These days, plane travel is not as friendly as it once was, unless your itinerary includes Phoenix Sky Harbor, which touts itself as “America’s Friendliest Airport.” Can an airport really be friendly? And what makes the largest airport in Arizona so friendly that they can boast it is the friendliest in the country?
This is what a few recent passengers said about their Sky Harbor experience on the consumer review site, yelp.com:
- Friendly TSA staffers moved big lines along quickly; even the drug sniffing dog at security was nice!
- Everything feels modern and clean for such a high-traffic airport. The restrooms are spotless and taken care of.
- Overall, this terminal is spacious, clean, has helpful staff, and it takes about 10-15 minutes to get through security. The food options are ample, and it’s a pretty great representation of Phoenix.
A little research revealed the following traits that help support Phoenix Sky Harbor’s claim America’s friendliest airport.
Courteous and helpful people
People are the face of any business, and Sky Harbor’s front line consists of a deep roster of super happy volunteers called “Navigators.” Awaiting you in purple suit coats around nearly every corner, they are a great resource to help you find your way around the airport, from a good place to grab a bagel or the nearest smoking area. Sky Harbor’s helpful culture extends to ticket agents, TSA personnel, shuttle drivers and others, too.
Sky Harbor Airport is conveniently located in central Arizona where several interstate highways and “loops” converge, approximately fifteen minutes from both downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe. The cities of Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Scottsdale, and Mesa are less than 30 minutes from Sky Harbor, as are many key attractions such as professional sporting arenas, world famous golf courses and universities.
Sky Harbor consists of three terminals (Terminal 2, Terminal 3 & Terminal 4); each hosting from three to seven airlines. (Map of terminals.) Terminal 1 no longer exists. The terminals are arranged in a neat row, from west to east, with an oval track sort of driveway connecting all three on both the north and south sides.
Clearly marked passenger pick up and drop off lanes hug the curb closest to each terminal on the bottom level, just beyond the hands-free doors next to the shiny baggage claim carousels. Outer lanes have stops for rental car agencies, Valley Metro buses and tour companies. You can also catch the PHX Sky Train free of charge to a nearby light rail connecting point.
Since each terminal has own security checkpoints, moving between the terminals is rarely necessary. When you need to do so, such as to make a connecting flight on a separate airline, a free shuttle whisks you from one terminal to another.
Convenient and Affordable Parking Options
If you need to park at Sky Harbor for just a few days, consider the garage attached to your airline’s terminal. The $25 daily maximum fee will put you in a spot just a couple hundred feet from the elevator. Choose the proper floor for ticketing or boarding and you’ll be at your gate in no time. If you are dropping off or picking someone up, the cost is only $4 an hour for spots right next to the elevator. If you want to save some dough and don’t mind shuttling a quarter mile to the terminal, park in the East or West Economy lot. Rates are $9 a day (or $11 for a covered spot).
Pet Patch, Paw Pad & Bone Yard
Sky Harbor boasts three pet parks for Fido and Fluffy to re-hydrate, stretch their paws, and most importantly, take a poddy break. Plastic bags are conveniently provided for cleaning up after your pet.
The Pet Patch is located just east of terminal 2. The Paw Pad is located outside the west doors of terminal 3. The Bone Yard is on the west side of terminal 4, just outside of baggage claim.
There are also two pet parks near the Sky Train stations. Park & Bark is near the economy east parking stop. Park ‘n Play is on the northwest corner of the 44th street stop.
As airports go, few can boast that they are truly friendly. But, Phoenix Sky Harbor lays claim to being “America’s Friendliest Airport” and backs it up with its top notch people, location, layout and parking.