines Flight 841; members of the Black Liberation Army took over the airplane in flight using weapons smuggled on board, including a Bible cut out to hold a handgun. The plane held 7 crew and 94 passengers, none of whom was killed during the hijacking. Five hijackers who had boarded with three children took over the plane. The plane flew to Miami where the passengers were exchanged for $1 million in ransom. The plane was then flown on to Boston where it refueled before flying to Algeria. Algeria seized the plane and ransom which they returned to the U.S. but the hijackers were released after a few days.
  • March 4, 1987, Northwest Airlink Flight 2268, operated by Fischer Brothers Aviation, a CASA 212 was on a scheduled flight from Mansfield to Detroit with an intermediate stop in Cleveland when it crashed while landing at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The plane yawed violently to the left about 70 feet (21 m) above the runway, skidded to the right, hit 3 ground support vehicles in front of Concourse F and caught fire. Of 19 occupants onboard (16 passengers and 3 crew), 9 were killed. The cause of the crash was determined to be pilot error.[52]
  • August 16, 1987, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 255,[53] bound for Phoenix, Arizona, crashed on take-off from Metro's 8,500-foot (2,600 m)-long Runway 3 Center (Now Runway 3L). All but one passenger on the aircraft were killed; the lone survivor was a young girl, Cecelia Cichan, who lost both of her parents and her brother. The NTSB determined that the accident resulted from flight crew's failure to deploy the aircraft's flaps prior to take-off, resulting in a lack of necessary lift. The aircraft slammed into an overpass bridge on I-94 just northeast of the departure end of the runway.[54]
  • December 3, 1990, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-14 operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 1482, bound for Pittsburgh, collided with a Boeing 727-200 Adv. operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 299, bound for Memphis, on runway 03C. Seven passengers and a flight attendant on flight 1482 were killed. The cause of the accident is listed as "pilot error."[55][56]
  • January 9, 1997, an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft operating as Comair Flight 3272 crashed nose down 18 miles (29 km) from the airport while on approach into Detroit. All 26 passengers and 3 crew members were killed. The cause is listed to be the "FAA's failure to establish adequate aircraft certification standards for flight in icing conditions, the FAA's failure to ensure that an FAA/CTA-approved procedure for the accident airplane's deice system operation was implemented by U.S.-based air carriers, and the FAA's failure to require the establishment of adequate minimum airspeeds for icing conditions."[57]
  • December 25, 2009, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus A330 from Amsterdam to Detroit as the plane was approaching Detroit. The device failed to go off correctly, and the suspect suffered burns to his lower body. Three other passengers had minor injuries. The White House said it considered the incident an attempted terrorist attack.[58]
  • August 3, 2012, two airplanes came too close to one another while attempting to land. A Delta Airlines flight from Phoenix, Arizona was approaching Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport on Friday night as a small regional jet was also trying to land, said Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. The two planes were separated by approximately two horizontal miles. "Standard separation distances three miles", Cory said, noting that an investigation is under way.[59]
  • September 22, 2014, Delta Airlines flight 4103 was evacuated on the taxiway after a fire was reported on board a CRJ-200 bound for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Officials say there was no actual fire on board, but had a very strong odor of smoke. Firefighters did not see a fire but also reported the smell of smoke.[60]
  • October 27, 2014, US Airways flight 2088 was landing around 8:45PM EDT when the Airbus A320 blew two tires. Flight 2088 originated in Atlanta, then stopped in Charlotte, before landing in Detroit. The plane had 150 people on board. No one on board the aircraft was injured and the passengers and crew were taken to the terminal by shuttle buses. At least two Delta flights were diverted to Cleveland when the incident occurred. Delta shuttle buses transported the passengers to gate D17 at the north terminal. This incident occurred on runway 21R. On September 21, 2014 a similar issue happened with a Delta 747.[61]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

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External links[edit]