Managing KDEN

So I’m continuing my series and KDEN was voted for the most, so here is the thread for it. I’m just going over the basics of the airport and am trying to make IF more realistic with airport ATC and such.

Quick facts about Denver International Airport:

  • Denver International is the second largest airport in the world by hectares of land, measuring at around 13,500
  • Denver is a major hub for 3 airlines
  • As of 2017 Denver was the fifth busiest airport in the US, with 30,000,000 passengers annually
  • The airport is currently going through a 39 gate expansion
  • United Airlines predicts Denver to be it’s second largest hub by 2020. Currently it is in fourth behind Houston, Newark, and Chicago

Passenger terminal:

Concourse A

  • Frontier Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines ( not in IF )
  • American Airlines
  • jetBlue Airways
  • Allegiant Airlines ( very rare )
  • Lufthansa
  • Norweigan
  • British Airways
  • ANA
  • Copa Airlines
  • Volaris
  • Icelandair
  • Air Canada

Concourse B

  • United Airlines ( International & Domestic )
  • United Express

Concourse C

  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines

Cargo terminal:

Directly south of the passenger terminal. Denver is usually not a big airport when it comes to cargo opperations.


  • Departing runways are 8/26 , 34L/16R , 17R/35L
  • Heavy aircraft depart on 34L/16R or 17R/35L
  • For runway 34L/16R , depart on the 34L side
  • For runway 17R/35L , depart on the 17R side
  • For runway 8/26 , depart on the 8 side
  • That said, there should only be two active departing runways at a time
  • Always depart straight out
  • Departures are relatively fast, given only like 15 seconds when the plane in front of you rotates


  • Landing runways are 34R/16L , 35R/17L , 7/25
  • Heavy aircraft land on 35R/17L
  • Runway 34R/16L can be approached on by both sides of the runway ( can land on either side )
  • For runway 7/25 , land on the 7 side
  • For runway 35R/17L , you can land on both sides of the runway
  • Max of three active landing runways
  • Expect long taxi times to the terminal, because of every runway being spread out so far


  • If a plane requests pushback, expect the runway closest to that plane
  • For specific situations, don’t hesitate to stop incoming traffic into the airport
  • Airport sits at an elevation of around 5,500 feet. It can also be foggy at times
  • For landing runway 7/25 , have all traffic be inbound from the south or north, there are mountains straight to the west of the airport

That is all I have to say. It is IF , so no, it’s not going to be perfect. But hey, now you know the basics.

Have fun flying to Denver!! ( Managing KLAS is next )


Amazing job! Look forward to the next one :)

Super super minor detail, but ANA does not fly to Denver :)

Also if anyone is interested:

Only thing that I’d add is that all pushbacks are straight back. Denver does not permit ground crews to turn aircraft during a pushback. The only turns that are permitted with a tug are if the aircraft is being towed out of the gate and to a pad.

Other than that, looks pretty good. 🙂


Very good. Also 8 and 25 are almost ALWAYS open for departures unless the wind dictates otherwise, but 25 and 8 are very popular for departures. I’ve also seen landings on 25 in rare occasions of high wind. Also mountains are not that close to the airport, straight in arrivals on 7 are ok 👌. ALSO: sorry to be picky: ALL international arrivals must use Terminal A, regardless of airline


thx bud :)

I’ve only been in Denver twice, not too familiar with it all.

If I remember correctly, Southwest, United, and Delta have hubs at KDEN.


EDIT: United, Frontier, and a focus airport for Southwest

Alllll this info, but you forgot to mention which airlines…lol

Yes, that’s correct.

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Based on this FlightAware screenshot, I don’t believe that is an accurate statement. Unless I’m incorrect in what constitutes a straight out departure.

The departures heading west are from 17L - this definitively doesn’t appear to be straight out.

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FYI - I am listening to LiveATC and current ops has 16L, 16R, and 17R for arrivals with 8, 16R, and 17L for departures.

The use of 16R and 17L appears to be in contrast to your document. To be honest, there are so many possible configurations due to wind/flow I would be hesitant to say specific runways are only used for departures/arrivals.

Additionally, I find “If a plane requests pushback, expect the runway closest to that plane” is somewhat contradictory to most airport operations I am familiar with. You say you are not that familiar with this airport. What is your source for this info?

PS - Sorry for being such a critic. However, I do like this concept.

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Why is it only straight back?

There are a few reasons why Denver does this.

  • Denver has a lot of Departures/Arrivals. When compared to larger airports such as LAX or JFK, the turn around time for an aircraft is typically longer. Airlines want to get into and out of Denver because time is money. There aren’t a ton of gates to handle demand. Which leads into why Denver is expanding all of their terminals for the next few years. (That’s another topic) The only way to safely get a departing and arriving aircraft out of/into a gate is to keep them straight.

  • Take the image below of KDEN Concourse C (Southwest Airlines & Spirit [they have 2 gates]). This is the south side of Concourse C. For this example we’ll look specifically at gates 24 through 36. C38 is a city gate and can be used by any airline. That’s the one just to the left of the tower with the Delta MD80 in the gate. You will see that the gates look like your typical terminal/concourse. Jam packed with not much room to move around in the gate.

  • Just behind the tails of the aircraft there’s an active taxiway. Taxiway CS (Charlie Sierra) splits off into what looks like a turnout for the concourse. This line is actually painted purple. The aircraft will actually push into this purple taxiway. I’ve pointed to this purple taxiway with the red arrows. Just behind the purple taxiway is the main drag CS taxiway. The main taxiway can bee seen just above the blue arrow. When pushed straight back, the pilots have better visibility when ground instructs them to look for a United Airlines traffic on their left. Now, if an aircraft were to push back tail left onto the purple line, that aircraft would not be able to see that United traffic on their left because, well, they can’t see what’s behind them. The FO would really have to stick his head out of the window and look to the right and behind the aircraft.

  • Long story short is the straight back at Denver is particularly done for efficiency and safety. You can get a lot of planes in and out in a short time frame while ensuring the movement of aircraft, passengers, and cargo is done safely.


Ah interesting ,does make sense after all
KDEN is jammed packed and I’ve heard they are in need of more gates and stuff

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To my knowledge Delta has a hub at nearby KSLC and not KDEN


Correct. Frontier would be the other airline with a hub in Denver.


That’s interesting that you pointed out SWA doing that. They do the same straight back pushes here at CMH, where em only have one taxiway behind the gates. No other airline does that here, so I thought it was a SWA thing lol.

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Good work. enjoyed the commentary

And also add making people depart off of 17L.

Efficient taxi time my…

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