Wings for Autism 2

Children with autism and their families aboard an American Airlines aircraft hearing safety messaging from crew as they ready to taxi around the runway. 

Wings for Autism® Returns to PHX Sky Harbor

Air travel can be stressful for even the most experienced of travelers with the large crowds, lines, loud noises and security procedures. Traveling with kids adds even more stress to the mix and now imagine if that child has autism.

“Loud places, unfamiliar routines, big groups of people all moving in different directions, it can be overwhelming,” Melanie Soto, the State Director of The Arc of Arizona explains.

Wings for Autism® is a partnership between The Arc of Arizona, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and American Airlines that provides the opportunity for families of children with autism to be able to test run air travel. This popular event has been hosted for seven years at the airport, giving children with autism and their families an opportunity to plan for the traveling experience at an airport with a rehearsal.

“Even though it’s a simulation, it allows families that opportunity to see if this is something their child would struggle with and to find other coping mechanisms to make air travel successful,” Soto said.

Wings for Autism 3Families like Bryan and Catharine Layton from Austin, Texas who traveled more than 1,000 miles by car with their son Brennan to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after learning there was availability in the first Wings for Autism® event since the pandemic.

“It took us three days to drive here. It was because we have just been unsuccessful flying with him, so this was an opportunity where we had enough time to go through the process, so Brennan was comfortable with it. He has missed out on a lot of family things because we just didn’t have the time to drive back and forth,” Catharine shared. “This is going to just change everything for him.”

Families comes to the airport with baggage in tow and they get to experience the entire process from checking in, getting a boarding pass, going through TSA, and they even get to board the plane.

During the rehearsal, the airplane engines are running so kids can feel – and hear – what that is like. The planes don't actually leave the ground, but when it's time for "takeoff" the cabin door is closed and safety announcements are made before a short taxi on the plane so the kids can feel the movement they would experience in a normal trip.

According to the CDC, 1 in 64 children in Arizona is on the autism spectrum.

“Having programs available for family with autism that happen at the speed of autism is invaluable, we need more of them across the country,” Brian said. “You can’t put a value on what Brennan just did.” The family was featured in this Cronkite News video about the program.

Wings for Autism 1“The event also is valuable to airport staff and airline employees as it gives them a real-life opportunity to understand how to accommodate individuals with autism,” said Director of Aviation Services Chad Makovsky. “The event can help staff learn what to look for and how to handle certain situations.”

And this year, airport staff received an extra special reward when the Layton family shared a photo from Disneyland. A trip they were able to take from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after the Wings for Autism® event.

Top photo: The Layton family selfie from the It’s a Small World After All ride at Disneyland following a successful flight with Brennan.

Bottom photo: Director of Aviation Services Chad Makovsky, Melanie Soto, State Director of The Arc of Arizona, and Sophia Philis-Ortiz, Managing Director of American Airlines at PHX, hold the Proclamation from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego declaring Oct. 21, 2022 Wings for Autism® day in the City of Phoenix.


12 Days of Gratitude

12 Days of Gratitude to Debut at PHX Sky Harbor

As we approach the holiday season, America’s Friendliest Airport® is planning to show gratitude for our customers. From Dec. 5-16, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will be hosting the 12 Days of Gratitude. Over the course of the 12 days, customers will find a variety of activities taking place in the terminals at different times of the day. Activities include a prize wheel, art scavenger hunt, photos with our mascot Amelia the Airplane, a Museum coloring activity for children, airport staff handing out special chocolate coins and thank you cards, photos with our Navigator Buddies, and more.

And, because it is the holiday season, we also want to provide our customers with the opportunity to show their gratitude. We will have a gratitude note easel display, an activity with the USO, and a canned food drive with a chance to win prizes.

Be sure to watch and our social media channels for updates on the days and times these activities will occur.



Busy Holiday Travel Crowds Start Even Before Arriving at the Airport

The next two months during the holiday travel season, travelers will encounter the holiday crowds even before stepping into the airport.  

The time period between Thanksgiving and early January is one of the busiest times of the year, not just in the skies but on roads around the airport.

It's always a good idea to arrive two hours before your flight (three hours if flying internationally) but travelers who plan to visit the Rental Car Center or park in one of our terminal garages or economy lot should allow extra time to get to the terminals. 

If you plan to park at the airport, reserve your parking in advance. Book your parking at Come early even if you have a reservation. We will be busy so allow for extra time to enter the parking facilities and find a space. You can also Use our Find A Spot tool to see parking availability.

Picking up or dropping off family and friends can be potentially stressful too. Here are some easy tips to avoid the congestion on airport roadways and outside terminals.

Take advantage of the 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station for pick-up and drop-off. This will help you avoid terminal curb congestion and roadway traffic. The 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station is centrally located on the southwest corner of 44th and Washington streets, and can easily be reached from highways, major streets and Valley Metro Rail.

Avoid circling the terminals. Use the Cell Phone Lots. The lots are east of Terminal 4, west of the West Economy Garage and at the 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station.

See more tips on our press release, Start Planning for the Holiday Season with These Helpful Tips.


Waymo - Phoenix - AZ - Stills 03 - Approved

Waymo Autonomous Vehicles Arrive at PHX

Sky Harbor is on-track to be the first airport in world to offer Waymo rider-only autonomous vehicle service

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, America’s Friendliest Airport®, recently set a global milestone to becoming the first airport in the world to offer travelers the ability to take a Waymo autonomous vehicle as a means of transportation to and from the airport. On Nov. 1, Waymo began offering Trusted Tester participants the ability to take autonomous rides to and from downtown Phoenix and the Airport with an autonomous specialist in the vehicle.

Trusted Testers are able to catch a ride 24 hours seven days a week in Waymo’s fully electric Jaguar I-PACE equipped with the fifth generation Waymo Driver. Current trips are offered with an autonomous specialist in the driver’s seat. In the future, the specialist will be removed from the vehicle and the ability to hail rides will begin to open to the general public.

Pickups and drop-offs occur at the 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station where travelers can hop on the free PHX Sky Train® direct to the terminals. Trains arrive and depart every few minutes.



From left: Phoenix Director of Aviation Services Chad Makovsky. Griz the Bear, Jake Filene, Senior Vice President, Customers, Frontier Airlines, City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Councilwoman Debra Stark, Frontier Airlines Flight Attendant Jocelyn Smith and Captain Scott Loomis.

Frontier Airlines Opens New Crew Base

Phoenix Sky Harbor and Frontier Airlines celebrated the opening of a new crew base at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Friday, Nov. 4. The base will initially employ up to 180 pilots and 275 flight attendants within its first year of operation. Combined with airport-based positions, the airline is expected to contribute more than $118 million in annual wages to the Phoenix-area economy.

Five new nonstop PHX routes also began on Saturday, Nov. 5. Frontier will serve Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Detroit and Orange County, California daily from Phoenix, and serve Cincinnati four times each week.



Exciting New Air Service and Destinations Added this Winter

November marks the start of a string of new air service and destinations coming to Phoenix.

On Nov. 19, Breeze Airways begins flights from Phoenix to Provo, Utah and Charleston, South Carolina. Next year, Breeze will begin nonstop service between Phoenix and Hartford, Connecticut; Richmond, Virgina; and Bentonville-Fayetteville, Arkansas, as well as one-stop/no plane change "BreezeThru" flights to New Orleans.

Also in early November, Spirit Airlines began daily nonstop service between Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale and the barbeque capital of the U.S., Kansas City.

America’s Friendliest Airport® adds additional international air service to Mexico beginning in the new year. American Airlines will begin daily, nonstop service from Phoenix to Monterrey, Mexico on Jan. 10, 2023.

Lynx Air, an ultra low-cost Canadian start-up carrier based in Calgary, has announced nonstop service to Phoenix. The Phoenix-Calgary nonstop flight will run three times weekly beginning Feb. 7, 2023.


Navigator pic

Chief Development Officer Jay Dewitt (left) attends Navigators Appreciation and Anniversary luncheon to thanks these front line volunteers all they do to make Phoenix Sky Harbor America's Friendliest Airport®.

Navigators Celebrate 22nd Anniversary

Over the last 20 years, more than 1,600 people have served as Sky Harbor Navigator volunteers. Some have been here since the very beginning and some for less than a year.

The Navigators debuted in 2000 after studying customer service initiatives at other airports. Volunteers show up for duty day and night, every day of the week and are briefed on any changes around the airport and assigned a station to provide travelers with advice, support and directions.

Volunteers supplement airport ambassadors, who are paid workers stationed at information desks. Some Navigators have volunteered more than 10,000 hours.

Regardless of the length of service, that dedication of volunteerism is inspiring to all who meet them and especially to those who work alongside them. Not many airport programs have the privilege of knowing so many incredible volunteers.

Whether it was helping someone find a gate, find a lost loved one, find a place to eat, or anything in between, Navigators have made a difference to countless customers over the years.


GY 1946

From Cotton Ranch to Pickled Planes to General Aviation

Happy anniversary to Phoenix Goodyear Airport! The airport is the result of a long history of community development, aircraft manufacturing and military service. It was purchased by the city of Phoenix in 1968 and today is a vital general aviation hub for Phoenix’s West Valley.

Goodyear has its roots with a cotton ranch started in 1917. Because of World War I, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company could not get long-staple cotton from Egypt for making their pneumatic tires. Phoenix’s West Valley proved to have the perfect cotton growing conditions.

World War II brought the need for massive production of military aircraft components and a plant was built at the cotton ranch. In 1943, the U.S. Navy ordered a portion of the Goodyear-Arizona plant to be utilized for aircraft modification. An area adjoining the plant was established as the U.S. Naval Air Facility to modify planes, test aircraft and deliver them as needed. The Navy constructed a landing field, a very large hangar, and 6,000-foot runway. The War ended and the Naval Air Facility was given the task of “pickling” or preserving and storing aircraft. By 1950, about 2,500 planes had been “pickled” at Goodyear.

In the 1960s, the City of Phoenix began searching for satellite airport sites to help relieve the volume of small aircraft using Phoenix Sky Harbor. The Naval Air Facility was put on surplus and the City bought it. Many names for the new airport were considered including Sky Haven, Hassayampa, White Tanks, West Phoenix, Tri-City and Goodlitch. The Phoenix City Council approved the name Phoenix-Litchfield Municipal Airport, but the city changed the name in 1986 to Phoenix Goodyear Airport.

GYR AdminBldg4For many years, a visit to the Goodyear airport was like a trip in a time capsule with facilities built in the 1940s. The old terminal was demolished in 1999 and on March 10, 2000, a new terminal was dedicated.

Today, the airport provides critical service to corporate and private pilots who come to the Valley of the Sun for major sporting events such as NASCAR and the Super Bowl. And earlier this year, it became home to the United Aviate Academy, training future airline pilots for United.


ENR award

Staff from City of Phoenix Aviation Department Design and Construction Services team, McCarthy Building Companies, SmithGroup and Corgan.


2022 ENR Southwest Best Projects Award

We are flying high from the news of Engineering News-Record recognizing the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Terminal 4 Eighth Concourse as the Best Airport/Transit Project in the Southwest region! ENR Southwest’s 2022 Best Projects competition drew 48 entries from across the three-state region of Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

See more about the ENR Southwest Best Projects.


NRC Award

From left: Ryan Barton, Andrew Bonds and Brett Aiken.

NRC Outstanding Outreach Program

Phoenix Sky Harbor is the recipient of the National Recycling Coalition’s 2022 Outstanding Outreach Program through its recycling program efforts.

The Outstanding Outreach Program is awarded to public, nonprofit or other entities showing leadership, creativity, quality, and success in diversion outreach. Way to go!


Roxanne Award

Congratulations to WISE Executive of the Year

Congratulations to Chief Revenue Officer Roxann Favors for winning the 2022 Inspirational Events Executive Award from the Women in Sports and Events.


Super Bowl

Super Bowl Pre Game Preps in Play at PHX

Feb. 13, the day after the Big Game, will likely be the busiest day of the year for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Looking back to 2015, Sky Harbor broke a single day record for the number of passengers traveling through the airport the day after the Super Bowl. That day approximately 175,000 passengers were on planes that accounted for 1,500 takeoffs and landings.

We are anticipating in 2023, to see more than 180,000 passengers the day after Big Game with similar numbers to 2015 for takeoffs and landings.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is well prepared to welcome visitors for major events. This is the fourth time that Arizona has hosted the Super Bowl. Additionally, each year, our staff prepares and welcomes travelers to major events such as the Phoenix Open, Spring Training and more. The airport works closely with our airport partners to ensure they are appropriately staffed to accommodate our passenger numbers. We continue to hold monthly job fairs so that our airport partners can recruit and fill any open positions they have.

We also have a great group of Navigator Volunteers and our Customer Service team is working with the Super Bowl Host Committee, so volunteers are on-site and ready to help passengers.

Be sure to visit the latest news, information, and travel tips, and stay tuned to future issues of PHX Check-In for a more in-depth look at our planning initiatives.



Share Your Feel-good Stories

As America’s Friendliest Airport®, we love our employees. And, we want to thank them for the great work they do. Have you experienced exceptional customer service? Tell us so we can recognize that employee.

Email us details and be sure to check our social media sites every Friday when we feature one of our outstanding employees who has received an On-the-FLY Award.

Here is one we are proud to share.

Fly Award FeatureLandscape Maintenance Supervisor II Francisco “Louie” Trujillo was outside the Facilities and Service building when he was approached by a crying, sad, and irate passenger. The woman’s Greyhound bus arrived late from Flagstaff, and a taxi driver left her at Facilities and Services instead of the terminal. The woman was on her way to a funeral, and the late bus caused her to miss her flight. Louie immediately offered to help the woman, calming her down and assuring her that everything would be okay because she was now his customer.

Louie escorted her to Terminal 3, waited in line with her, and helped explain the situation to the airline. Rebooked for the next day, Louie then took the customer to the Compassion Corner at Terminal 4 and worked with Terminal Operations so they could make sure she got on her flight the next day.

Louie provided great customer service at a time of need and embodied the America’s Friendliest Airport® philosophy.


Job Fair

Upcoming Job Fairs

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will host the final job fair of 2022 on Tuesday, Dec. 6. However, we are excited to announce jobs fairs will continue in the new year with job fairs scheduled through February.

The next PHX Job Fair will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station located at 44th and Washington streets.

The station is easily accessible by bus and Valley Metro Rail and transit pass will be offered to attendees. Parking is also available.

No preregistration is required to attend the event. Hundreds of available positions are looking to be filled including customer service agents, drivers, sales associates, and security.

The job fair has government positions with the City of Phoenix Aviation Department and the TSA, in addition to jobs with vendors that run the dining and shopping inside the airport. People also looking for opportunities with the airlines will find open positions at the upcoming job fairs.  

To learn more and to see positions being recruited by the airport and their partners, visit






Birdwatcher’s Report

Wow!!! Look at this C-5 Galaxy that stopped by Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport last month. This aircraft is part of the U.S. Air Force 433rd Airlift Wing in San Antonio. It arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor to pick up and transport Apache Helicopters.

Photo courtesy Jeff Wainscott.


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