Lonely Planet Writer

76-Second Travel Show: 'Making friends at Phoenix's airport'

Recently, we were approached by men’s grooming brand Axe to discuss working together. This article was inspired by a survey carried out by Axe.


Phoenix's Sky Harbor is supposedly awful as a place to make friends or score dates. The weather's too good, there are few delays (though my flight was delayed an hour) and amenities are limited to Wendy's, a coffee shop and a bar with no music, just a sign saying -- with a playful punch to the shoulder - 'Free Beer! Tomorrow.'

I went Monday to see if I could make a friend at the world's worst airport for doing so. And people were pretty nice to me during my five-hour experiment waiting there. The TSA folk were practically flirtatious, with flyers giving pats on the back to them for their jokes as they checked IDs for potential terrorists. Inside the terminal, I liked the brownish carpet with psychedelic plane motifs, how United dressed up its gate in Christmas gear, and how you could watch planes take off -- per my count -- every 57 to 58 seconds from the windows at the end of the terminal 2.

But making friends? Well, in a stretch I could say one. A gray goatteed guy from Fairbanks named Randy, who sat at the bar and talked about how great his town of 35,000 is during winter. When antique snowmobile shows are held in March, dog sled races go down main street. I'd like to see that.

If you go to Sky Harbor's terminal 2, note this:

  • Paradise Bakery & Cafe, immediately past the security checks, has an $8 soup/sandwich deal and is the healthiest choice. I know because a moustached Phoenix police officer told me so.
  • There are no mobile phone charger hubs. But, as one announcement says, 'Free Wifi? Why not? Just what you'd expect from America's friendliest airport.'
  • All Sports Bar, towards the end of the terminal, has $4.40 beers and a $7.50 veggie burger.
  • There is very little to do for five hours.

Meanwhile, I'm glad to have given myself a few free hours in Phoenix to chase down the USA's greatest pyramid in Papago Park, home to my favorite dead governor of all time, George Hunt.