The new SLC International Airport is a destination in its own right

By Travel Tips and Deals Mar 15, 2024
Airports are typically a place to endure enroute to our destination, but Salt Lake City International has flipped that on its head.
The new SLC International Airport is a destination in its own right

Salt Lake City International Airport has undergone major changes recently. By major I mean full reconstruction making it the first newly constructed airport built in the U.S. in the 21st Century and the technology, sustainability, and conveniences are unparalleled.

Airports are typically a place to endure en route to our destination, but Salt Lake City International has flipped that on its head. Over the last several years this airport has become a place to enjoy while passing through.

What does this mean? If you need to charge a device…there’s a plug at every seat. Want good food at a reasonable price? The concessions are filled with local restaurants charging “street prices” meaning the same price you would pay outside of the airport! Have time to kill? The shops are local brands with goods you will actually want to buy. Add the on-site car rentals, dedicated ski/golf and large item luggage carousels, and you have the recipe for a smooth arrival and departure.


A reflection of Utah’s culture and beauty

The new Salt Lake City airport features a calm vibe with Utah-inspired art and décor. Most prominent is The Canyon art installation lining the walls for roughly the length of a football field designed by Gordon Huether. It echoes the feel of a Utah slot canyon and is enhanced by color-shifting lights. The same artist also designed The Falls situated over the main escalators plus the soon-to-be-completed The River Tunnel. Insider’s tip…not all the artwork in the airport is immediately obvious, don’t miss the Whimsy Walls created by 18 local artists located in each of the airport’s bathrooms. Learn more about the airport’s artwork HERE.

River Tunnel Renderjpg

The Process

If you’ve visited in recent years, you may have noticed changes, but little disruption. This is because the reconstruction has been phased to maintain services while rebuilding. Following a groundbreaking in 2014, Phase 1 opened in 2020 with a new terminal, Concourses A and B, parking garage, and the gateway center. Phase 2 added more gates to Concourse A East in 2023.

Coming in 2024, Phase 3 includes The Central Tunnel—connecting A and B Concourses—with people movers and a unique art installation called The River Tunnel, by Artist Gordon Huether. Additionally, there will be a mini plaza and five new gates on B Concourse plus 12 new concessions including some local favorites such as Cotopaxi, Sunday’s Best, Freddy’s Steakburger and more.

Phase 4 will bring another 16 gates to Concourse B.


Why rebuild?

The old airport was designed to serve roughly 10 million passengers per year; however, traffic grew to over 26 million by the time reconstruction began. Additionally, the building needed critical seismic upgrades and a wider gate/concourse layout to accommodate today’s larger aircraft.

The new airport is built to comfortably handle 34 million passengers and their luggage while meeting modern construction standards for seismic safety, efficiency, and sustainability.

Courtesy HOK 2jpg

Cool facts

  • SLC is Delta Air Lines' 4th largest hub meaning travelers have more flight options.
  • Passengers are never more than 150 feet away from the next restroom facility.
  • Now SLC is the first U.S. airport to have automated inspection of large checked items, which are more than 50" long, 34" wide and 30" high. This speeds up luggage screening significantly.
  • Non-stop flights are available from SLC to 91 destinations including Amsterdam, London, and Paris.
  • The tunnel between concourses was built in 2004 while the airport had federal funding available and then was sealed shut until reconstruction. Yes, they had enough foresight to know it would be needed and it made the construction process much smoother to have that piece already done!

When planning your next trip through Salt Lake City, allow for some extra time at the airport to take in the art, grab a meal, and shop local retailers, because this airport has become its own destination.

This post is sponsored by Salt Lake City International Airport