Philadelphia Airport Guide
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Your Complete Guide to Philadelphia Airport

The fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States is served by Philadelphia Airport, known by its official IATA code of PHL and its ICAO code of KPHL. This airport is considered as one of the busiest in the country, as its passenger traffic exceeds thirty million every year, and is important for international traffic. The airport has a wide range of facilities, a number of options for ground transportation and there are many flights offered by some of the most well known American airline companies. It also serves as a hub for the carriers of US Airways and UPS Airways.

Philadelphia airport is located approximately seven miles from downtown Philadelphia, and in the state of Pennsylvania. It is found along the Delaware Expressway, or the Interstate 95, and nearby to Eastwick, Elmwood, Colwyn, Folcroft and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the airport property lies in Philadelphia, but the international terminal and western end of the airfield is part of Tinicum Township, in Delaware County. The large city of Philadelphia is to the southwest of New York City and to the northeast of Baltimore. Additional areas nearby are Allentown, Trenton, Brick, Reading and Lancaster. Passengers travelling to the airport in their own vehicles have several parking options. There are garages that are convenient for each terminal building, as well as an Economy Lot that offers slightly cheaper parking rates.

There are also many other ways to reach the airport. Public bus and train services are operated by SEPTA, and are considered as a cost efficient means of travelling to and from the airport. Private shuttle/bus services are available as well from many nearby areas, and conventional taxis can be used from all areas of the city. Transport of a more elegant nature can be organised from one of the airport’s limousine companies.

Philadelphia Airport opened in 1940, and was then served by just a few carriers which transported around 40,000 passengers per year. The airport was then referred to as the Philadelphia Municipal Airport. During World War II the airport was closed, but commercial air traffic was once again established in June of 1945, when it also became an international airport. In 1953, the airport received a new terminal building for its operations, that was built at a cost of approximately $15 million. Further improvements took place in the 1970’s, with the completion of the new Overseas Terminal and renovation and modernization of the domestic terminal. The domestic terminal was now no longer of a ‘central type’, but rather consisted of four unit terminals that were referred to as B, C, D and E. New parking areas were also constructed.

It was in 1985 that Philadelphia Airport was connected with downtown Philadelphia by a new rail line, which was a very important addition to the airport’s ground transportation services. The line is today used by thousands of passengers, and is one of the most popular ways to reach the city. Shortly thereafter, a new international terminal (Terminal A) began its construction, and opened in 1991. In 1998 Terminals B and C were completed, with the Philadelphia Marketplace between them. The airport has over 160 local and national shops and eateries, many of which are found at the Philadelphia Marketplace. In the early 2000’s two new terminals nearly doubled the airport’s size. Where previously the airport complex covered 1.4 million square feet, it now covered 2.4 million square feet. It also now had 130 boarding gates, compared to its previous 55. Construction work and improvements to Philadelphia Airport are on-going projects, as in 2008 the airport received a new Terminal D/E Connector with a fourteen-lane security checkpoint, runway extensions were made in 2009 and further terminal expansions were completed in later years.

The airport currently has a Master Plan in place that includes strategies and timelines for its improvements over the next twenty years. The plan is crucial to the airport’s stability, as currently it suffers from fairly severe congestion problems. In 2009 it was recorded to be the fourth most delayed airport in the country, and these delays have a negative impact on passengers, airline companies, cargo shippers and all other users of the air transportation system. The Master Plan will improve the airport’s overall capacity, as its passenger numbers are expected to increase quite dramatically over the next years. It is currently the eleventh busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements and handles close to 32 million passengers every year. By 2030, the airport should be able to accommodate up to 52.2 million passengers.

Today, Philadelphia International Airport consists of seven terminal buildings which are referred to as the Terminals A-West, A-East, B, C, D, E and F. There are 130 departure gates in total. Terminal A-West is used by the airline companies of British Airways, Lufthansa and US Airways, and is the international terminal of the airport. All flights from international countries, besides Canada, will arrive here. Flights from these airline companies take passengers to London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome, Paris, Brussels, Dublin, Madrid, Zurich, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Lisbon and many other locations. Approximately 4.3 million of the airport’s passengers fly on international flights. Terminal A-East was the former international terminal, but is now used by Frontier Airlines, American Airlines and American Eagle for domestic flights to Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and Denver.

Terminals B and C are mainly used by US Airways for domestic flights, and they have 32 gates in total. Terminals D, E and F are further domestic terminals used by a number of airline companies, such as Virgin America, US Airways Express (F), Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines and AirTran Airways. Terminal F is quite large with 39 gates, and is separate from the other terminals. A shuttle bus provides transport to Terminals A, B and C on the secure side of the buildings.

For further details regarding Philadelphia Airport information contact the airport at 215-683-9842.