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Portland International Airport Tips (11)


The international airport - PDX - is an easy one to navigate. Portland is a destination point and only serves as a hub for local flights, so you don't have too many people running around from one flight to the next. There are lots of food and drink options here - much better in my opinion than some of the huge hubs like Chicago, Dallas and Houston. Microbrews abound and you can even fill a growler. Getting to and from the airport for those without cars is very easy - just take MAX the light rail option which runs right to the southeast end of the airport. From here, you can go right downtown for $2.50, couldn't be easier. The only problem with this option is for those coming in or going out early in the morning or late - the make sure you check with the MAX website for times.

mtncorg's Profile Photo
Sep 15, 2015

An Improved Airport Experience

For those that haven't been to the Portland airport in a while, you should know that the airport has been improved a bit over the years. It wasn't that long ago the place was one of those horrid ugly utilitarian concrete octopus structures that was horribly unappealing.

From the outside the structure is still the horrid unappealing nature that these places always have, but the inside has been made much better. Skylights have been added, for one. Various artwork scattered through the airport lend a more personal and regional touch to the place, and sometimes the artworks in some of the areas is changed out to provide some variety.

There are an assortment of stores and restaurants here, both on the air side of things and on the non-secure side of things. Some of them are the expected travel marts. Powell's Books (a local bookstore that is pretty popular and famous) and the Made in Oregon store are probably the most unique in terms of what they offer.

Most of the stores in the airport offer their items at the same inflated price as everyone else - it isn't exactly price fixing but it is close. However, if you go into concourse A you will find that there is a small food and magazine store about halfway down the ramp which usually has prices that are somewhat better on things like bottled water. This is because Concourse A has much less traffic than B and C and what traffic there is tends to be shorter distance flights. Thus, the traffic in overpriced goods and snacks is quite a bit less.

There are two security lines at Portland Airport: one for concourse A and B, and one for C, D and E. These two areas are connected by a walkway along the west side of the airport main terminal building, so if you happen to notice that one is vastly less crowded than the other use that one and use the walkway to get to the other concourse. Most people still do not realize that this walkway exists, even though it has been here for quite a while. Sometimes security can be pretty backed up at one set of lines and not busy at all at the other end, so this could be a significant advantage.

Flights to Seattle on Horizon Air and Alaska Airlines and a few other locations have their own separate line. Even if you are going to a different city after changing planes in Seattle you still qualify to use this express line, which is also reserved for crew and certain other passengers. Watch for the signs at the start of the security lines that point Seattle passengers into a separate line.

Certain flights, such as certain Horizon Air, Alaska Air, Air Canada, and a few others use planes that are too small for the main terminals. Those flights use concourse A and E, which drop down to ground level and boarding must take place via a staircase. These can board fairly quickly sometimes as they board from both the front and rear of the plane using two staircases. If the weather is cold or rainy you should be prepared to be out in it for the brief walk to the plane from the terminal.

Short term parking is in a large parking garage across the airport entrance driveway from the main terminal. It is not a place that accommodates large vehicles due to the very tight spiral ramps that go between levels. Take a look at these before you enter if you have a question about if you can fit or not. The short term parking lot also has indicator lights in it which turn green when a spot is occupied and red when the spot is taken. This helps people find empty parking places when the lot is full.

The airport is connected to downtown Portland by way of the MAX red line trains, which operate reasonably frequently but currently end service slightly after 11:45 at night. The access to the trains is on the south side of the main terminal building, and may be accessed through the baggage claim level or the ticket desk level. From the arriving concourses turn right at the ticket desk area, go south past the Alaska Airlines ticket counter all the way to the end of the upper floor, and take the stairs or escelator down to ground level. Tickets must be purchased before boarding the train. The current ticket price is $2.50 for two hours anywhere on TriMet's trains or buses, and $5 for a day ticket. The ticket machines do not sell unvalidated tickets any more. The baggage claim entrance to the MAX station is one floor below the ticket desk level entrance.

The web site for the airport is reasonably good and features a reasonably good map of the airport and a list of all its features and some of the future plans.

glabah's Profile Photo
May 30, 2013

PDX (Portland International Airport)

From the airport to downtown Portland, it takes only 38 minutes and costs $2.05.

The MAX Red Line light rail starts from just beside the baggage claim area and leaves about every 10-15 minutes from 5 AM until midnight. You can also ride this same light rail line to Beaverton for the same fare.

etfromnc's Profile Photo
Jun 16, 2011

Portland Int'l Airport

Just wanted to give a tip to the traveler who is coming to, leaving ot going through the Portland Airport.
While I do think this is one of the better airports to get around, you will be walking a bit.
But for the tired person who is worried about grabbing something to eat - there is no shortage of places to sit down and dine, grab a snack, magazine and tons of coffee spots.
One of the better airports to pass time in, and you only need to be here an hour early unlike some of the other airports in the US. (Unless you park long term - add 20-30 minutes more).

Shaft28's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011
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Carry your Frequent Flyer card or fly 1st class

At the Portland International Airport (PDX), be sure when you approach the security area to look for a line to show either your 1st class or Frequent Flyer (yes, Frequent flyer) card and you can avoid any long lines.

I had never seen this before and after waiting 20 minutes to reach the entrance to the security line, I both heard and saw this method being used. Had I known that 20 minutes earlier, I could have been at the gate reading a newspaper or something instead of standing in line.

TheTravelSlut's Profile Photo
Nov 26, 2007


Arriving into Portland's airport is so easy and efficient, it happens to be one of my favorite airports to navigate. Easily accessible to the city center by the lightrail system (MAX).

I'll note that for the traveler who is usually late or in a rush, this is one of the best airports regarding the security lines. We have breezed threw with no more than 20 people on any given time waiting for the security check. There is a really great restaurant (with happy hour) and your usual gift shops.

Gypsystravels's Profile Photo
Sep 11, 2006


The airport is connected to the lightrail system (MAX) and has cheap rental cars. It is a very good airport for the Mileage Runner as well as the general traveler. Security lines here in my experience do not exist. Never have I waited more than 5 minutes to go through security. There are a couple good restaurants. Cheap coffee and the bathrooms are fairly clean.

cjg1's Profile Photo
Sep 11, 2006

The Most Scenic Approach...

Wow, if you want to see mountains, just fly into Portland. 99% of the time you approach from the east down the Columbia River Gorge. As you descend, you are eye ball to eye ball with the summits of Mt. Adams on the right, and Mt. Hood on the left. You might also be able to see the remnants of Mt. St. Helens on the right plus a distant view of Mt. Ranier near Seattle.
Taking off from Portland you might swing around over Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams with Mt. Hood on right. I don't know of any other airport with this much scenery. Also, if you look closely on the approach you can seen the many extinct volcanoes to the south; Mt. Washington and Jefferson plus the Three Sisters near Bend. Of course this surmises you will be arriving on a clear day. As you may be aware we do have a bit of rain, clouds and fogs around here, so count your blessings if you get a good view.
Also, once inside the terminal you will find a nice, peaceful setting, with shops, and restaurants. The setting is less hectic than in larger airports. Security lines are usually short and the workers are usually friendly.
Parking is the usual at most airports. Short term is in a structure next to the terminal. Long term is next door plus the economy lot is accessable by shuttle bus. Interstate I-205 is the best way to access the airport, however, you can also take Max from the 102nd St. station, or access from Sandy Blvd.

birchy99's Profile Photo
Sep 25, 2005

Top 5 Portland Writers

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"Nearest Big City"
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mtncorg's Profile Photo


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Shaft28's Profile Photo


"Portland, an great liveable city"
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"The Pearl of the Pacific Northwest"
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"If it's tourist season, can we shoot them?"
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Portland has a major airport (PDX) that is in North Portland, the industrial section of town, bordered by the Columbia River. You can get there by car and MAX (the red line light rail train).

PDX nearly lost its international status. But you can now fly to Germany on Lufthansa, Northwest Airlines flies nonstop to Tokyo and Mexicana will take you to Guadalajara. Other international travel may force you to go through one of the other major airports, such as SFO or LAX, say, if you're headed to the South Pacific.

You can also fly direct to Hawaii. Check the web site's non stop search page to see what carriers fly in to PDX direct:
You can also check arrival and departure times at the web site:

Jet Blue is new to PDX and flies to New York. United, Alaska and Southwest airlines are all good ways to get around the west coast. There are also airlines that will take you on shorter flights around the state to Eugene or Klamath Falls.

TashieKitten's Profile Photo
Jun 30, 2005

Portland International Airport (PDX)

If you are flying into Portland, you will be landing a little south of the city at Portland's International Airport. It is a hub for Alaska Airlines, as well as serving Air Canada, America West, American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and Northwest. Internationally, it also serves Mexicana, Lufthansa, United and also goes to Hawaii.

It is located about 30 minutes south of downtown, so make sure you have made arrangements to rent a car, take a taxi, or hitch a ride into Portland!

ATXtraveler's Profile Photo
Jul 11, 2004

Portland International Airport

Located along the banks of the Columbia River, Portland International Airport has flights to most major U.S. and Canadian cities.

Easty's Profile Photo
Jun 09, 2003

Things To Do in Portland

Things to do

Powell's City of Books

While Super Stores are not a big favorite of mine and you might guess would not be popular in an alternative kind of town like Portland, Powell's City of Books is a mega store with a grass roots...
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Things to do

Pioneer Courthouse Square

This is probably considered the center point of Downtown Portland. There is an information center located here along with public restrooms. A large open space with lots of people hanging out, having...
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Things to do

Columbia River Gorge

With several dozen incorporated cities, dozens of smaller towns, several dozen state parks in Oregon and Washington, and great gobs of land owned by the National Forest Service, the Columbia River...
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Things to do

Portland City Hall

Merrill Auditorium is the historic auditorium at Portland City Hall. It's home to the Portland Symphony Orchestra and PCA Great Performances. The performance schedule is a little light in the summer...
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Things to do

Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum was founded in 1892, which makes it the oldest art museum on the West Coast. Although its collection was rather small at first, the museum soon gained popularity thanks to the...
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Things to do

Steel Bridge

Built in 1912, the Union Pacific Railroad owns this bridge - the upper deck is leased to ODOT and part is also subleased by TriMet for MAX light-rail operation. This is, like the Hawthorne Bridge, a...
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Getting to Portland


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