Am I in Heaven or Just Flying Out of Palm Springs?

The Sunsplashed Airport in the Desert Soars Above the Pack—Even in the Pandemic

If you’re heading to heaven, you really should fly out of Palm Springs.

I offer that line not as a jab at the advanced average age of the Coachella Valley’s retiree-heavy population. Rather, it’s a testament to the warmth and wonder I felt while waiting for a recent flight at Palm Springs International Airport.

Pandemic-era air travel in California is typically a miserable combination of unhappy passengers and unreliable service—except in Palm Springs. There, flying still feels like a miracle.

The airport is small, with fewer than two dozen gates, and easy to …