By Jennifer DeCamp

Covering about 840 square miles, Jacksonville may be the largest city in Florida by land mass but it has a laidback vibe that matches its tagline: “Jax: It’s Easier Here.”

This relaxed lifestyle also translates to travel through Jacksonville International Airport, which has a compact design that flows through a central courtyard before sending guests to its terminal.

The terminal has two concourses, each of which is outfitted with a moving walkway. Construction on a third concourse is set to be completed by 2025. JAX, which is located only 15 minutes from downtown, serves about 6.5 million passengers a year and has nonstop service to 39 airports during the busiest part of the travel season.

“Jacksonville International Airport is the gateway to our community,” said Greg Willis, Marketing and Public Relations Manager for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. “It is the first and last impression people have of our region and we want to make sure that everyone who flies through our terminal has a good experience.”

Although each concourse in Jacksonville International Airport only has 10 gates, they each have a moving walkway to make mobility easier.

Planning Ahead

The first step in planning a trip to and through Jacksonville International Airport begins with the airline upon booking. Calling, e-mailing or sending a direct message via the airline’s social media account will be the quickest and easiest way to ensure the arrival process at JAX is smooth, starting with being met at the gate with a contracted customer care representative if needed.

JAX’s compact layout means that the distance traveled from the furthest gate at each concourse to the airport’s exit is minimal and easy to navigate for both newcomers or experienced travelers. Although each concourse only has 10 gates, they each have a moving walkway to make mobility easier. Both concourses feed into the airport’s main courtyard and from there it’s a short jaunt to the escalators or elevators leading downstairs to Baggage Claim.

Journey from Plane to Vehicle

Once inside the main courtyard, passengers have two options:

  • If passengers need to retrieve checked luggage, they head down to Baggage Claim on Level 1 via elevator or escalator, following signage to the correct baggage carousel, which will be clearly marked with the coordinating airline names and then flight numbers. There are only eight carousels, four to the left and four to right. After retrieving luggage, the outdoor pick-up curbs are less than 50 feet from the baggage carousels.
  • If passengers need a rental vehicle, the rental car counters are conveniently located directly across from the baggage carousels. Passengers traveling with more than one person in their party can easily split duties, with one person watching the baggage carousel and another member of the party handling the rental car check-in process.

Most of the seven rental car companies that operate at JAX offer vehicles equipped with hand controls with advanced notice, and the airport partners with zTrip, which has a fleet of vehicles with wheelchair lifts upon request. Guests will pick up their rental cars in the connecting parking garage located on the other side of the car and ride shuttle pick-up curbs.

The airport also has contracts with Uber and Lyft, both of which have drivers capable of accommodating all types of disabilities. The local public bus transit service, JTA, has buses that accommodate wheelchairs; service dogs are also allowed on all buses.

At Jacksonville International Airport, all passenger traffic travels through a central courtyard that’s furnished with rocking chairs and wide, cushioned bench seating.

Inside the Airport

A trip through Jacksonville International Airport keeps distance traveled to a minimum. All passenger traffic travels through a central courtyard that’s furnished with rocking chairs and wide, cushioned bench seating for guests needing a relaxing break before heading through the TSA screening checkpoint. During high traffic times, there’s usually live, local musicians to further enhance the experience. Once guests pass through security, they’ll only travel a maximum of 600 steps to reach the furthest gate in Terminals A or C.

That said, there are several stops that may happen once a passenger walks through the front doors, particularly for those with any range of disabilities.

RESTROOMS: JAX has spacious restrooms located on each end of both concourses, conveniently positioned in close proximity to all gates, and all have at least one wheelchair-accessible stall. There are also restrooms located on each level of the central entrance and exit points of the airport. There are larger bathrooms near the Ticketing area that all guests will pass by as they head to the Security Checkpoint. The Baggage Claim and Rental Car Area has a smaller bathroom located near the information desk. Family restrooms, or companion restrooms, are located at Baggage Claim and on both concourses. Accessible drinking fountains are adjacent to all restrooms.

Jacksonville International Airport's indoor pet relief area includes  astroturf flooring that’s designed to look like an outdoor space and includes a view of the airfield, white picket fence and faux fire hydrant.

SERVICE ANIMALS: Recognizing that service dogs need relief either before or after a long flight, JAX has two pet relief areas. The indoor pet relief area is located near the Security Checkpoint between both concourses and includes an astroturf flooring that’s designed to look like an outdoor space and includes a view of the airfield, white picket fence and faux fire hydrant. It has a state-of-the-art drainage system that cleans under the floor every 45 minutes. The area also includes a bench, rocking chairs, dog waste bag station and a hand-washing area for the human companions. The outdoor pet relief area is located outside Baggage Claim near Baggage Carousel 8. Dog waste bags are provided.

QUIET SPACES: JAX has a Meditation Room designated for guests requiring low levels of stimulation or those in need of quiet time located between ticketing and the main courtyard. The room has six tables and two chairs. The airport also has a small, L-shaped Art Gallery located near the courtyard. The gallery’s collection, which highlights the work of local artists, changes frequently and can provide a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of people moving toward and from the main terminal. Another quiet location is the Sky Gallery, which features regional neighborhoods and attractions.

Travelers who enter the terminal area, or those on connecting flights who need some R&R, can book an Escape Pod at the entrance of Concourse C. The terminal has three pods that can be reserved from as little as 15 minutes or up to two hours. Reservations range from $10 - $60 and can be made months in advance. Each escape pod has private and secure Wi-Fi, a table, USB charging station and the ability to control the pod’s temperature, brightness and the color of the light.

The Return Trip

Passengers returning to JAX for their flights home tend to spend more time in the airport, often using more of the amenities before reaching their gate. The Rental Car Return area is conveniently located in the parking garage directly across from Baggage Claim on the airport’s lower level. The garage has a wide, centrally located walkway that extends to the main doors of Baggage Claim and then to escalators and elevators that lead up to the Ticketing Area on the second floor. Guests who do not need to check bags and have e-tickets will be able to proceed directly to the TSA Screening Area.

People who need special accommodations at the TSA Screening Area should contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours in advance if possible.

Guests needing solace, comfort or stress relief can be on the lookout for JAXPaws Canine Interaction volunteers. These volunteer human and canine companion teams wear blue vests with the JAXPaws logo to distinguish them from security dog teams. Airport passengers and employees are encouraged to interact with them when they’re seen walking throughout the terminal. The program which has operated in the airport for five years, has 12 human and canine teams and sends about three teams out each week. Each dog and handler must go through a rigorous licensing and training process.

“The responses we receive are heartwarming,” said Anne Bell, JAXPaws coordinator. The volunteers hear everything from, “This made my day to I really needed this because I’m anxious about flying. We have airport employees who go out of their way to pet one of our dogs.”

For more information about Jacksonville International Airport, visit:

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Places to Remember