By Mark Carlisle
Many travelers flying in and out of Phoenix will do so with more comfort and ease and with more shopping and dining options.
The city opened the next section of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s renovated John S. McCain III Terminal 3 last week and began construction on the final section this week, with plans to complete renovations in 2020.
The newly opened area includes the terminal’s south concourse and the second phase of renovations to its terminal processor, or post-security lobby. The newly-opened area includes widened walkways and raised ceilings, more natural light, new customer amenities, new public art and dozens of new shops and restaurants.
“The toughest question airline passengers have to answer at Sky Harbor these days might be which incredible shop or restaurant they want to visit first,” said Phoenix District 6 Councilman Sal DiCiccio during the Monday, Jan. 7 ribbon-cutting event.
Terminal 3’s south concourse serves Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue and Sun Country airlines. Once construction on Terminal 3’s north concourse, the final section of renovations, is completed in 2020, all airlines from Terminal 2 will relocate to Terminal 3’s north concourse and Terminal 2, the airport’s oldest and smallest terminal, will be demolished. The airlines that will relocate are Advanced Air, Alaska, Boutique Air, Contour Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United.
Terminal 3 renovations began in early 2015 with a budget of $590. The first phase of the terminal processor opened in Dec. 2016. The second phase of the terminal processor and the south concourse opened last week.
The newly-renovated terminal is named after the late John McCain, who represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate for 21 years and was a presidential nominee in 2008. Phoenix City Council approved the new named in December. Mr. McCain died in August.
Mr. McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, attended last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony with city officials.
“It was a great opening ceremony,” said District 3 Councilwoman Debra Stark during a Council meeting Tuesday. “It was wonderful to have Cindy McCain there, and she said it all when she said, ‘This is a welcoming door to Phoenix.’”
The terminal will feature its new name, John S. McCain III Terminal 3, on the west and east exterior walls and a bronze plaque will be installed in a pre-security location “to recognize the contributions of Senator McCain in his service to Arizona and as a highly-decorated aviator,” said Phoenix’s director of aviation services Jim Bennett.
The southern concourse now features 26 new restaurants and shops, 10 of which are local. Local shops include Best of the Valley Market, Indigenous and Mosaic. Local restaurants include Christopher’s, Mustache Pretzel, Original ChopShop, The Parlor, SanTan Brewing Company and The Tavern. Other popular eateries include Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, The Habit Burger Grill, Panera Bread and Shake Shack.
“It’s just beautiful walking in there. It doesn’t even feel like you’re at a terminal; it feels like you’re at a mall,” said District 8 Councilwoman Felicita Mendoza.
Mr. Bennett said the new concessions would win an award.
The new area includes two new public art installations: a colorful terrazzo floor by Arizona artist Teresa Villegas and Donald Lipski’s “Aviators,” which are giant, reflective aviator sunglasses on the wall of the arrivals atrium.
The southern concourse also feature’s Sky Harbor’s first Delta Sky Club, a children’s play area and an animal relief area with artificial grass and a fake fire hydrant. Nearly every seat includes an outlet and USB connection.
Outside the terminal, is a sculpture and botanical garden and an animal exercise park.
Two features of the old Terminal 3 lobby will remain at or around the airport.
The stained-glass ceiling above the escalator in the old lobby has been repurposed into wall art in the new arrivals plaza on the first floor. The biplane that hung above the same escalator is now on display at the 44th Street Sky Train Station, which carries passengers from parking and hotels to the airport.
The north concourse will have its walls expanded to allow room for more concessions and possibly another airline club. It will also have its ceilings raised and have skylights installed.
Coping with the shutdown
Ms. Stark mentioned during Tuesday’s Council meeting that city staff is brainstorming ways the city can assist federal workers who are working without a paycheck during the partial shutdown of the federal government, which began Dec. 22. Many of those workers are at Sky Harbor, including TSA agents.
Mayor Thelda Williams thanked those workers for their sacrifice.
“I want to thank all of the federal workers at the airport,” she said. “They continue to come without pay, keeping our airport safe, making sure the planes are landing and taking off safely, and I just think we are deeply indebted to them. They are very loyal to us, and I want to help them in any way we can.”