Thanksgiving Travel Tips to Get You Through TUS


Almost 150,000 passengers are expected to go through Tucson International Airport in the 11 days surrounding Thanksgiving this year. That works out to about 35% more per day than the average.

If you’re flying out – or have friends and family flying in – here are some tips to help you navigate the airport and, hopefully, make the journey go a little smoother.

Busiest Days

As a point of reference, about 9,725 passengers go through TUS on an average day, which means that during this holiday period every day except Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, should have more passengers than normal. Based on airline schedules, the five busiest days from November 15-26 this year, ranked by number of available departing seats, are expected to be:

  1. Wednesday, November 21 – 14,925 seats (+54% more than average)
  2. Sunday, November 25 – 14,838 seats (+53%)
  3. Monday, November 26 – 14,780 seats (+52%)
  4. Friday, November 16 – 14,551 seats (+50%)
  5. Saturday, November 24 – 14,441 seats (+48%)

Least Busy Days

The least busy days are expected to be:

  1. Thursday, November 22 –  9,604 seats (-1% below the normal daily average)
  2. Friday, November 23 – 10,096 seats (+4% more than average)
  3. Saturday, November 17 – 13,041 seats (+34%)
  4. Sunday, November 18 – 13,273 seats (+36%)
  5. Thursday, November 15 – 13,913 seats (+43%)

No matter what day you’re traveling, be prepared. Even if Thanksgiving Day is scheduled to be the slowest day of the holiday stretch, you should know that the last departing flight of the day from TUS scheduled for just after 2 p.m. That means everyone flying out of Tucson that day will be going through the airport in the morning and early afternoon so it will still be busy. Then, of course, there’s always the unknown that could be caused by delays.

New Airlines at TUS

TUS has three new airlines that weren’t at the airport a year ago.

  • Allegiant – flies to Bellingham (Vancouver) and Provo. Check-in counter is on the east side of the ticketing level. Flights depart from Gate A2.
  • Frontier Airlines – flies to Denver. Check-in counter is on the east side of the ticketing level. Flights depart from Gate A1.
  • Via Air – flies to Austin. Check-in counter is on the east side of the ticketing level. Flights depart from Gate A1.

All three airlines are known for offering ultra low fares and to keep costs low they have some strict policies, especially when it comes to checking in for a flight. All three open their check-in counters 2 hours ahead of scheduled flight time and close them before the flight. Anyone not checked in by the time the counter closes will not be accommodated on that day’s flight so it’s important to be at the airport early. Allegiant and Frontier close their check-in counters 45 minutes ahead of flight time and Via Air closes its counter 30 minutes ahead of flight time.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!