The Des Moines International Airport (DSM/KDSM) is located 3 miles to the southwest of the capitol of Iowa, Des Moines. The airport is a public use airport overseen by the Des Moines Airport Authority. The airport has two runways, 5/23 & 13/31, both 9,003′ long. In 2019, the airport saw 2,919,904 passangers with the number expected to grow post COVID-19. The airport operates out of a single terminal with two concourses. Concourse A serves Allegiant Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines and Concourse B serves American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Frontier Airlines. The airport has been in negotiations over the past few years to construct a completely new terminal as they are quickly outgrowing their current building and should be expected to begin construction within the next decade.
As of December 2020 the airlines and destinations are as follows: Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlinesm, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. The airport is also home to a large cargo operation with FedEx and UPS operating to over ten destinations. There are also quite a few general aviation, cargo, and military aircraft operating in the airport as well.
Written by Sam Thomas. Last Update: December 2020
How was your trip? Rate this airport!
| (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
|05/23||9,003ft/2,744m – Asphalt and Concrete|
|17L/35R||9,002ft/2,744m – Asphalt|
|Terminals||Single terminal shared by all airlines operating at the airport. Terminal divided into two concourses A and B, but since COVID-19 outbreak airlines do not operate of specific concourses.|
|Concourse A||Various airlines.|
|Concourse B||Various airlines.|
|Ladder||Not Required at all.|
|Car/Public Transport||Required for all spotting locations.|
|Restrooms||Located inside terminal and grocery store and gas stations across the street from main terminal.|
|Drinks/Food||Limited options inside terminal, fast food, grocery store, and gas stations surronding the airport.|
|Hotels||Various hotels located on Fleur drive near the airport.|
|Season||Summer & Winter lighting is very good. Fall & spring can be challanging with lighting and weather.|
|Security||Never had any issues with security here.|
|General Info||Runways are arranged in an “X” configuration. There is not usually a pattern followed by the airport regarding runway usage.
Usually one active runway in use being used for the arrivals and departures at the airport.
|Spot #1 – Parking Garage – All movements (ramp + runways)|
|WHERE||Located on top of the short & long term parking structure. Go in through short term parking gate and go up parking garage to the top level. There is a small hourly charge to access this location when using a vehicle and then position yourself either at the northern or southern end as explained below…|
|WHAT||There are two locations at this parking garage (North & South).
North: This side is used when aircraft are landing or departing on runway 5/23. This is espically good when aircraft are landing and departing on runway 23 as you are able to get close and unobstructed shots of the aircraft. This side is also good for spotting any aircraft using the signature flight support. Is is not uncommon for charter jets to use this location including 737’s.
South: This side is used when aircraft are landing or departing on runway 13/31. You are also able to get close photos of the aircraft landing and departing but I much prefer the north side for photos.
|TIME||Summer and Winter mornings have the best lighting at this location. You are able to see all aircraft from this location but lighting can be challanging espically during the fall and spring months.|
|MISC.||It is hard to get photos without obstacles on the lower levels. There is stairs and elevators to the terminal on all levels with access to restrooms and the gift shops and restrooms.
It can get very bitter cold in the winter months and I reccomend keeping your car running to stay warm in between aircraft arrivals and departures. In summer haze may be a problem sometimes.
|Spot #2 – Fleur Cinema Parking Lot – 23 Arrivals|
|WHERE||Located on the corner of Fleur & McKinley Avenue. Drive behind the Hyvee grocery store and park in the cinema parking lot and then position yourself on one side of the arrival path.|
|WHAT||This spot is only usable when aircraft are landing on runway 23. It can be trickey to see aircraft incoming due to trees so you have to be on top of everything to get usable shots from this location.|
|TIME||This spot can be used all day actually as you can easily change sides of the arrival path here. However, the northern side never gets light from fall to spring.|
|MISC.||Parking lot can be very busy with the local businesses. It is best to lay low and only leave vehicle when taking photos to avoid any issues.|
Taking on both sides of the arrival path:
|Spot #3 – Universal Insurance Parking – 23 Movements|
|WHERE||Located directly across the airport on MiKinley Avenue. Pull into the parking lot and it gives a nice view above the airport directly looking at runway 23 and the airport terminal.|
|WHAT||This location is good for spotting aircraft landing and deparing runway 23, utilizing Signature flight services and can be useful for spotting aircraft arriving and deparing terminal.|
|TIME||This location is only good in the late spring and summer months. The lighting is good in the afternoon to sunset and can allow for great photos due to its uniquie viewpoint.|
|MISC.||There are a few business’ operating out of this small building and I would not reccomnd utilziing the spot during busines hours. I only reccomnd this location for spotting in the afternoon as it is vacant.|
|Spot #4 – Cell Phone Parking Lot – 31 Arrivals|
|WHERE||This location is the Des Moines International Airport Cell Phone Lot. Follow any sinage at the airprot or on the surronding roads to find this location.|
|WHAT||This location is good for aircraft landing on runway 31.|
|TIME||The lighting is good for all day spotting but is espically good past noon to sunset. If there is snow on the ground it allows for amazing lighting and reflections on the aircraft.|
|MISC.||This is the waiting area for arriving passangers so it can get crowded. You can defiently get some people looking at you when using this area.|
|Spot #5 – Electrical Power Products Parking Lot – 05/23 movements|
|WHERE||This location is located southwest of the junction of Army Post Rd & SW 42nd Street. Pull into the parking lot and park in the first row of spots facing the north and then just spot from one of the elevated areas here: either the parking, the meadow a bit to the west or the sidewalks around here.|
|WHAT||This location is good for aircraft arriving and departing on runway 05/23 thus actuallyall movements on this runway.|
|TIME||This spot can be used year around till the mid afternoon. Lighting can be espically good in the spring and fall months.|
|MISC.||This is another fully operating business and you must be respectful of their propety. I try to come when they are not operating to avoid any issues.|
Awesome info thanks for sharing!
You forgot a spot for runway 13, if you want I can show you
Would be awesome, if you could help out there. Please send us some example pictures and information via mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s a good spot for 13? I spot here almost every weekend.