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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

7 Reasons Why Palm Springs Airport is the Right Choice for Visitors?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

On the grounds of the Palm Springs Airport a large circular sculpture . In the background an expanse of grass.
Sculpture on the Pathway to Terminals at the Palm Springs Airport Photo Kathy Condon

With an imminent trip to Seattle North Country, I was delighted to discover a direct flight from our Palm Springs airport to Seattle Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on Alaska Airlines. I shouldn't have been surprised, for there are 30 direct flights to Palm Springs International Airport (PSP).

When the public relations group DVA Advertising and Public Relations asked me to come to Seattle North Country to visit and share information about the area, I was thrilled, for after all, Washington State had been my home for 24 years before I moved to Palm Springs. I'm heading to North Country in a couple of weeks, but now I want to focus on our fabulous Palm Springs Airport.

What is so Special about Palm Springs Airport?

A view as you come off the airplane at the Palm Springs Airport. A line of seats and boxes holding art in the background.
Lobby area in the Sonny Bono Terminal of the Palm Springs Airport Photo by Nadine Conger

Anyone who has ever flown into or left this airport can answer that question. Frankly, we residents still never take the beauty and ease of this airport for granted. The flight into the airport provides an astounding view of the mountains surrounding Coachella Valley.

We residents who use it and commute frequently can't help but compare it to the busy and often confusing airports scattered throughout the United States. Yes, we are spoiled, and we know it for the ease of this airport continues to be appreciated by residents and visitors alike.

If you fly into the Palm Springs airport on a large plane, you will dock at the Sono Bono Terminal. Once you leave your aircraft, you walk past a few retail stores and restaurants before stepping onto the open-air escalator on the path to Baggage Claim.

Historic Modernism Design

Donald Wexler's acceptance of the commission to design the Palm Springs Airport terminal was the largest of his lifetime. Wexler was known for his outstanding mid-century design, for he was the architect for many of the newly built public buildings and residential homes popping up throughout the rapidly growing Palm Springs community in the 50s and 60s.

Wexler used the mid-century design elements of simple design, timeless steel and glass materials, elegant lines, and open spaces. Today, the 30 ft overhanging roof with floor-to-ceiling glass entrance and exit frames the mountain view is intact.

Now, funds have been approved to make changes and additions to the building. Happily, I learned at a social event one of Wexler's sons is working with planners to help ensure that the additions and changes help maintain the integrity of the original building.

The terminal was constructed in the now-defined Modernism or Mid-century style that has become the trademark of Palm Springs. Modernism Week, with October and February events, allows access to view and study the unique architecture.

International Art is Located throughout the Terminal and the Grounds

A large glass sculpture created by Dale Chilhuly. An ameba-like shells . The outer area dark blue, the innner shell multi- color.
One of the Dale Chihuly glass sculptures in the Sonny Bono Terminal Photo by Nadine Conger

As you leave the plane and enter the concourse, you see four large clear boxes holding exquisite pieces of Dale Chihuly's glass shell sculpture. At the foot of the escalator, a life-sized big-horn sheep, artistically created, waits for you as you follow the path to Baggage Claim.

Slow down and take notice, for you will be surprised how much art is scattered on this short walk. If you arrive with your dog, you will see the open area on the right—the perfect place to have him stretch before you continue your journey. While he plays, peer at the art in the far corner.

I was honored to be asked to write an article for the Palm Springs Preferred Hotels site about the art at the airport. Quickly, I discovered there was little information documenting the art. It became an excellent research paper. Famous International artists created many enormously valuable pieces of art throughout the airport. See my article on the art at the Palm Springs Airport.

A view of a canopy over the escalator area on the way to the Sonny Bono Terminal
The escalator on the way to the Sonny Bono Terminal at the Palm Springs Airport Photo by Kathy Condon

Restaurants and Retails Stores in the Palm Springs Airport Terminal

Up until now, restaurants and shopping have been quite limited. An early flight meant you could get your wake-up coffee at The PSP Coffee House and grab a pastry. One day, I had packed my snack for a long trip, only to discover I had left it in the refrigerator. I was delighted the Desert News/Desert Mart was open so I could grab a fresh deli sandwich.

However, this limited availability is about to change. The new revamping of the airport means more room for restaurants and retail. The local community is smiling broadly for the powers that be have agreed to use all local vendors—no big corporation organizations will be found in the terminal.

Convenient Transportation to All Areas of Coachella Valley

It is not often one will be flying in and out of an airport, literally a 10-minute, at most, ride to downtown of a city, which is the case in Palm Springs. My condo is out of the flight path. I tell people coming to visit me to text me when they land. Then, I head out to pick them up and arrive as they are coming to the curve outside the terminal.

If you are going to one of the other eight cities in Coachella Valley, there is no problem finding transportation to your destinations. Rental cars are on site, and taxis line up to meet scheduled flights. Uber and Lyft are easily accessible.

What Airlines Fly into the Palm Springs Airport?

Keep in mind that some airlines seize flying during the summer or reduce the number of flights. You will want to check with the airline directly for up-to-date information.

  • American Airlines

  • Avelo Air

  • United

  • US Airways

  • Delta

  • Frontier Airlines

  • Virgin America

  • Allegiant Air

  • Sun Country

  • WestJet

Palm Springs Departing or Arriving at Los Angeles Airport (LAX)

For many international trips, locals fly out of LAX. We rent a car and drop it at the airport for long trips. For shorter ones, we drive to LAX, about a 2.5-hour drive in good traffic.

Also, check Flixbus to see if it works with your schedule. Unfortunately, even though we have a train, its stop in Palm Springs is scheduled late at night, and early morning stops rarely match your needs.

Town Car Service can be arranged for transportation between the airports. As I write, services start at $103 one way.

A cacus on the left and a artistically designed Big Horn Sheep.
Sculpture of a Big Horn Sheep on the grounds of the Palm Springs Airport Photo by Kathy Condon

Yes, we are proud of Palm Springs Airport (PSP). I trust I have painted a picture of what it is like and what to look for when you arrive or depart from our special terminal. We locals are very proud of it, and it is a special place to come home to after any trip, whether for business or pleasure.

One last thing---As you leave the terminal, you will see the brightly colored benches. Artists were commissioned to design our benches throughout the community by the Public Arts Commission. The perfect place for you to wait for your ride to your lovely stay in what we like to call our desert paradise.

Kathy Condon Journalist and Travel Writer in white blouse,  and gold beads.
Kathy Condon Journalist & Travel Writer

Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. She covers luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. She is the owner and developer of Palm Springs Insider Guide, which includes information she cultivated from her 11-year residency in Palm Springs, California. 760-902-3094

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Sep 07, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Maybe your best article. Truly love this piece Kathy. Thank you!

Kathy Condon
Kathy Condon
Sep 07, 2023
Replying to

Now that is what you call a great comment to wake up to--thanks.


Sep 06, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

One of the best airports in the US. Thanks for the details. ~MaryGo

Kathy Condon
Kathy Condon
Sep 07, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so truly was fun to write and dig deep about the Palm Springs Airport.

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