So, your travels have brought you to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Although you always hope travel will be quick and painless, sometimes you’ll find yourself at the Sky Harbor Airport terminals longer than planned, having to navigate the lay of the land with little luck.
We did some research and tapped our pool of travel experts to find out the best tips for Sky Harbor, also known as “America’s Friendliest Airport.”
Departures and Arrivals
Sky Harbor has more than 120 aircraft gates spread across three separate terminals. All three have their own facilities, such as parking garages, ticketing and check-in areas, baggage claims, security checkpoints, and shopping and dining options.
Terminal 2 (there is no Terminal 1) is only one level and is home to Alaska, Great Lakes, and United Airlines. Alaska and United are located in gates 1 through 15, while Great Lakes is in the C and D gates.
In Terminal 3 you’ll find Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, and Sun Country Airlines. Terminal 3 has two levels: the first, which is ticketing and baggage claim, and the second, where you’ll find security, the gates, and shopping. Gates 1 through 14 are Hawaiian and Sun Country, and in Gates 15 through 26, you’ll find Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit.
Last but not least, Terminal 4 is three levels and even once claimed the title “Terminal with the Best Customer Service.” Level 1 is baggage claim, Level 2 is ticketing, and Level 3 is security, gates, and shopping. In this terminal, the airlines you’ll find include Air Canada, American, British Airways, Southwest, US Airways, Volaris, and WestJet. American and US Airways are located at Gates A1 through A30 and Gates B1 through B14. Gates B15 through B22 are home to Air Canada, American, British Airways, US Airways, Volaris, and WestJet. All Southwest flights can be found at Gates C1 through C20 and Gates D1 through D8.
Expert Tip: If your connecting flight is on the same airline, you won’t have to change terminals. If it’s a different airline, you may need to change terminals, so plan your travels accordingly. You may have to claim your luggage and re-check it.
There are seven security checkpoints at Sky Harbor. In Terminal 2, there’s one, while in Terminal 3 there are two: North and South. Terminal 4 has checkpoints A, B, C, and D.
Expert Tip: Sky Harbor tends to be one of the busiest airports in the country, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get through security.
Both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are available at Sky Harbor. TSA PreCheck is currently available for Air Canada, Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country, United, and US Airways.
Food at Sky Harbor Airport Terminals
Traveling can make you work up an appetite, but lucky for you, there’s no shortage of places to get your grub on. Grab a slice in Terminal 2 at NYPD Pizza, or if you’re in the mood for something a bit healthier, you can head to Terminal 3 for some soup and salad at Jackalope Flats. However, you’ll find the best selection of food to nosh on in Terminal 4. You can get Mexican food at Barrio Café, flatbreads at the beloved Olive & Ivy, or pasta and a nice glass of wine at Sauce. Terminal 4 is also the best bet for vegetarians, vegans, or those on a gluten-free diet.
If you’re looking for coffee, Terminal 2 has a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and in Terminal 3, you’ll find a Starbucks. There are also some cafes in Terminal 4 where you can grab a cup of Joe.
If you’re looking for beverages of the adult variety, the Four Peaks Brewery has an excellent beer selection and some decent fare to boot. Taberna del Tequila in Terminal 3 has a variety of tequilas to sample. There are some options for imbibing in Terminal 2, but if you have the time, definitely head to Terminal 3 or 4.
If you need to boot up your laptop and get to work, then you’re in luck because Sky Harbor is equipped with free Wi-Fi throughout all terminals. However, if you’d rather chill out before your flight and do something more leisurely, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
Terminal 2 is home to rotating museum exhibitions. Most recently, the airport featured paintings, photographs, and drawings of Arizona’s Verde River. You’ll have to head to Terminal 3 or 4 for a wider array of shops, but Terminal 2 does have a few bookstores and gift shops, including Desert News & Books, Press Express, and the Phoenix Travelmart.
Terminal 3 also has rotating museum exhibitions if you happen to be an art lover. You’ll also find some fun and unique shops if you’re looking for souvineers or gifts. Talking Hands is a shop that specializes in Native American gifts, while Earth Spirit is a jewelry store—both great picks if you’re looking for something to commemorate your trip to Arizona. Curious Creatures is a great spot for children’s goodies, and if you’re in town to visit the spas, don’t miss Southwest Pizzazz, which has lots of resort wear options.
One of the coolest things that Sky Harbor has to offer is the Sky Harbor Fitness Trail located in Terminal 4. You can squeeze in some exercise in between flights with a two-mile fitness trail from the A to the D gates that even has seven free water bottle refilling stations along the way. Along your trek, you’ll be able to see sight of Phoenix along the way, including the downtown Phoenix skyline, Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, and the sandstone buttes at Papago Park.
Terminal 4 is also the terminal with the most shops, so definitely plan on making your way over here if you have a long layover. For the kids, definitely check out A to Z Kids and Caved Inn. For Native American artistry, Pueblo Spirit and Indigenous are great bets. If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, then make your way over to Sees Candy and Sweet Indulgences. Nothing like a good sugar high before boarding a flight!
Expert Tip: There are free electric charging stations available both pre and post-security, so don’t fret if your devices are losing juice—there are plenty places to recharge.
When you arrive at Sky Harbor, there are many options for transportation, depending on where you’re going. If you need to get to the Valley Metro Rail, which serves Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa, you can simply hop on the PHX Sky Train for free, and it’ll take you to the 44th and Washington Street station.
You can catch a taxi from all three terminals: east outside door #8 in Terminal 2, the north curb outside door #7 and south curb door #6 in Terminal 3, and the north curb outside door #7 and the south curb outside door #6 in Terminal 4. Rates are the same, regardless of the cab company you choose, and remember that you will be charged a $1 airport surcharge. Getting to downtown Phoenix will take approximately 10 minutes and cost you about $24. If you’re going to Scottsdale, expect the ride to take about 16 minutes, which will set you back about $32.
If you’re looking for an alternative to taxis, both Uber and Lyft are available in Phoenix. Additionally, you can use a shared ride van service to save a little bit of money. Vans run every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but they do run 24 hours a day. You’ll want to check with the service to find out the schedule outside of their normally scheduled hours.
So there you have it—your crash course onSky Harbor Airport terminals. Whether you’re coming or leaving, you now have all necessary details and tips and tricks to make your travels stress-free as possible, and maybe even enjoyable. Have any tips on Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport? Share them in the comments below.