Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is the major airport that serves Phoenix. Unlike built-in-the-boondocks airports in some big cities, Sky Harbor is only 3 miles from downtown and 15-30 minutes from most hotels and resorts. It is served by 20-plus carriers that provide nonstop flights to over 100 domestic and international destinations. Sky Harbor's average fare ranks as one the lowest among the country’s 10 busiest airports. Sky Harbor has trademarked the slogan “America’s Friendliest Airport,” and free WiFi in every terminal helps back up that claim. (There’s also a pet park in Terminal 4). Travelers flying to Phoenix from the Pacific Northwest and Midwest should check fares on Allegiant Air, which flies to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA) from 21 cities. Talk about the selected medium of transportation in the city.
Amtrak doesn't directly serve Phoenix, but connecting bus service is available at city-to-city transport desks located in all three terminals at Sky Harbor airport. Additional Amtrak Thruway bus service is available at the Phoenix Greyhound Station (PHG) and Phoenix Metro Center Transit Station (PXN).
Most buses transporting visitors to Phoenix are of the charter variety. If you choose to travel to the Valley of the Sun aboard Greyhound, you’re in for a long ride. (Figure about 8 hours from Southern California, 18 hours from Denver and 40 hours from Chicago.) The Phoenix Greyhound station is just west of Sky Harbor airport, off Interstate 10
Phoenix’s light rail system, which debuted in December 2008, is the newest in the U.S. As such, riding light rail in Phoenix has both its perks and drawbacks. Pro: The trains are sleek and modern and clean. Con: The network so far extends only 20 miles. Light rail is good for getting around downtown Phoenix and accessing the museums and restaurants along Central Avenue. It also stops at Tempe’s Mill Avenue District and Sky Harbor airport. (Until an automated people-mover is completed, airport-bound passengers must disembark at the 44th Street/Washington station and catch a free shuttle to the terminals.) Trains run until 11PM Sunday through Thursday and until 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays. A one-way fare is $1.75, but the smarter deal is a $3.50 all-day pass (which also covers bus transfers). If you do decide to hop off light rail and brave a city bus, expect to be the only non-Phoenician on board.
Taxis are plentiful in Phoenix, but it’s easier to phone one than flag one. Depending where you are, the base fare is $2.50-$3.50 and the cost per mile is $1.50-$2. The typical fare from the airport to downtown is $16. There are a zillion companies to choose from, but a few that have been around the block the longest are AAA Yellow Cab, Discount Cab, and VIP Taxi. If minimizing your impact on the ozone layer is worth a couple of extra minutes, you can request a lime-green Prius taxi from Discount Cab or place a call to Clean Air Cab, which advertises the metro area’s “only carbon-negative taxi fleet.” For short jaunts within downtown Phoenix, eschew a taxi in favor of a pedicab. The colorful drivers will get you where you’re going nearly as fast, for a negotiable tip.
Phoenix is a car town, and if you plan to stay more than a couple of days and see more than a few sights, renting a car is the best option. The 140-acre Rental Car Center at Sky Harbor airport is pretty impressive; it brims with natural light and houses every rental-car company you can imagine under its towering roof. Shuttles link the center to the terminals, and every rental-car customer rides the same bus. But take it from us—if you rent a car at the airport, you’ll pay for that nice building and nifty shuttle service; taxes and surcharges make Sky Harbor one of the most expensive airports in the U.S. for renting a car. Instead, reserve a car online from a non-airport rental site and take a taxi to its lot. It's worth the hassle for the money you'll save in the long run. Talk about how to get to the city using the selected medium of transportation.