SLC Airport is for Skiers

By Yeti Feb 15, 2024
How Salt Lake City International Airport was made to serve skiers and snowboarders.
SLC Airport is for Skiers

words by Melissa Fields

Incomparably light and abundant annual snowfall, and the unmatched proximity of its mountain resorts to both one another and Salt Lake City are a couple of the more well-known reasons why Utah is a standout North American winter destination. Another advantage to skiing or riding Utah—one that may not necessarily be the fodder of magazine stories or social media campaigns but, nonetheless, has the power to make or break a vacation—is Salt Lake City International Airport.


Before you scratch your head and ask yourself, ‘How on earth can an airport make a difference in my upcoming ski vacation?’ consider this: in September 2020, the Salt Lake City Airport Authority cut the ribbon on a brand new central terminal building at the Salt Lake City International Airport, known now as the New SLC. No stone was left unturned in designing this LEED Gold-certified terminal, from how natural light flows through its hallways and TSA security checkpoint efficiency to its food and beverage mix and the size of bathroom stalls. But an area New SLC designers paid particular attention to was how the new airport would function for travelers coming to Utah to hit the slopes.

Take, for example, the New SLC’s baggage handling system. All seven miles of the system’s transport conveyors are made up of extra-large, 45-inch-wide belts with large-radius turns. This means that not only are oversized items like skis and snowboards moved more easily and quickly through the plane unloading process, but all checked luggage is delivered to the same baggage claim pickup carousels, versus the airport’s previous system where large items were relegated to a separate pickup zone.


Do you prefer to fly nonstop to your destination? Is there really anybody who doesn’t? Ninety-one of the 288 average daily arrivals at SLC are nonstop flights from cities across the U.S. including Atlanta, Boston, New York, Detroit, Denver, Orlando, Seattle and Washington D.C., to name just a few. Thirteen airlines service SLC including the airport’s hub carrier, Delta Air Lines, which claims 70 percent of the airport’s total traffic and operates a huge Sky Lounge on the airport’s Concourse A. Delta is so smitten on SLC, in fact, that a second Sky Lounge is slated to open on the airport’s B Concourse when it is completed in 2027.

You may be wondering if, with all the snow Utah receives, how dependable is an on-time arrival into SLC? In a word, very. Thanks in part to the airport’s award-winning snow and ice removal efforts, SLC boasts a stellar on-time arrival and departure record. In fact, it was the third-ranked large airport in J.D. Power’s 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, an annual traveler survey that heavily weights passengers’ views on departure and arrival efficiency.


As many travelers know, finding a tasty, high quality and affordable meal at an airport can be challenging, to say the least. Not so at the New SLC. There you’ll find a slew of beloved and excellent Utah-based eateries including White Horse Spirits & Kitchen, Wasatch Brew Pub, Beans & Brews, Hugo Coffee, Vessel Kitchen, Market Street Grill and Rooster’s Brewing. The airport’s national restaurant chain tenants include Burger King, Jimmy John’s, Panda Express, Panera Bread (the only location in Utah), Shake Shack and Smash Burger. And because of how busy SLC Airport is—it serves 26 million passengers annually—many of its food and beverage vendors open early and stay open late. Best yet, each of these vendors are required to offer street pricing, meaning that the inflated pricing you’ll find at other airports does not exist within the New SLC.

We’re happy to report that the options for ground transportation between the airport and Utah’s ski and snowboard resorts (10 of which are within an hour’s drive) are both plentiful and dependable. Uber, Lyft, hotel shuttles, taxis and limousines all service the New SLC on the regular. (A complete list of airport-servicing transportation companies, with contact info, can be found here.) Three transportation companies that maintain counter service within the airport’s baggage claim area are Alta Shuttle/Canyon Express, Canyon Transportation and Express Shuttle. Just outside of the terminal’s baggage claim area is a Utah Transit Authority TRAX station, which connects to the city’s extensive bus system, including the Ski Bus that services the mountain resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons and outside of Ogden. If you do choose to drive, nine rental car agencies operate out of the airport’s Gateway Center, located adjacent to the parking garage and reached after a five-minute walk from the baggage claim area. Six more off-site rental car companies offer shuttle service to and from the airport. Before getting behind the wheel, be sure to familiarize yourself with Utah winter driving conditions and requirements.

It’s no secret that airports are a necessary part of most snow sliding getaways. But rather than detracting from your precious vacation time, the SLC Airport provides an efficient and enjoyable start and end to a fabulous winter getaway in Utah.