Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Travel Tips
Welcome to the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Also known as America’s friendliness airport.
Traveling can be stressful sometimes. Especially when you add in airport travel that’s surrounded by thousands of other people who are hustling to make the next segment of their adventure.
That’s why it can be important to know what you are getting into and to have a successful plan already in place. Here, you will find travel tips to help you navigate the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport without delays to that flight.
What to Expect
Phoenix Sky Harbor is Arizona’s largest and busiest airport. From now till 2040, the airport will be having construction and upgrades done, to accommodate the increase of people flying. Terminal 2 has been demolished in 2020, so expect changes in the future.
As locals that travel through this airport regularly, we try to keep you informed on any changes that can affect travel. It is always wise to check with the airline you are flying with before for any updates.
This terminal is the oldest, which opened in 1962 and is the smallest at Sky Harbor Airport. It is also currently in the process of slowly transferring gates over to the other terminals, due to demolition plans for 2020.
Recently, Spirit Airlines is one of the first that transferred from terminal 2 to 3. As of now, the rest of the airlines from terminal 2 are now flying out of the other two terminals. The airlines that recently switched are United, Boutique Air, Contour, and Alaska.
Terminal 3 is newly updated and will house the airlines from terminal 2 eventually, along with Delta, Hawaiian, Sun Country, Frontier, and JetBlue Airways.
On level 1 you will find baggage and ticketing. Once you have your boarding pass, head up the escalators to level 2, which will take you through security. Don’t bother trying to find level 3, you won’t find it, since it no longer exists.
Take the escalators to level 4 where you will find the gates, dinning options, and retail shops. This level will also give you access to the Phoenix Sky Train, that can take you to terminal 4, the east economy parking lot, or to the metro rail.
A few good places for food to try is Shake Shack (South Concourse), SanTan Brewing Company (South Concourse), The Parlor (Post-security), or The Tavern (South Concourse).
Here you will find American Airlines on the A and B side, while the C and D side is home to Southwest Airlines. At the end of the B gates is the international section.
Terminal 4 is the largest terminal at the airport. It has 86 gates that are home to Air Canada, British Airways, Volaris, WestJet, Southwest, and American Airlines.
At this terminal, you will find a variety of shops and dining options to suit your cravings. A suggestion for food is to try Four Peaks Brewery, located by the higher A gates. It is a local favorite and loved by many.
Are you an Amex Business Platinum member or have a Centurion Card? Then you have complimentary access to the Escape Lounge. With a valid same day boarding pass, you and up to 2 guests can enjoy drinks and food from their chef inspired menu.
Don’t have one of the cards, then you can pay a $45 fee at the airport or $40 online at the Escape Lounges website.
- Free WiFi available, just connect to the “Free Phoenix Boingo WiFi”.
- No lockers present.
- Chapel located in T4, on level 3.
- Pet relief outdoor stations located:
- T3 will have the “Paw Pad” on the west side.
- T4 you will find “East Economy Park & Bark” between the PHX Sky Train and East Economy Parking.
- T4 will also have the “Bone Yard” outside Baggage claim, towards B and C security side.
- Pet relief indoor stations located:
- T3 has an airside on the South side.
- T4 airside is next to the restrooms at B2.
- Currency exchange is only located in T4, with one outside of B security section on level 3 and the other inside by B15.
Airport Clubs & Lounges
Clubs and lounges are a great way to relax or get a recharge when flying. At Sky Harbor, you will find 3 clubs and 1 lounge, to choose from.
United had a lounge in terminal 2, but it has been moved to terminal 3 where they will now fly out of. In terminal 3, you will also see the newly opened Delta Sky Club.
Terminal 4 will house the American Airlines Admiral Club. Here you have to have a boarding pass for the same day to access this members only section. If you are military in uniform and traveling on American, then you can access this club. Finally, is the British Airways Lounge, which is also located in terminal 4.
Getting To And From The Airport
The Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is very easy to access from street, rail, or freeways. It is located off of either the I-10 or the 202, depending on the direction you are coming from. Rush hour for the freeways will start around 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., so make sure to leave enough time for traffic. Don’t want to drive into the airport to drop off people, then try the Phoenix Sky Station on 44th Street.
Phoenix has a great Light Rail train, which can take you from downtown Mesa to 19th Avenue in central Phoenix. It has stops along the way on the popular Mill Avenue, ASU, Sky Harbor Airport and downtown Phoenix.
A single ride will cost around $2, while an all day pass will be $4. If you are 6-18 years old, a senior, Medicare holders, or have a disability then you can apply for a reduced fair. Hours will be 4:40 a.m. to midnight for weekdays and 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. for Saturday’s.
The car rental station was finished a few years ago, but is located a few minutes from the airport. Currently, the city is still working on expanding the Sky Train from the airport to the rental place. This means, you will have to take a bus from the car rental place off of 24th street, which can take 10-30 minuets.
If you are visiting during the holidays or the very busy months of February to March, then prepare for an even longer wait. We have the Phoenix Open, Barrett Jackson Car Auction, and Spring Training to name just a few. A smart move is to try returning it the night before or drop off your luggage and family beforehand to make it less of a hassle.
Ride shares are popular in Phoenix and are very easy to use. Each terminal has a section dedicated to ride shares. When using the Uber or Lyft app, make sure to dedicate which terminal you are at and if you’re on the north or south side. Be prepared to have your ride arrive within a few minutes.
Each terminal will have signage pointing you towards the area with taxis. They will be available 24 hours a day and will be located by the baggage claim. First mile will cost $5, with additional miles being $2.30. Minimum fare is $15 and they have a flat $17 rate within certain downtown areas.
For the terminal 3 taxis area, it will be located on the ground floor, north curb, door 7, on the outer curb. Lastly, at terminal 4, taxis will be by outer north curb, door 5, and the south curb by door 6.
The three companies to choose from are:
AAA/Yellow Cab Phone #: 480-888-8888
Mayflower Cab Phone #: 602-955-1355
VIP TAXI Phone#: 602-300-3000
For a shuttle service, you can call Shuttlefare, which has replaced the out of business, Super Shuttle. Their fares will start at $12 per person. They can help you find the best ride share service or other transportation services that you need.
The pick up locations for terminal 3 is by south side, door 8. Look for the signage that says “Van Service”. At the terminal , then go check in at their service counter by door 8. If you checked in online, then just head to the curbside area outside of door 8.
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Where To Sleep
Ideally, you will want to book yourself a hotel or airbnb for the night if you really want comfort. There are no designated sleeping areas inside of the airport.
For the easiest, you can always take the Sky Train to 44th street station. On this corner, you will see the Aloft Hotel and Crowne Plaza Hotel. A little farther down by half a mile is the new Holiday Inn & Suits.
If you have time, look into an airbnb, but ask or try to get one by the light rail. It will make an easy and cheap way to get from the airport to your accommodations.
Furthermore, there is the option of sleeping at the airport. Unfortunately, they do not have chairs that are armrest free. So, that leaves the best option for laying down being the level 1 baggage claim area. The floors are carpeted here and it can be easier to find a quiet corner.
Like with any airport, you will want some ear plugs for the noises from the cleaning crew and announcements. Have a sweater or travel sleeping bag to stay warm. The indoor temperature is not unpleasant or too cold, compare to other airports.
Tips For An Easy Airport Experience
Wanting to get through the airport without stress is something every traveler desperately wants. Whether you are an expert or first time flyer. I’ve gathered some airport tips to help make you an experienced airport traveler.
Picking up passengers and need to wait for them? Head to one of the cell phone lots. The cell phone waiting lot for terminal 3 is located west of the east economy parking. There will also be one on the east side of terminal 4.
Both cell phone lots will have flight information displayed and each host 90 slots. The last option is the smaller cell phone lot, without flight displays at the PHX Sky Train station at 44th street and Washington.
- How early should I arrive? You will be fine with arriving 2 hours before any domestic flight and 3 hours for an international one. Traveling during the holidays, then give an extra hour for longer lines.
- How long will security take me to get through? When the airport is slow, you will only take 5 minutes at most. Waiting in line on those busier days can set you back 30-45 mins.
- How long will it take to go through customs? The custom screening is very efficient and will get you through in a timely manner. Expect it to take 7 to 25 mins for the average wait time.
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Have you traveled through Phoenix Sky Harbor before? what did you think of it or is there anything you would recommend for other travelers? Have any other activities or places we should see, let us know in the comments section. From Phoenix? Hi neighbored! Thanks for taking a look at our site and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles and tips.
The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable.