Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is Arizona's biggest and busiest. It's the starting point of many adventures in the great American Southwest, including Grand Canyon National Park, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Other nearby attractions include Camelback Mountain, Antelope Canyon, and Oljato-Monument Valley on the Utah border. Phoenix Sky Harbor spans between 24th Street and 44th Street, from Buckeye Road to Air Lane. Its three terminals and 116 gates see the coming and going of more than 1,000 aircraft daily. It acts as one of the biggest hubs for both American and Southwest Airlines, which operate about 250 and 180-plus flights respectively per day.
Phoenix Sky Harbor—nicknamed America's Friendliest Airport—increased in popularity steadily from the early 2000s, prompting the Phoenix City Council to implement a 20-year plan to expand and improve the travel center. By 2040, it will be capable of serving 70 million people per year and have buses that will drive passengers from their gates to the tarmac. One of the first steps in the multi-decade plan is to demolish Terminal 2; one of the last is to renovate the international terminal (Terminal 4).
With the airport undergoing long-term construction over the coming years, it could become less efficient than it is under normal circumstances, but once the project is completed, it could be among the most innovative travel hubs in the country.
Sky Harbor Code, Location, and Contact Information
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is just 3 miles southeast of downtown Phoenix.
Know Before You Go
PHX's three terminals—2, 3, and 4—are housed in separate buildings and connected either by the PHX Sky Train shuttle or by covered walkways. The Sky Train route starts at the Valley Metro Rail Station on 44th Street, stopping at the East Economy Parking Lot, then to Terminal 4 on the east side of the airport, and, finally, Terminal 3. It runs both directions, 24 hours a day. To get from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, passengers must take the covered walkway from Terminal 3 Station. On the west end of the airport is the West Economy Park & Walk, another Cell Phone Lot, and the Rental Car Center across I-10.
The original Terminal 2 is where you'll find gates for Alaska, Boutique Air, Contour, United, and Spirit. Terminal 3 is home to Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, and Sun Country, and Terminal 4 is the biggest—with four concourses—housing Air Canada, American, British Airways, Southwest, Volaris, WestJet, and more. If traveling from one end of Terminal 4 to the other, expect to do some walking. In fact, the walkway between Concourses A and D is officially called the Sky Harbor Fitness Trail, so you'd better keep a pair of sneakers in your carry-on.
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is currently operating almost at capacity, so you can also expect some crowding. Avoid peak travel times and check the TSA wait times that are conveniently posted in real-time on the PHX website.
Sky Harbor International Airport Parking
Parking at the airport is available in garages that are located just outside of each terminal (Terminal 4 is divided into zones that correspond with different security checkpoints) and long-term Economy Lots on Sky Harbor Boulevard. The garages cost $4 hourly or $27 for the day and can be reserved up to six months in advance. Likewise, the East Economy Surface Lot and East Economy Garage (both connected to the airport by the PHX Sky Train) offer discounted rates for people who reserve their spots at least a week in advance. The East Economy Garages cost $4 hourly or $14 for the day, whereas their corresponding uncovered lot only costs $12 for the day.
There's also an Economy Garage and Lot on the west side, outside of Terminal 2, and it costs $4 hourly or $12 and $10, respectively, for the day. Metered parking is available at the PHX Sky Train Station on 44th Street for short-term visitors, too.
Be aware that although Tucson is south of Phoenix, the signs that lead to the airport from Downtown on I-10 actually indicate Tucson East. Additionally, there are two Loop 202 exits on I-10 and Loop 101: the Red Mountain Freeway and the SanTan Freeway. You'll want to take the former.
- From the north: Take I-17 South or Loop 101 South to I-10, then I-10 East (toward Tucson) to the Sky Harbor International Airport exit.
- From Scottsdale, north Tempe, or north Mesa: Take Loop 101 South (Pima Freeway or Price Freeway) to Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway), and then the 202 West to Sky Harbor International Airport.
- From the south: Take U.S. 60 (Superstition Freeway) West to Loop 101 (Price Freeway), then Loop 101 North to Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway), and Loop 202 West to Sky Harbor International Airport exit. Alternatively, take U.S. 60 West to I-10, then I-10 West (toward Phoenix) to State Route 143, which leads to the airport.
Public Transportation and Taxis
With the last stop on the PHX Sky Train being the Valley Metro Rail Station, making your way downtown by train is quick and easy. This station is a direct connection to the Valley Metro Rail, a 28-mile light rail line that services Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. The trip downtown takes between 40 and 50 minutes and costs $4 for a day pass (or $2 for a one-way trip). You can use the online trip planner to find out which route is best for you and your destination. Alternatively, there's the Valley Metro bus. Route 44 runs from the Valley Metro Rail Station all the way up to Desert Ridge, stopping at ample places to make a westbound connection into Downtown between. The fares for Metro buses and the light rail are the same.
Taxis are available outside Door 8 in Terminal 2, outside Door 7 in Terminal 3, and outside Door 7 on the north curb or Door 6 on the south curb of Terminal 4. Only designated companies—AAA/Yellow Cab, Mayflower Cab, and VIP Taxi—are able to pick up passengers from the airport. They charge $5 for the first mile and $2.30 for each additional mile. The minimum fare is $15. Rental cars are only available at the Car Rental Center offsite (on the west side across I-10), not within the airport, itself.
Where to Eat and Drink
Whereas Terminals 2 and 3 only have a handful of food options apiece, Terminal 4 is brimming with variety, boasting everything from tacos to barbecue, from burgers to breakfast. Terminal 2 standouts include Barrio Avion (Mexican) and NYPD Pizza. Terminal 3 has, in addition to a 24-hour Farmer's Market and Wendy's, an outpost of El Portal (Sonoran). Travelers who don't fancy those options, however, are free to dine at the pre-security eateries in Terminal 4, including Blue Mesa Tacos, Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar, Joe's Real BBQ, Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles, and Smashburger.
After security in Terminal 4, there's Blanco Tacos & Tequila, Dilly's Deli, and the Scottsdale-based Mediterranean eatery Olive & Ivy between Gates A1 and A14; Four Peaks Brewery and Humble Pie Pizza between Gates A15 and A30; Focaccia Fiorentina (authentic Italian) and Matt's Big Breakfast between Gates B1 and B14; Los Taquitos between Gates C1 and C10; Sir Veza's Taco Garage between Gates C11 and C20; and Barrio Café featuring tequila cocktails between Gates D1 and D8. Needless to say, lovers of Mexican cuisine will have no issue with the fare at Phoenix Sky Harbor.
The American Airlines Admirals Club is located in both Concourses A and B of the international terminal. They can be accessed by members or paid for at the door with proof of an American Airlines ticket. British Airways has a lounge here, too (between B21 and B23). The Delta Sky Club is located near Gate 8 in Terminal 3 and near Gate 7 in Terminal 2. A USO Lounge is also available for active members of the U.S. military and their families on the east end of Terminal 4. The temporary location of the Escape Lounge, lastly, is located near Gate B15 in the international terminal.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Wi-fi is free and unlimited on the Free PHX Boingo Wi-Fi network. Passengers can find charging points at the Get Plugged In kiosks and more than 30 charging tables throughout the airport (check the lobby of any terminal).
Sky Harbor Tips and Tidbits
- There's a Pet Patch on the east end of Terminal 2, where four-legged travelers can relieve themselves outside. There's a similar Paw Pad outside Terminal 3 and a Bone Yard outside Terminal 4.
- Several bookstores throughout the airport (including Desert News & Books and Phoenix TravelMart in Terminal 2 and Desert News & Gifts and CNBC News in Terminal 4) participate in the Read & Return program. Simply check out a book, read it, and return it to the same location for a credit on your next purchase.
- If you have time to kill, check out the museums (featuring rotating art and science exhibitions) in any of the three terminals.