Sky Harbor – PHX

PHX Overview :

Phoenix has 3 main runways. Runway 08/26 is on the north side while Runways 25/07 (L/R) are on the south side of the terminal complex.

Runway 08/26 is mainly used for landing with very few takeoffs (British Airways always uses this runway for takeoff)

Runway 07L/25R is the main takeoff runway while 07R/25L is used for landings.

Phoenix has 3 terminal buildings namely (T4/3/2). Note: There is no terminal1.

  • Terminal 2: Continental, Alaska and United
  • Terminal 3: Delta, Frontier, AirTran, American, Hawaiian, and JetBlue
  • Terminal 4: Southwest, US Airways, Air Canada, AeroMexico and British Airways.
  • All of the parking garages have a fee of $4 per hour.


Off Airport Locations



1.       Tempe Beach Park

a.       Description

  • Tempe beach park is a park along the Tempe beach. You can walk around the whole park to get shots of aircraft landing on 26. Aircraft landing on the 25’s will be backlit in the winter.
  • Since this is a public location, security is not a concern here.
  • Parking is free at the Tempe beach or Tempe Center of the Arts locations.
  • Make sure you check for events before you go as parking there maybe traffic restrictions

b.      Sample Images

2.       Air Lane

a.       Description

  • There is a small parking area on Air Lane which was initially closed off but has reopened. This location is good to get shots in the summer of aircraft landing on rwy26 (early AM and late PM).
  • Security is not a concern here. I haven’t seen anyone being told to leave.
  • Parking is free.

b.      Sample Images

3.       40th Street

a.       Description

  • There is a dirt area at the end of 40th street. You can park your car on the dirt area and get out to take shots.
  • This is a great location in the winter when aircraft on the 25/07’s can’t be snapped from the parking garages. You can get landing/departing action on both runways all day long.
  • Spotters have been asked to leave this location before so I am not sure if this location is accessible anymore.

b.      Sample Images

4.       Barrios Unidos Park

a.       Description

  • This is a small park on the west side of the airport across from the rental car garage. This is the opposite of tempe beach park and is useful when aircraft are landing on the 07/08 runways. Aircraft landing on the 07 runways got right overhead and are a little tough to snap. 08 shots can be had all year long.
  • Parking is free
  • Security is not a concern since this is a public park.
  • Sample Images

5.       Employee parking entrance

a.       Description

  • There is a small dirt area before the entrance to employee parking. This area is at the threshold of rwy08. You can get shots of aircraft landing on 08 or taking off from 26. Since there are very few takeoffs from 26, this location is not good when traffic is landing from the east.
  • To get to this area, you can turn north on 24th street from buckeye road, then turn right at the next light (which is Sky Harbor Circle)
  • Security shouldn’t be a concern as I haven’t heard of anyone being asked to leave from this location.

b.      Sample Images

Parking Garages

Terminal 2

Description :

The T2 parking garage is only 2 levels tall and there is no view to the south side (which is where the gates are located) so the only spotting you can do here is on the north side overlooking the landing zone of rwy08. This is where most aircraft will turn off when they land on rwy26.

Shots can be taken all year long from this location (won’t be backlit).

Sample Images :

–          BA with downtown :

–          Alaska Landing :

Terminal 3 –

Description :

  • The T3 garage is a good location to get close-up shots of aircraft taxiing to the gates you can also get shots of aircraft rotating in front of you when are departing (either runway).
  • You can go to the upper levels to get un-cluttered shots.
  • Shots of the north side can be had anytime of the year (won’t be backlit).


Sample Images :

T3 North :

T3 South :

T3 East :


Terminal 4 –

Description :

  • This is a huge garage, you can go to any level to get uncluttered shots from either side north/south/east/west. It is a good location to get close-up shots of aircraft taxiing to the gates you can also get shots of aircraft lining up on 25R or landing on 25L. You can also get aircraft touching down on 26 with the Papago mountains in the backdrop which is a signature shot from Phoenix.
  • From the east side, you can catch aircraft taxiing on taxiway Romeo to depart on rwy25R. Shots are well lit from noon to sunset here.
  • From the west side, you can catch aircraft taxiing on taxiways Sierra/Tango with the PHX tower in the background. Shots are well lit from morning to noon here.
  • With the construction of the new Air Train bridges, the southwest gates have become obstructed.

Sample Images :

T4 North :

T4 South :

T4 East :

T4 West :

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