Detroit Metropolitan Airport

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Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Logo.svg
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport DTW.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerWayne County, Michigan
OperatorWayne County Airport Authority
ServesDetroit, Michigan, United States, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States and Windsor, Ontario, Canada
LocationRomulus, Michigan
Hub forDelta Air Lines[1]
Focus city forSpirit Airlines
Elevation AMSL645 ft / 197 m
Coordinates42°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 diagram
FAA diagram
DTW is located in Michigan
Location in Michigan
DTW is located in the US
DTW (the US)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4R/22L 12,003 3,659 Concrete
4L/22R 10,000 3,048 Asphalt/Concrete
3R/21L 10,000 3,048 Concrete
3L/21R 8,500 2,591 Asphalt/Concrete
9L/27R 8,708 2,654 Asphalt/Concrete
9R/27L 8,500 2,591 Concrete
Statistics (2017)
Total passengers34,701,497
Cargo volume216,220 tonnes
Aircraft operations395,357

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (IATA: DTW, ICAO: KDTW, FAA LID: DTW), usually called Detroit Metro Airport, Metro Airport, or just DTW, is a major international airport in the United States covering 4,850 acres (1,960 ha)[3][4] in Romulus, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It is Michigan's busiest airport, and one of the largest airline hubs in the country. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021 categorized it as a large hub primary commercial service facility.[5]

The airport is Delta Air Lines' second-largest hub in terms of total operations.[6][7] Detroit serves as the primary gateway to Asia for the Eastern United States for Delta and is also the third-busiest gateway to Europe for the airline. The airport is a major gateway for tourism in metropolitan Detroit and is one of SkyTeam's major Midwestern hubs.[8] It is also the fourth-largest base for Spirit Airlines and is a major connecting point between the Eastern and the Western United States.[9] The airport has service to 30 international destinations and service to 39 states across the United States. Operated by the Wayne County Airport Authority, the airport has four main runways, two crosswind runways, two terminals (McNamara Terminal and North Terminal), and 129 in-service gates.[10] McNamara Terminal has three concourses (A, B, and C), while North Terminal has one (D). Concourse A in McNamara Terminal, at nearly 1 mi (1.6 km) in length, is the second-longest airport concourse in the world (the longest is in Terminal 1 of Japan's Kansai International Airport). An on-site Westin Hotel and conference center is connected to Concourse A. Detroit Metropolitan Airport has maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing aircraft as large as the Boeing 747-400.[11]

In 2016, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was the 18th-busiest airport in the United States. In terms of aircraft operations (takeoffs and landings), the airport was 18th-busiest in 2013.[12] Metro Airport primarily serves the Metropolitan Detroit area, Toledo, Ohio, area, approximately 40 miles (64 km) south of the airport, the Greater Ann Arbor, Michigan area which is west of the airport, and the city of Windsor, Ontario and Southwestern Ontario in nearby Canada.[13] The airport serves over 140 destinations[10] and was named the best large U.S. airport in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power & Associates in 2010.[14]


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 commissioners issued a $2 million bond to fund the purchase of one square mile (2.6 km2) 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 dedicated on September 4, 1930.[15] That year Thompson Aeronautical Corporation, a forerunner of American Airlines, began service from the airport. From 1931 until 1945 the airport hosted Michigan Air National Guard operations gained by the United States Army Air Forces. It was named Romulus Field during the war; it was then all east of Merriman Road and north of Goddard Road.

Between 1947 and 1950 the county expanded the airport to become Detroit's primary airport. It renamed the facility Detroit-Wayne Major Airport in 1947, and in the next three years expanded threefold as three more runways were built. In 1949, the airport added runways 3L/21R and 9L/27R, followed by runway 4R/22L in 1950. In 1946–47, most airline traffic moved from the cramped Detroit City Airport (now Coleman Young International Airport) northeast of downtown Detroit to the larger Willow Run Airport over 20 miles (32 km) west of the city, and 10 miles (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 FRALHRSNN–DTW–ORD and back, and one BOAC DC-7C per week LHR–PIKYUL–DTW–ORD and back (skipping YUL on the return flight).

Aerial photographs of DTW from 1949 and 1956 show the airport's expansion.[16] 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, airport management completed the L.C. Smith (South) Terminal and gave the airport its present name.[17]

Jet flights (Pan Am and American 707s) began in 1960. Northwest's flights to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport [MSP] were DTW's only nonstops west beyond Chicago and Milwaukee until 1966, when the remaining passenger airlines at Willow Run moved to Metro Airport. The North Terminal (later renamed the Davey Terminal) opened in 1966 and a third terminal, the Michael Berry International Terminal, opened in 1974. The last of its original three parallel runways (3R/21L) was completed in 1976. A new parallel crosswind runway (9R/27L) opened in 1993.

Republic Airlines began hub operations in 1984,[18] and its merger with Northwest Airlines in 1986 expanded the hub. Transpacific flights began in 1987, with Northwest providing nonstop service to Tokyo.[19] 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.[17] The airport remained a hub for Northwest Airlines until it merged with Delta Air Lines.[20]

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 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.

Detroit was a major hub for Northwest Airlines from 1986 to 2010. Northwest Airlines later merged with Delta Airlines, and Detroit became Delta's second largest hub.

In April 2011, Lufthansa launched a unique curbside check-in and baggage check service for premium customers from DTW's North Terminal to Frankfurt and beyond. Lufthansa became the only airline allowing international customers departing from DTW to check their bags and receive a boarding pass at the curb, while DTW becomes Lufthansa's first North American gateway with this service.[21]

Detroit's economy fell greatly to the Great Recession, causing airlines such as British Airways to drop flights to London–Heathrow and other airlines such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic to utilize codeshare flights through Delta Air Lines. While the city has lost population, Detroit Airport has since re-grown, and airlines are looking to expand or begin service once again. JetBlue Airways began flights to Boston, which have been so successful that the airline began a Fort Lauderdale service on April 30, 2015, and has been looking to expand service to Orlando, and New York–JFK. United Airlines has announced the return of nonstop flights to San Francisco in June 2017 in efforts to boost competition in Detroit. Spirit Airlines has also grown in the Detroit market, adding service to more East and West Coast cities.

Royal Jordanian was the first airline to schedule the Boeing 787 Dreamliner into Detroit, on December 1, 2014.[22]

One of Delta Connection carriers, Compass Airlines chose to close its operating base in Detroit to move operations to the new Seattle hub in early 2015. Delta has replaced many of the existing Compass flights with mainline Delta flights to allow SkyWest Airlines and GoJet to open Detroit bases.[23]

Beginning in January 2018, Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART Bus, began providing a direct connection from the airport to the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit via route 261, also known as the Michigan Ave FAST bus, with stations at both the McNamara and North terminals.[24]

On June 26, 2015, Spirit Airlines announced the construction of a new maintenance facility on the airport. The airline stated this facility would bring $31.5 million and 82 jobs to the Metro Detroit area. Spirit Airlines had a hangar that closed, forcing the airline to do maintenance at the gate with contract workers. With the new facility, which opened in May 2017, Spirit will retain its hub at Metro Airport, and bring additional air service.[25] Spirit was also the first airline to regularly fly the A320neo in the US, the first route was Detroit to Los Angeles.

August 28, 2018 marks the day that Delta announced returning flights to Worcester, Massachusetts from Detroit. There is currently no start date or indication that this flight will be mainline or regional, however the flights are scheduled to begin in August 2019.[26]

Planned development[edit]

The Airport Authority's long-term plans include a bus transportation system to a light rail station north of the airport proposed by the RTA, expansions and re-surfacing of runways to accommodate the Airbus A380, as well as vendor, security checkpoint and terminal expansions. The bus route would connect the existing terminals to a light rail station north of the airport via bus with an anticipated consolidated rental car facility and a planned regional rail system.

The FAA projects that air traffic will grow 67% at Detroit Metro over the next 20 years, which would equate to 60 million passengers. Runway 3L/21R will be expanded in length to accommodate future traffic needs, the other four runways have already been expanded.

Also, the airport is considering the expansion of Concourse C and both ends of Concourse D as well as expand or relocate security checkpoints to meet tomorrow's travel needs. There are several options for the expansion of the North Terminal to meet the demands of airlines which includes expanded ticket counter space, expanded or centralized security, and the option of expanding the north or south ends of the terminals to add an additional 5 gates. The McNamara terminal includes expanded ticket counter space, centralized security and POD upgrades or expansions in Concourse C.[27]

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 growing air service nearly 60 percent until 2030. The goals are to include better connectivity to the Middle-East, India, and nonstop flights to several key destinations in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.[28] This addition would add to the airport's four existing parallel runways and its two crosswind runways in order to alleviate future congestion.[29]

The Regional Transit Authority is planning mass transit from Detroit to a rail connection point just north of the airport, in an effort to make transportation quicker and easier.[30] 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.[31] 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. Whether the RTA or SEMCOG plan ends up being adopted is still unclear.


Edward H. McNamara Terminal[edit]

Exterior of terminal as seen from a taxiing aircraft.
Detroit's colorful Light Tunnel, with displays choreographed to music, connects Concourse A with Concourse B and C
Aeromexico, Air France, and Delta occupy the McNamara Terminal.

DTW has 4 concourses with a total of 129 gates. 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. During development, the terminal was known as the Midfield Terminal.[17] The terminal is used exclusively by Delta (which merged with Northwest), and Delta partners Aeromexico and Air France. This terminal has three concourses, A, B, and C, which house 103 gates with shopping and dining in the center of A concourse (known as the Central Link), as well as throughout the concourses. It houses three Delta Skyclubs located throughout Concourse A, and 1 located in Concourses B and C. At nearly 1 mi (1.6 km) in length, Concourse A in McNamara Terminal is the second-longest airport concourse in the world (the longest is in Terminal 1 of Kansai International Airport in Japan).[32][33] In addition to moving walkways spaced along the length of each concourse, Concourse A has a people mover, the ExpressTram. It transports passengers between each end of Concourse A in just over three minutes. Trams arrive almost simultaneously at the Terminal Station, in the midpoint of the concourse and depart in opposite directions to the North Station and the South Station, then return.[34] 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.[35][36]

An AAA Four Star Westin hotel is connected to the A concourse. 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.[37]

The A concourse houses 62 gates with 12 gates used for international departures and arrivals processing.[34] The A concourse is intended for all aircraft. At the midpoint of the concourse is a large, laminar flow water feature designed by WET.[38] The concourse contains over 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of moving walkways. The A concourse also includes a pet relief area for passengers traveling with pets and service animals.[citation needed] Signage through the terminal is in English, along with Japanese due to the large number of business travelers from Japan. Izumi Suzuki, a Sheraton employee, and several colleagues provided the Japanese translations used by the airport. In previous eras many Japanese travelers going through Detroit missed connections due to a lack of English comprehension.[39]

The terminal houses ten international gates that are capable of dual jet bridge loading and unloading. The gates contain two exit configurations depending on the arriving flight. Domestic arrivals follow an 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.[40] 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 41 gates that are used for Delta's regional flights that employ smaller aircraft. 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,[41] 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.

The terminal has undergone updates that include new electronic terminal directories to better assist passengers. A unique feature of this is that passengers can scan their boarding passes, and the screen will direct them to the gate from which their plane departs. The passenger can also choose to view the information in other languages. Passengers may select a restaurant on the touch screen and a menu will show what items the restaurant serves. Mini tablet devices and phone/tablet apps have been installed in food court areas, where travelers may order food and have it delivered to their table.[42]

North Terminal[edit]

The North Terminal, designed by Gensler and built by Walbridge/Barton Malow Joint Venture,[43] 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.[44]

The terminal currently houses all non-SkyTeam airlines serving the airport, and is considered D Concourse. (Concourses A, B, and C are housed in the McNamara Terminal) The concourse has 26 gates, two of which opened in the middle of 2009 to accommodate international wide-body aircraft. The two gates were unusable at the building's opening because they were extremely close to Smith Terminal's C concourse, which was demolished after operations moved to the new facility. 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.

Airlines that utilize the North Terminal include; Air Canada, Alaska, American, American Eagle, Frontier, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, Southwest, Spirit, United and United Express, and all non-SkyTeam and Delta partner charters.

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.[45]

The North Terminal includes a Lufthansa club, located at the south end of the D Concourse near gate D4. Also, this terminal includes a brand new service pet relief area to accommodate passengers traveling with pets.

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.[46]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Aeroméxico Mexico City [47]
Aeroméxico Connect Guadalajara (begins May 1, 2019),[48] León/Del Bajío, Monterrey, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí (begins May 1, 2019)[49] [47]
Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson [50]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle [51]
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma [52]
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National [53]
Apple Vacations Seasonal Charter: Cancún [54]
Delta Air Lines Amsterdam, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Beijing–Capital, Boston, Buffalo, Cancún, Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Greenville/Spartanburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Mexico City, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montego Bay, Monterrey, Nagoya–Centrair, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento (begins June 17, 2019)[55], St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose (CA), San Francisco, São Paulo–Guarulhos (ends March 29, 2019)[56], Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Washington–National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Albany, Cincinnati, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Green Bay, Honolulu (resumes June 29, 2019),[57] Munich, Myrtle Beach, Nassau, Omaha, Portland (ME), Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Rochester (NY), Rome–Fiumicino, San José del Cabo, Sarasota, South Bend, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Vancouver
Delta Connection Albany, Allentown, Alpena, Appleton, Binghamton, Birmingham (AL), Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Chattanooga, Chicago–Midway, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus–Glenn, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Elmira/Corning, Erie, Escanaba (MI), Evansville, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Iron Mountain, Ithaca, Jacksonville (FL), Kalamazoo, Knoxville, La Crosse (begins March 2, 2019),[59] Lansing, Lexington, Louisville, Madison, Manchester (NH), Marquette, Memphis, Milwaukee, Moline/Quad Cities, Montréal–Trudeau, Mosinee, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Newburgh, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Pellston, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Richmond, Rochester (NY), Saginaw, St. Louis, San Antonio, Sault Ste. Marie (MI), South Bend, State College, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Washington–Dulles, White Plains, Wilkes Barre/Scranton
Seasonal: Bozeman (begins March 2, 2019), Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Little Rock, Myrtle Beach, Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Savannah
Frontier Airlines Orlando
Seasonal: Austin, Denver, Fort Myers, Raleigh/Durham, Trenton
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale (ends January 8, 2019)[61] [62]
Lufthansa Frankfurt [63]
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia1 [64]
Southwest Airlines Atlanta (ends June 7, 2019), Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Las Vegas, Nashville, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, St. Louis
Seasonal: Orlando, Tampa
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Austin (begins February 14, 2019),[66] Baltimore, Cancún, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Jacksonville (FL) (begins December 20, 2018),[67] Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Boston, Montego Bay (begins December 20, 2018),[68] Myrtle Beach, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, West Palm Beach (begins December 21, 2018)[69]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, San Francisco
Seasonal: Houston–Intercontinental, Newark
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles [71]
Vacation Express Seasonal Charter: Cozumel, Freeport, Montego Bay (begins January 21, 2019), Punta Cana [72]
WOW air Reykjavík–Keflavík [73]

^1 Royal Jordanian operates flights to and from Detroit year round. The airline operates nonstop service to Amman in the summer months. In the fall, winter, and spring months, however, the flight makes a stop in Montréal–Trudeau. Royal Jordanian does not have fifth freedom rights to transport passengers solely from Detroit to Montreal.


DHL AviationCincinnati, Minneapolis/St. Paul
FedEx ExpressColumbus–Rickenbacker, Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark
UPS AirlinesChicago/Rockford, Louisville, Philadelphia


Countries served by flights to and from Detroit including seasonal and future destinations.

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 (September 2017 – August 2018)[74]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 804,670 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
2 Orlando, Florida 638,670 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
3 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 513,970 American, Delta, United
4 Las Vegas, Nevada 509,010 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
5 New York–LaGuardia, New York 502,750 American, Delta, Spirit
6 Denver, Colorado 452,310 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
7 Los Angeles, California 446,950 Delta, Spirit
8 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 438,800 Delta, JetBlue, Spirit
9 Boston, Massachusetts 434,420 Delta, JetBlue, Spirit
10 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 421,970 American, Delta, Spirit
Busiest International Routes to and from DTW (2015)[75]
Rank Airport Passengers Annual Change Carriers
1 Amsterdam, Netherlands 581,720 Decrease03.8% Delta
2 Paris–Charles de Gaulle, France 342,283 Increase010.3% Air France, Delta
3 Frankfurt, Germany 280,153 Decrease04.3% Delta, Lufthansa
4 Toronto–Pearson, Canada 246,953 Increase04.7% Air Canada, Delta
5 Seoul–Incheon, South Korea 224,781 Decrease02.1% Delta
6 Shanghai–Pudong, China 205,103 Increase023.9% Delta
7 Montréal–Trudeau, Canada 200,400 Increase022.7% Delta
8 Tokyo–Narita, Japan 197,070 Increase022.7% Delta
9 London–Heathrow, United Kingdom 185,147 Increase02.5% Delta, Virgin Atlantic
10 Cancún, Mexico 181,338 Decrease00.3% Delta, Icelandair, Spirit
11 Beijing–Capital, China 132,795 Decrease011.2% Delta
12 São Paulo–Guarulhos, Brazil 92,635 Decrease020.8% Delta
13 Mexico City, Mexico 80,207 Increase00.4% Delta
14 Rome–Fiumicino, Italy 79,032 Increase032.8% Delta
15 Nagoya, Japan 75,969 Decrease062.1% Delta
16 Amman–Queen Alia, Jordan 28,157 Increase04.2% Royal Jordanian
17 Monterrey, Mexico 26,145 Increase05.6% Delta
18 Ottawa, Canada 23,252 Increase00.6% Delta

Airline market share[edit]

Airline market share (2016)[76]
Rank Carrier Passengers Share
1 Delta 25,350,419 73.69%
2 Spirit 2,725,250 7.92%
3 American 2,232,368 6.49%
4 Southwest 1,706,661 4.96%
5 United 1,118,769 3.25%
Other airlines 1,267,787 3.69%

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at DTW, 1995 through 2017[77]
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
2017 34,701,497 2007 36,013,478 1997 30,732,871
2016 34,401,254 2006 35,972,673 1996 27,408,666
2015 33,440,112 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, behind a passing USA 3000 Airlines Airbus A320

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. 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-weather destinations in the early 2000s, 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 was 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 used the vacant terminal as a set (in addition to shooting in and around the airport's active terminals).

March 31, 2015, the board announced that it would seek bids to demolish the Berry terminal.[78] On April 16, 2015, the board announced it would construct a new facility for its offices that it would name after Michael Berry. It expected the new structure to open in 2017.[79] The Berry Terminal was demolished between December 2017 and January 2018.

L. C. Smith Terminal[edit]

Smith Terminal in 1962
The former Executive Terminal, 2018

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 1938 and is still in operation today as home to ASIG, a flight support company.

The Smith Terminal's 32 gates originally housed Allegheny Airlines (forerunner to US Airways), American Airlines, BOAC, North Central Airlines, Northwest Orient Airlines, and Pan Am, among others. The facility included a control tower which served its purpose until the late 1980s, when the airport constructed a new control tower near the 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.[80] 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 because the airport authority offices remain 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.[81] On May 20, 2009, the airport authority formally voted to totally vacate the Berry Terminal, while using the L.C. Smith Terminal for its offices.[82]

The Airport Authority also held discussions regarding of a new structure to house its offices and Airport Police, with a preliminary price tag of $31.5 million.

As of May 2018, preliminary plans have begun to demolish the Smith Terminal as part of the new Runway 3L project. The Smith Terminal area will be used for a De-ice pad for the 3L runway project.

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.[83] 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 D to F, as well as a Host Hotel which later was rebranded Marriott.[17] In the early 1980s, a separate ticketing area was constructed to the north of the Davey Terminal for international departures, along with Concourse G to accommodate Northwest Airlink's regional fleet. Concourse C, originally part of the Smith Terminal, became to be considered part of the Davey Terminal once Northwest Airlines began to use it in the 1990s.

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, during this time these gates on C were accessed through the Smith Terminal, as originally intended).[17]

Parking and ground transportation[edit]

Parking, Freeways, and Roads[edit]

The McNamara Terminal Parking Structure is an 89-acre (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, luggage check-in locations. The structure can accommodate 11,489 cars. Parking for the North Terminal is offered in a garage known as the Big Blue Deck.[84] One additional surface lot, named the Green Lot serves as overflow parking. A second surface lot, the Yellow Lot closed April 5, 2012.[85]

The airport is accessible from Interstate 94 (I-94) by taking exit 198 to Merriman Road, 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.[86]

Most major rental car companies serve the airport through shuttle busses to offsite locations.

Public Transportation and Inter-City Bus[edit]

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART, operates bus route 261 (FAST Michigan), a limited-stop service that connects both the McNamara and North Terminals to the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit and points in between for $2.00 one-way. [87][88]

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

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.[89]


  • 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.[14][90]
  • 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.[91]
  • 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.[92]

Accidents and incidents[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 from Detroit Metropolitan Airport while flying over Windsor, Ontario. It is thus sometimes referred to as the Windsor incident.[93] 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 three 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.[94]
  • August 16, 1987, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 255,[95] bound for Phoenix, Arizona, crashed on take-off from Metro's 8,500-foot-long (2,600 m) 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.[96]
  • 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".[97][98]
  • 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."[99]
  • 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.[100]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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External links[edit]