When I recently returned from the Pacific Northwest and entered the atrium of the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), it wasn’t long before I broke into a big smile. Through the canopies covering the walkway, I could see our brilliant sun shining through, warming me after a chilly flight.

The Sonny Bono Concourse at the Palm Springs International Airport

There’s plenty of shade at the Palm Springs International Airport. Photo by Kathy Condon

What makes Palm Springs International Airport so special?

The flight into the airport treats passengers to breathtaking views of the mountains surrounding the Coachella Valley. PSP is located in the west end of Palm Springs, and depending on the direction of the wind, you may have a bird’s eye view of the entire length of the Valley as your aircraft approaches the landing field.

For those who frequently use PSP for commuting, it’s impossible not to compare it to the bustling and often confusing airports scattered throughout the United States. Yes, we are indeed spoiled and fully acknowledge it, as the ease and comfort provided by this airport continue to be appreciated by residents and visitors alike.

International art adorns the premises

As you descend the escalator, gaze across the expansive courtyard. A life-size, artistically-decorated bighorn sheep greets you on the left, and in front of you is a large circular sculpture that leads your eye to the baggage claim area.

A suggestion: since there is no rush to get to baggage claim, stop and take some time to look at art tucked in spots around the airport.

A sculpture of a big horned sheep at Palm Springs International Airport by Joe Wertheimer and Mark Junge

There are several works of art on display across Palm Springs International Airport. Photo by Nadine Conger

A testament to historic modernism design

Donald Wexler was renowned for his outstanding mid-century designs. He created many public and residential buildings; however, the commission for the airport terminal was considered his most significant project.

Wexler’s design encapsulated the quintessential mid-century elements: clean lines, steel and glass materials, graceful contours, and spacious interiors. Today, the terminal still boasts a 30-foot overhanging roof, floor-to-ceiling glass entryways, and an unobstructed view of the mountains.

Due to the popularity of our destination, PSP is planning for the future, and with help from Wexler’s son and input from the community, the airport is looking for ways to expand the bays for docking aircraft. In the meantime, there is construction within the terminal to create new retail and restaurants. Happily, I can report that these additions will be establishments owned by local vendors. 

A red and blue metal sculpture by Tom Holland at the Palm Springs International Airport

This metal sculpture was created by Tom Holland. Photo by Nadine Conger

Airlines serving Palm Springs International Airport with direct flights

A caveat: It is essential to check each airline’s direct flight schedules, since they change their schedules often and some routes are seasonal.

Air Canada: Toronto and Vancouver

Alaska: New York City (JFK); Boise; Portland; Seattle; San Francisco; and Everett, Washington

Allegiant Air: Des Moines and Bellingham, Washington

American Airlines: Chicago; Dallas; Phoenix; and Austin, Texas

Avelo Air: Bend/Redmond, Oregon; Eugene, Oregon; and Santa Rosa, California

Delta: Atlanta; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; and Seattle

Flair Airlines: Vancouver

Jet Blue: New York City (JFK)

Sun Country: Minneapolis

United: Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; and San Francisco

WestJet: Calgary; Edmonton; Vancouver; and Winnipeg

Transportation to and from PSP

Rarely is an international airport so close to downtown as ours is in Palm Springs, with it taking about 10 minutes to drive there. If you reserve a rental car, you’ll find the vendors directly across from baggage claim. 

You can have a stress-free vacation, which includes no driving, by hailing a taxi lined up in front of the baggage exit area. If you would rather take Lyft or Uber, we have drivers eager to help you reach your destination. Town car services are also available; be sure to reserve before your arrival. They are willing to take you to any place in the Valley or even to the always fascinating Joshua Tree area.

The pride of Palm Springs

I trust I have illustrated why we residents take immense pride in our Palm Springs International Airport. Yes, it is going through a transition period, so if you see construction going on, be assured care is being taken to ensure it doesn’t impact your experience. Meanwhile, we know you will step off that plane and break into a smile as you see our beautiful sunshine.

After catching a ride to your Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel, you’ll want to quickly unpack and then plunge into the pool. Oh, and it is alright if you post your picture poolside — after all, you were smart enough to plan your visit to Palm Springs.

A metal sculpture at the Palm Springs International Airport

See if you can spot this metal piece of art at the Palm Springs International Airport. Photo by Nadine Conger

The readers have spoken, and they love the Palm Springs International Airport.

The Points Guy, a travel website and blog, asks its readers every year to vote on their favorite airport, and for the 2021 TPG Awards, Palm Springs came out on top. The Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is the only commercial service airport in the Coachella Valley, with 11 airlines providing nonstop service to more than 30 destinations across the United States and Canada. It’s also known for its extensive art collection.

In a statement, Mayor Cristy Holstege and Visit Greater Palm Springs President and CEO Scott White said they are “thrilled” by the honor.

“With its open-air walkways and lushly landscaped courtyards that lead within minutes to baggage claims and its breathtaking mountain views, PSP is a surprisingly welcomed and stress-free experience for visitors,” White added.