Sky Harbor voted best airport for shopping, seeks new ways to enhance travelers’ experience

Phoenix Sky Harbor was named the ‘Best Airport for Shopping’ in USA Today’s 10Best Travel Contest, and now America’s Friendliest Airport is seeking bids on six concession spaces.

“Sky Harbor wants to cater to all travelers,” said Public Information Manager for the City of Phoenix Aviation Department Heather Lissner. “With limited space on our concourses, we are looking to bring more variety to all of our passengers by offering new and innovative services. Sky Harbor is always looking for ways to improve the passenger experience.”

Some of these new experiences will include automated markets and small footprint stores.

In March, airport staff will propose to solicit at least one automated market in Terminal 4 along with several small footprint and automated retail locations in Terminals 3 and 4 to the Aviation and Transportation Subcommittee.

Automated retail is the definition of self-service with standalone kiosks that operate as unmanned stores. Amazon is on the forefront of this trend with multiple Amazon Go shops across the country and in December the e-commerce giant told Reuters it wanted to bring its checkout-free store format to airports.

According to Lissner, Sky Harbor is looking to offer the service in both Terminals 3 and 4 in order to cater to travelers that want to quickly make purchases with credit cards, but no company has been selected yet.

Similarly, small footprint stores are owned by bigger retailers but take up less space allowing the company to hire fewer workers and fit into fast-growing urban areas. These stores will make it easier for Sky Harbor to offer new amenities, Lissner said.

According to Sky Harbor, the airport brought in 35 new retail locations to Terminal 4 in 2018.

“Sky Harbor is a world-class airport, largely in part to its exceptional retail options,” Councilwoman Felicita Mendoza, who represents the district where Sky Harbor is located, said. “We provide our travelers with a unique retail experience, offering both national and local brands. Phoenix is honored to be named the ‘Best Airport for Shopping’.”

In 2018, the airport also added two post-security spa locations, a US Careways Urgent Care, a medical clinic with a doctor on staff, and a drug store. Now, it is looking to enhance the traveling experience by adding Sleep Suites.

Travelers want to have an opportunity for a quiet space to work or rest. Sleep Suites is an option that will provide travelers with this type of service,” Lissner said. “It will provide a private, relaxing and quiet amenity where travelers can work, nap or shower.”  

Sleep Suites – also known as capsules, pods, cubicles, or cabs – are areas that provide travelers a space to work, sleep, or shower in a private quiet area. Some even come with high-def TVs and staffers who make wake-up calls and are rented by the hour.

If approved by the city council, the airport hopes to complete the bidding process by the end of 2019.

The sleep suites may appeal to the business traveler looking for a quiet space for a couple of hours to get work done…. Our goal with our overall concessions program is to showcase what our region has to offer…. It’s important for Phoenix Sky Harbor to continue to offer quality and unique shops, restaurants, and services,” Lissner said.

Emily Richardson

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