The City of Philadelphia officially entered the field of air transportation in 1925 when it provided 125 acres of land (now part of the northeast corner of Philadelphia International Airport) for training aviators of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
In 1926, the City executed an agreement with Ludington Exhibition Company, the forerunner of Eastern Airlines, to operate the facility as the “Municipal Aviation Landing Field.”
October 22, 1927 was an historic day for Philadelphia and its Airport as the Spirit of Saint Louis, piloted by Charles A. Lindbergh, touched down at Philadelphia Airport. The arrival in Philadelphia occurred during a tour of the United States following Lindbergh’s historic solo flight from New York to Paris. During his visit, Lindbergh ceremoniously raised the American flag to dedicate what was then called Philadelphia Municipal Airport.
By this time, the adjoining 1,000-acre Hog Island site, which contained the giant emergency shipbuilding yards of World War I, had become derelict. In 1930, the City purchased Hog Island from the Federal Government for $3 million to provide for Airport expansion.
However, because of the Great Depression, the Airport project lay dormant until 1936. Actual construction of the building and landing field began in 1937, and the Airport was formally opened as Philadelphia Municipal Airport on June 20, 1940.
The four airlines then serving Philadelphia through Central Airport in nearby Camden, NJ (American, Eastern, TWA, and United) terminated their operations at that location.
Approximately 40,000 passengers were transported in the Airport’s first year of operation. The airlines primarily flew two-motor Douglas DC-3 21-passenger planes, including sleepers. During World War II, military security forced the closing of the Airport (1943). Commercial air service was not restored until June 26, 1945, with the dedication of the $3.5 million Northeast Philadelphia Airport.
Later in 1945, Philadelphia Municipal Airport became Philadelphia International Airport when American Overseas Airlines inaugurated transatlantic service at the facility..
Virtually every major means of transportation is found within the borders of the Airport, including railways, waterways, and highways. There are even pipelines for the transmission of oil from ocean vessels docked at the adjoining Delaware River across Airport premises to nearby refineries.
Construction was started in 1950 on a new $15 million terminal building, which was completed and dedicated on December 15, 1953.
In the late 1960s, the City and the airlines based at Philadelphia International Airport began intensive planning for a vast improvement project to meet the challenges of the jet age. Subsequently, the Division of Aviation erected new passenger and airfield facilities to meet the needs of the traveling public. The scheduled airlines were also committed to a massive Airport modernization and development project, which created the present Airport facility.
The keystone of the project, a $22 million all-weather runway (9R-27L), including related high-speed taxiways, was dedicated on December 11, 1972.
The Airport’s $3 million Overseas Terminal opened in April 1973. This facility handled international and charter flights until it was replaced with the new Richardson Dilworth International Terminal A in March 1991.
In the spring of 1977, the $300 million modernization and development of the domestic terminal area was completed, replacing the “central type” terminal with four unit terminals (B, C, D, and E).
1980’sDuring the 1980s, the Airport would see significant improvements with the implementation of a major $695 million capital improvement program. The decade opened with the dedication of a state-of-the-art $6.5 million Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control facility in December 1981.In 1984, 500 ground-level short-term parking spaces were created as a result of the relocation of five car rental agencies to self-contained buildings just north of the parking garages. Work also commenced on an $11 million improvement project to the Airport’s heating and air conditioning system.In 1985, SEPTA inaugurated service on a new rail line connecting the Airport with downtown Philadelphia, and a new cargo facility became operative with construction on a second cargo facility being completed by the end of the decade. A multi-faceted project to greatly improve the flow of traffic on the often-congested arrivals roadway was completed in 1986. The completion of this project doubled the traffic lanes from three to six, separated public and private transportation traffic, created new exits and entrances at two multi-level parking garages and established additional ground-level parking.In the late 1980’s, a $695 million, six-year capital improvement program began that called for construction to begin on a new $100 million international terminal (Terminal A, completed in 1991); the total renovation of Terminals B, C, D and E; reconstruction of all public restrooms; a new 2,800-space multi-level parking garage; and enhanced roadway signs. 1990’sThe newly consolidated Terminal B/C opened in June 1998 featuring a new ticketing pavilion with more than 50 check-in positions; the Philadelphia MarketPlace at the Airport with more than 30 national and local shops and eateries including Lids, The Gap, Sbarro’s, TGI Friday’s and many others; a US Airways Club on the third level overlooking the airfield; and a baggage claim connector with 7 new carousels.On August 2, 1999, Philadelphia International Airport broke ground on new regional and international terminals. Terminal F opened in June 2001 with international Terminal A-West opening in May 2003.On December 3, 1999, the Airport commissioned Runway 8/26. Constructed at a cost of $221 million, this 5,000 foot runway is used for regional and general aviation aircraft.The project also included the erection of two multi-level parking garages, costing $24 million, financed through the issuance of revenue bonds by the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
The beginning of the 21st Century has produced many significant developments in the history of Philadelphia International Airport. Since 2001, the opening of two new terminals has nearly doubled the size of the Airport complex from 1.4 million to 2.4 million square feet and expanded the number of boarding gates by 95% from 55 to 130. Unprecedented demand for air travel, spurred by low-fare competition, has steadily increased passenger traffic to 31.8 million in 2008.
On June 17, 2001, the Airport ushered in a new era of regional airline service with the opening of Terminal F. The $100 million, 185,000 square-foot terminal offers 38 gates for regional and commuter aircraft and was designed to accommodate 6 million passengers a year. A self-contained terminal with the ticketing lobby and baggage claim located at the entrance, Terminal F is composed of three concourses and includes 10,000 square feet of concessions space. It is one of the first facilities in the country to use special jet bridges allowing passengers to transition directly from the terminal to commuter aircraft. Terminal F provides passengers flying on regional aircraft with all the amenities of facilities accommodating larger aircraft.
The Terminal F project was complemented by the construction of a new ramp control tower and a 3,400-space parking garage.
In November 2001, PHL marked the opening of a $17 million, 11-story ramp control tower. Situated between Terminals A-East and B, the tower encompasses more than 7,000 square feet of space and features positions for 21 airline ramp controllers, office space and a center to manage airfield operations. Extending 207 feet above the ground, the tower offers improved sightlines and modern technology to enhance the flow of aircraft movement.
In March 2002, PHL unveiled its state-of-the-art Deicing Facility. Located on 35 acres at the western border of the Airport adjacent to Cargo City, the $53 million facility is capable of simultaneously deicing three large jets and four smaller aircraft. High-tech equipment enables the efficient treatment of aircraft in winter weather conditions and provides for the environmentally safe collection and disposal of deicing fluid runoff.
In May 2003, the $20 million expansion of Concourse D and the Terminal D baggage claim was completed. The concourse phase of the project involved modification of the existing concourse, the construction of new loading bridges and the relocation of three existing gate positions, giving the Airport a net gain of four new gates. The upper level of the terminal features enhanced lighting and roomy public space complete with a 650-seat gate area as well as several concessions occupying 1,667 square feet. The lower level expansion of the D Concourse resulted in additional office space.
The 11,000 square foot expansion of the baggage claim consisted of a new 70-foot long baggage carousel, office space and additional public corridor space.
On May 2, 2003, PHL celebrated the opening of magnificent international Terminal A-West. The $550 million terminal is composed of 800,000 square feet spread over four levels. Combined with Terminal A-East, the international terminal complex accommodates nearly 4 million international passengers annually.
Terminal A-West features 13 international boarding gates, more than 50 Bureau of Customs and Immigration inspection positions, 8 high-speed baggage carousels, 60 ticket counter positions, and a uniquely designed Arrivals Hall dominated by an atrium and stunning artwork conveying Philadelphia’s identity as America’s birthplace.
The Terminal A-West project was complemented by the construction of new Airport entrance ramps from I-95 and 1,500 additional parking spaces.
On September 17, 2003, PHL dedicated its high-tech Aircraft fire Fighting Training Center. The $10 million center, located on the southern boundary of the Airport, enables fire fighters to perform simulation training using the latest technologies. It features a Fuel Spill Trainer and Specialized Aircraft Trainer; a sophisticated computer system that creates a variety of fire scenarios and records performance data; a two-story control and observation building; and classroom facilities.
In May 2004, Southwest Airlines, the nation’s No. 1 low-fare carrier, and low-fare carrier Frontier Airlines began service at PHL. To compete with the low-fare airlines, US Airways, the largest airline in Philadelphia, reduced fares on many routes. The proliferation of competitive airfares has resulted in record numbers of travelers using PHL.
In calendar year 2005, PHL for the first time broke into the top 10 busiest airport rankings when it became the 9th busiest airport in the world with 535,666 aircraft operations.
Philadelphia International Airport ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Large Airports” in J.D. Power and Associates 2008 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.
In December 2008, the new Terminal D/E Connector opened featuring a combined 14-lane security checkpoint equipped with state-of-the-art X-ray screening technology, a dozen new food/beverage and retail shops and permanent artwork. The $300 million project also calls for an additional 23 ticket counter positions in two ticketing lobbies, a fan-shaped extension at the end of Concourse E with three new aircraft gates, a 50,000 square foot baggage makeup area with 8 inline Explosive Detection System machines, and a 9,000 square foot D/E bag claim connector with two new carousels. The project is expected to be completed in 2010.
In 2009, the newly extended Runway 17-35 was dedicated. The $70 million project extended the north-south runway by 1,040 feet to 6,540 feet. The added surface will enable larger jets that account for 75% of aircraft operations at PHL to use the runway, thereby alleviating congestion and delays on the Airport’s two major runways.
In April 2014, Qatar Airways became the first foreign flag carrier in more than a decade to begin service at PHL when it launched daily non-stop service to Doha, Qatar.
The beginning of the 21st Century has produced many significant developments in the history of Philadelphia International Airport. Since 2001, the opening of 2 new terminals and other terminal expansion has more than doubled the size of the Airport terminal complex from 1.4 million to 3.1 million square feet and expanded the number of boarding gates by 94% from 65 to 126. Demand for air travel, spurred by low-fare competition, has increased passenger traffic from 24.9 million in 2000 to 30.2 million in 2012.
The $45 million Terminal E Expansion opened in February 2010. The Expansion features seven new aircraft gates, a 500-seat waiting area, a mini-food court with 3 new concessions, a high bay ceiling filtering in natural lighting and new permanent artwork. The new 9,000 square foot D/E baggage claim with 2 new carousels and new men’s and women’s restrooms also opened in February 2010.
A 10-year planning process and a thorough 7-year environmental review process culminated in January 2011 with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issuing the Record of Decision (ROD) approving the Airport’s Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP). Receipt of this final document enables the Airport to proceed with the next steps required to expand and make critically needed improvements that ensures Philadelphia International Airport is strategically positioned to meet future air service demands, enhance its competitive stature in the global aviation market place and maintain the region’s economic vitality. The preferred alternative as selected by the FAA, “Alternative A,” provides for a new runway, which will allow independent simultaneous aircraft operations in all weather conditions, to significantly reduce delays. The CEP also calls for two (2) runway extensions, one of which will provide the necessary runway length to accommodate non-stop, long haul flights to reach around the world. New terminals, new cargo facilities and an automated people move system are also included in this alternative.
In October 2011, the Airport and the City’s Mural Arts Program officially dedicated the How Philly Moves mural. The mural, which is among the largest created in the United States and occupies the largest square footage of any project completed by the City’s Mural Arts Program, celebrates Philadelphia’s longstanding dance traditions with images 26 dancers representing a variety of dance styles on the façade of the Airport’s parking garages.
In April 2012, Virgin America began serving PHL with daily nonstop flights to the West Coast. Virgin, an award-winning airline noted for its innovative customer service, was the first new airline to start service at PHL in eight years.
In June 2012, Alaska Airlines began serving PHL with daily nonstop flights to its hub in Seattle. Recipient of numerous industry awards for customer service, Alaska was the second new airline to start service at PHL in 2012.
In March 2013, Spirit Airlines began serving PHL with daily flights to Dallas-Fort Worth. In April, Spirit, which touts itself as “THE Ultra Low-Fare Airline” added daily service to Las Vegas and seasonal flights to Myrtle Beach from PHL.
In April 2013, JetBlue began serving PHL with daily flights to Boston. JetBlue is noted for in-flight passenger comforts and unique service that have earned the airline numerous industry awards and a customer-friendly reputation.
In November 2013, the newly redesigned Terminal F Hub opened featuring 20 new food, beverage and retail shops, a 300-seat food court area, fascinating new permanent artwork and an enhanced bus shelter.
While Philadelphia Municipal Airport transported more than 40,000 passengers in 1940, Philadelphia International Airport now serves 30.7 million passengers annually.
The Port Authority and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are dedicated to making your travel experience safe and secure. We ask you to take a moment to become familiar with some important security measures. By reviewing them now, you will save time at the airport.
The key to getting through the airport faster is being prepared. Take these steps in order to minimize time at security checkpoints:
Pack luggage in layers (this increases visibility when baggage is scanned)
Ready your boarding pass and ID
Take off outer garments and shoes
Place any loose metal objects in your carry-on
Remove your laptop from your bag and place it in the bin
Passengers should consider placing additional items in checked baggage since this will ensure a more efficient screening process at TSA screening checkpoints (passengers are reminded that the air carriers request they bring only one carry-on bag and one personal item per person).
Passengers are encouraged to have prescription cards for all medications including syringes. Medications should be in original packaging.
Passengers can also expect additional security procedures to be in place including possible body pat downs.
Passengers should give themselves extra time to check in and proceed through the security checkpoint before their flight, especially during the busy holiday travel season.
Liquids: Keep in mind that liquids are allowed in carry-on luggage only in accordance with the TSA’s 3-1-1 format. Please review this policy .
Prohibited Items: Click here for a list of prohibited items.
Batteries : Click here for more information if you’re traveling with battery-powered equipment.
Food/Gifts : Click here for more information. There are some exceptions to these policies for customers with disabilities and medical conditions.
Visa/Passport Information : Visit the Department of Homeland Security Web site here for more information.
Passengers with questions may contact the Transportation Security Administration Coordination Center at (866) 289-9673. Click here to visit the TSA Web site .
State gun laws vary considerably. Before possessing and carrying firearms into New York or New Jersey, please be aware of local state gun control laws. Please check with New York State Police or New Jersey State Police prior to possessing and carrying a weapon into New York or New Jersey.
TRAVELING WITH PETS
When traveling with pets, pets should remain in their carriers at all times except for service animals. The Port Authority of NY and NJ and our airport partners have provided pet relief areas for customers. These areas are located in the arrivals area of each terminal. Follow the signs in the baggage claim areas or ask a Customer Care Representative for information.
Owners can take their animals to these pet relief areas and allow the pets to relieve themselves. Owners are expected to clean up after their animals with the materials provided in the pet relief areas. Pet owners whose animals have an accident elsewhere in the terminal are expected to clean up after their animals and notify a member of the cleaning crew.
There are no pet relief areas beyond security checkpoints in any of the terminals at the Port Authority airports.
As policies relating to the transportation of pets vary by airline and time of year, we suggest you contact your airlines directly for details.
TRUSTED TRAVELER PROGRAMS
U.S. Customs and Border Protection offers expedited travel for pre-approved, low risk travelers who qualify. For information on CBP’s Global Entry Program,click here .
For more information visit: Transportation Security Agency (TSA) , Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) .
Air Canada (888) 247-2262
Alaska Airlines (800) 682-2221
American Airlines(800) 433-7300
American Eagle (800) 433-7300
British Airways (800) Airways
Delta Air Lines(800) 221-1212
Frontier Airlines (800) 432-1359
JetBlue Airways1-800-JETBLUE (1-800-538-2583)
Lufthansa (800) 645-3880
Qatar Airways (877) 777-2827
Southwest Airlines (800) 435-9192
Spirit Airlines (801) 401-2200
United (800) 864-8331
Fixed Base Operators
Atlantic Aviation (215) 492-7060
Airport Guide Home
Shops, Restaurants, Services
Reservations for private car services can be made at the Port Authority Welcome Center located on the Arrivals level of each terminal. If the center is closed, there is a convenient self-service kiosk nearby where you can contact authorized private car services.
BETWEEN EWR AND MANHATTAN
Dial 7 Car & Limo Service
(800) 222- 9888
BETWEEN EWR AND WESTCHESTER, CONNECTICUT, PENNYSLVANIA
Dave’s Best Limousine
Dial 7 Car & Limo Service
BETWEEN EWR AND NEY JERSEY
Dial 7 Car & Limo Service
BETWEEN EWR AND QUEENS, BROOKLYN, BRONX, STATEN ISLAND
Dial 7 Car & Limousine Service
BETWEEN EWR AND LONG ISLAND
Dial 7 Car & Limo Service
BETWEEN EWR AND UPSTATE NEW YORK
Dial 7 Car & Limo Service
SAFETY TIP: Ignore offers of transportation from solicitors in the terminal. Soliciting of ground transportation is illegal and many illegal solicitors are unlicensed and uninsured. To obtain ground transportation information, please visit the Port Authority Welcome Center located in the arrivals area of each terminal, where uniformed staff will be happy to assist you. Ignore non-uniformed people offering to assist with baggage. Seek out uniformed porters or airline employees for baggage assistance.