Flying small jets to small towns generally makes me feel like an afterthought for the airline industry.
Going to Grand Rapids or Cedar Rapids, Fresno or Pasco, Colorado Springs or Palm Springs more often than not means dark, dank regional terminals seemingly miles from the main airport concourse with snack machines as the only food and beverage options.
But the new United Express regional jet terminal at Denver International Airport has grown into a surprisingly pleasant oasis. While it still seems miles from the main concourse (all gates are numbered in the 80s and 90s), the $40 million, 16-gate terminal is bright, airy and comfortable.
Open less than a year, the expansion at the far end of the B concourse offers a Starbucks at each end and better food options than some areas of the main concourses.
The New Belgium Hub right at the steps down to the new terminal is an off-shoot of the New Belgium microbrewery, a Fort Collins, Colorado, institution known for the popular Fat Tire Ale. Typical brewpub fare is offered in a small but pleasant setting.
Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, another Colorado institution, opened in the middle of United’s regional jet terminal, offering such East Coast standards as hot corned beef or egg salad sandwiches and crab cakes as well smoothies, wraps, salads and breakfast fare.
With regional air service growing, the airport is considering expanding its other terminals for small jet use as well.