Robert Edward Bump, 49, got onto the taxiway around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and started banging on the engine of a Southwest Airlines plane, Phoenix police spokesman Officer James Holmes said.
No injuries were reported, and Holmes said passengers were never in danger.
Workers in the airport's tower had spotted a man climbing the fence and running onto the tarmac and then the taxiway near Terminal 3 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The pilot was alerted of the man's presence and turned off the engines before he reached the aircraft.
Bump showed signs of drug and alcohol impairment and was booked on a misdemeanor of charge of entering a restricted area at the airport, Holmes said.
It was not immediately clear whether Bump remained in police custody or whether he had a lawyer. Police said Bump is homeless.
Security on the airport's runway system has been breached in the past.
In November 2012, a woman rammed through a partially open gate at the Phoenix airport and drove on the runway with her infant son in the car.
Also, Sky Harbor spent $10 million to upgrade its perimeter security and access gates after a man being chased by police in 2005 crashed a stolen pickup through a gate and drove onto the runways, passing several jets on a taxiway.