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Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport 101: The ultimate guide to PHX

May 15, 2022
15 min read
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Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is the eighth-busiest airport in the U.S., serving 21 million passengers in 2020, according to Airports Council International-North America. The airport is a hub for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines and is served by carriers including Air Canada, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, Volaris and WestJet.

Navigating Phoenix Sky Harbor is relatively easy since there are only two terminals: Terminal 3 and Terminal 4. The terminals are divided, so you can't walk between the two; however, there is a free PHX Sky Train passengers can use when transferring. Transportation options to and from the airport include the bus, light rail, car, ride-sharing services, taxi, shuttle van, limousines and black car services.

The airport completed a $590 million modernization of Terminal 3 in 2020. The airport now features a more efficient security checkpoint, additional ticket counters, additional baggage claim carousels, new food and retail options, additional gates and an expanded curb for drop-off and pickup.

Art of the new eight-gate concourse at Sky Harbor's Terminal 4. (Image courtesy of City of Phoenix - Aviation Department)

A new $310 million eight-gate concourse in Terminal 4 is opening in the summer of 2022. It will add another 130,000 square feet in space, along with new retail and dining options as well as a new connector bridge to the north Terminal 4 concourses, among other improvements.

Here’s TPG's comprehensive guide to everything Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has to offer, from the time to arrive until you take off.

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Getting there

(Image courtesy of City of Phoenix - Aviation Department)

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is located 4 miles from downtown Phoenix and Tempe, 7 miles from Scottsdale, 14 miles from Glendale and 18 miles from Chandler. There are plenty of ways to get to and from PHX, including public transportation, shuttle, ride-sharing services, black cars and limousines.

Public transportation

Bus

(Photo courtesy of City of Phoenix - Aviation Department)

The airport is served by two bus lines. The Valley Metro Route 13 bus stops west of Terminal 3 near the airport's operations building. The Route 44 bus ends just north of the airport at the 44th Street stop, where passengers can board the Sky Train to reach the terminals.

Transit time: Medium.

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Cost: $.

Light rail

The 44th Street PHX Sky Train Station connects to the city's Valley Metro Rail, which gets you to locations in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa.

Transit time: Medium.

Cost: $.

Shuttle

SuperShuttle Express offers shared and group direct rides to and from the airport.

Transit time: Medium.

Cost: $$.

Ride-hailing services

There are three places to catch your Uber, Lyft or other ride-hailing vehicle:

  • Terminal 3: west end between doors two and four.
  • Terminal 4: far west end of Level 1, outside door one.
  • Terminal 4: east end of Level 1, outside door six or eight.

Transit time: Medium.

Cost: $/$$.

Taxi

The airport is served by three companies: AAA/Yellow Cab, Mayflower Cab and VIP Taxi. The minimum fare is $15, and there's a $17 flat rate for rides to downtown Phoenix.

Transit time: Medium.

Cost: $/$$.

Black car/limousine

Black car operators at the airport include ExecuCar, Phoenix Black Car and Blacklane. Phoenix Airport Limo, Roadrunner Limousine and AZ Limo are your options for more luxury travel.

Transit time: Medium.

Cost: $$$$.

Other options

The Rental Car Center is located a few minutes away from the airport at 1805 E. Sky Harbor Circle South. The rental car shuttle — which runs 24/7 — makes multiple stops at the curb on baggage claim levels of both terminals.

Amenities

(Photo courtesy of City of Phoenix - Aviation Department)

The airport has amassed a collection of contemporary art to showcase the local art community. The collection includes portable works, site-specific installations and architectural enhancements, such as a giant, beloved mural by Paul Coze that used to reside in the now-demolished Terminal 2. Current exhibits include "Persistent Plants & Desert Dwellers: Arizona's Flora and Fauna" in Terminal 3 and "Earth and Sky" in Terminal 4.

Sky Harbor has nursing stations in both terminals, located pre- and post-security. Each station has a sink and countertop, a soap dispenser, a paper towel dispenser, a baby changing station, comfortable seating and an electrical outlet. The terminals also have nursing pods, located after security. They include a bench, a fold-down table and an electrical outlet.

Terminal 3 stations are near the baggage claim elevators on Level 5 (pre-security); Level 4 across from Gate F5 (post-security); and near Gate E5 (post-security). The nursing pod is situated in the central restroom alcove after security.

Terminal 4 stations are located next to the family restroom on Level 3; across from Starbucks on the south end of gates B15-22 (post-security); directly after Security Checkpoint D (post-security); and on the north end of the A17-30 concourse (post-security). Nursing pods are located near Gate A22 (post-security), near Security Checkpoint D (post-security), across from Gate A3 (post-security) and near the men's restroom across from gates C11 and C13 (post-security).

The Compassion Corner is a space with three components: the chapel, the Compassion Corner Office and the Sensory Room. The chapel allows those of all faiths to worship, reflect or pray independently. The office is a private space used to help manage distressed passengers or those with matters that need to be private. The Sensory Room is a quiet space that serves special needs travelers who need a sensory break. The Compassion Corner is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Travelers interested in shopping can stop at Indigenous to buy Native American items exclusive to Arizona and the Southwest; Roosevelt Row, which showcases products crafted by local Phoenix artists; and Treat, which provides travel essentials along with health and wellness services including COVID-19 testing, prescription and nonprescription drugs.

Lounges

Phoenix Sky Harbor doesn't have as many lounges as other top 10 airports, but you're covered if you're an American Airlines or Delta Air Lines elite traveler. You're also covered if you carry The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Centurion card.

The information for the Centurion Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Terminal 3

Delta Sky Club

The Delta Sky Club at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

Location: Near Gate F8.

Hours: 4:45 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Access: Delta Gold Medallions and higher traveling internationally; SkyTeam Elite Plus members; premium-cabin passengers who are connecting to or from same-day SkyTeam international long-haul or premium transcontinental flights; Delta Sky Club members; and cardholders of the Amex Platinum Card, the Amex Business Platinum Card, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card when traveling on any same-day Delta flight. Those with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card can purchase day passes for $39.

Amenities: Complimentary hot and cold foods, wine, beer, spirits, Starbucks coffee, Wi-Fi and power outlets.

Related: The ultimate guide to Delta Sky Club access

Escape Lounge – The Centurion® Studio Partner

Escape Lounge at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. (Photo courtesy of Escape Lounge)

Location: Level 4, post-security next to Passage by Hudson and the Phoenix Airport Museum Gallery.

Hours: 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Access: Free to Amex Platinum, Amex Business Platinum and Centurion cardholders; Delta Reserve and Delta Business Reserve cardholders are free when flying same-day Delta flights. All others pay $40 if they prebook at least 24 hours in advance or $45 for a walk-up.

Amenities: Free food, cocktails, wine, beer (signature beverages come with a charge), ultra-fast, private Wi-Fi; charging ports at every seat; and free access to PressReader.

Related: A small, hidden gem: A review of the Phoenix Escape Lounge

Terminal 4

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

American Airlines Admirals Clubs

Location: Concourse A above gates A7-A9.

Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Access: First- or business-class customers on a qualifying departing or arriving international, transcontinental or other domestic flight marketed and operated by American, a Oneworld carrier or flights marketed by JetBlue and operated by American; annual and lifetime members, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® primary cardholders, ConciergeKey members and AirPass members with Admirals Club privileges; AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro and AAdvantage Platinum members; and non-AAdvantage Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members. One-day passes are available for $59, based on capacity.

Amenities: Complimentary food and drinks, full-service bar and free Wi-Fi.

Location: Concourse A, between gates A19-A21.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Access: First- or business-class customers on a qualifying departing or arriving international, transcontinental or other domestic flight marketed and operated by American, a Oneworld carrier or flights marketed by JetBlue and operated by American; annual and lifetime members, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® primary cardholders, ConciergeKey members and AirPass members with Admirals Club privileges; AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro and AAdvantage Platinum members; and non-AAdvantage Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members. One-day passes are available for $59, based on capacity.

Amenities: Complimentary food and drinks, full-service bar and free Wi-Fi.

Location: Concourse B, above gates B5 and B7.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Access: First- or business-class customers on a qualifying departing or arriving international, transcontinental or other domestic flight marketed and operated by American, a Oneworld carrier or flights marketed by JetBlue and operated by American; annual and lifetime members, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® primary cardholders, ConciergeKey members and AirPass members with Admirals Club privileges; AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro and AAdvantage Platinum members; and non-AAdvantage Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members. One-day passes are available for $59, based on capacity.

Amenities: Complimentary food and drinks, full-service bar and free Wi-Fi.

Related: The ultimate guide to American Airlines Admirals Club access

USO Lounge

Location: Pre-security on the east end of Level 2.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday

Access: Military members and their families.

Amenities: Sofas and chairs, computers, large-screen televisions, games, a kitchen and a children's play area. Books, snacks, soft drinks and water are provided for free.

Dining

Sky Harbor has a good mix of original, local and national food options, along with options for gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian travelers. Many restaurants offer special meals or items just for children. It's good to check the airport's dining section on the website to make sure your favorite places are open.

Terminal 3

SanTan Brewing Company

Come to this gastropub to check out locally brewed beers, including stouts, porters and ales.

Location: North Concourse.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cuisine: Hot wings, burgers, sandwiches and salads

Price: $$.

Pro tip: Get a seat near the window to enjoy a great view of the airport.

The Tavern

(Photo courtesy of City of Phoenix - Aviation Department)

This restaurant is a twist on the popular Phoenix restaurant Tarbell's, known for its classic American dishes paired with an amazing selection of global wines. The Tavern serves upscale versions of burgers, sandwiches, salads and tacos. If you want a meal before boarding your flight, you can order spice-rubbed flat iron steak, green chile pork stew and seared Scottish salmon.

Location: South Concourse.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cuisine: Classic American.

Price: $$$.

Pro tip: The roasted beets with Crow’s Dairy “quark,” chive and local greens dish is great.

Other dining options include Starbucks, Shake Shack, Phoenix Beer Co., The Habit Burger Grill and Peet's Coffee.

Terminal 4

Blanco Tacos & Tequila

(Photo courtesy of Blanco Tacos & Tequila)

Come here for classic Mexican fare, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas and hand-made guacamole.

Location: Near Gate A5.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cuisine: Mexican.

Price: $$.

Pro tip: Don't miss out on the classic margaritas.

Wildflower Bread Company

If you're looking for a tasty sandwich or salad, this is the place to go. It also serves delicious soups and desserts.

Location: Gate A9.

Hours: 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cuisine: Healthy.

Price: $$.

Pro tip: Grab a sea salt brownie or a cranberry scone for a nice inflight treat.

Humble Pie Pizza

Location: Gate A20.

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cuisine: Pizza, burgers, sandwiches and salad.

Price: $$.

Cowboy Ciao

Cowboy Ciao at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. (Photo courtesy of City of Phoenix - Aviation Department)

This airport spot is all that's left of a popular and beloved restaurant located in Old Town Scottsdale that abruptly closed in 2018. The restaurant is a mix of upscale comfort food and Southwest-inspired dishes.

Location: Near Gate B22.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cuisine: Modern American.

Price: $$$.

Pro tip: Try the Lester's Burger Bonanza, an Asian-Latin fusion made with ground wagyu beef topped with green chile pork and served on a challah knot roll.

Airport hotels

Although Sky Harbor doesn't have an on-site hotel, there's a great selection of properties nearby, from budget to upscale. If you don't need to stay overnight, call the hotel and ask if they have day rates.

Hilton Phoenix Airport

(Photo courtesy of Hilton Phoenix Airport)

A 10-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the hotel has a free 24-hour shuttle, an outdoor pool, a fitness center and a grab-and-go cafe. Rennick’s Restaurant serves continental cuisine with Southwestern flair, while Rimrock Bar & Grille offers hearty American dishes.

Rooms come with a desk, free Wi-Fi, a minifridge, a clock radio, a 50-inch HDTV, deluxe toiletries, a glass-front shower, a Cuisinart coffee maker, a hair dryer and an iron with ironing board. A room with a king or two queen beds costs $177 or 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Marriott Phoenix Airport

(Photo courtesy of Marriott Phoenix Airport)

This hotel is minutes away from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and offers a free shuttle. Enjoy amenities including an outdoor pool, a fitness center and a convenience store. The Red Rim Bistro features American cuisine, along with cocktails, wine and beer.

Rooms feature soundproof windows (some with views of Camelback Mountain), flat-panel smart televisions and room service. A king room is $259 or 23,000 points per night.

Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport

A room in the Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport)

Located about 10 minutes away from the airport, the Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport has an outdoor pool, a fitness center, free Wi-Fi and is pet-friendly. Guests get a free breakfast that includes hot and cold food, along with coffee, milk, juice or tea. The Placery, part of the lobby bar, offers burgers, salad and sandwiches, and beer, wine and cocktails.

Hyatt Place rooms have a bedroom, a divided sitting room with a convertible sofa bed, a desk with an ergonomic chair, a minifridge and a wet bar. A king room starts at $165 or 6,500 World of Hyatt points per night.

Featured image by SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more