TUS Prepares For July 4th Holiday Travelers 

Travelers planning to fly away from the desert heat over the July 4th weekend will find a changed travel experience at Tucson International Airport (TUS) as a result of COVID-19 health safety measures, combined with what are anticipated to be the most passengers since the pandemic took hold in March.

The Independence Day holiday has often set records for air travel. That’s not going to happen this year, based on airline schedules. Although the number of passengers has been increasing in recent weeks,  TUS is expecting to see slightly more than one-third the passengers who traveled over the holiday last year.

“Only in this environment would we be encouraged to see one-third of the passengers we had last year, but that is about 10 percentage points above the national average,” said Danette Bewley, President and CEO of the Tucson Airport Authority. “We are especially thankful for the confidence and support coming from our returning passengers in Southern Arizona.”

TUS has also benefitted from the return of flights that had been suspended in the early stages of the pandemic. In early June, Allegiant launched new nonstop flights to Las Vegas and resumed its flights to Provo. American Airlines has added more flights to Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth and on July 7 will resume flying to Los Angeles. Delta has increased its flights to Salt Lake City and this week will resume its flights to Atlanta. Frontier Airlines this summer is keeping its weekly ultra-low fare flights to Denver. Southwest this month has added flights to both Denver and Las Vegas and this week resumed flights to Los Angeles.

If you are planning a trip for the holiday – or anytime this summer – this is a checklist that includes changes to what you can expect at TUS. Just know changes are continuing to be made. You can keep up with the latest on our Fly Tucson website: https://www.flytucson.com/when-you-are-ready-to-fly-we-are-here-for-you/

Before Leaving for TUS

  • Check-in for your flight online or using your airline’s app. Have your boarding pass on your mobile device or print it to bring to the airport. (It is still possible to check in at the airport, if necessary.)
  • If you are sick with a cough or fever, do not come to the airport. Contact your airline to change your flight.
  • Passengers of Alaska, Allegiant, Frontier and United airlines will be asked to complete a health status questionnaire.
  • Bring face coverings for everyone in your group who is at least 2-years-old. (Airlines and the TAA have supplies of face coverings for those who need one. Face masks are also for sale at the Arroyo Trading Post, pre-security on the ticketing level of the terminal.)
  • It is also a good idea to bring your own disinfectant wipes and your own instant hand sanitizer. The TSA is currently allowing carry-on hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces but they must be removed from bags and screened separately.
  • If you are going to bring food, place it in a clear plastic bag. You will put it in a bin to be screened separately when going through TSA security.

Arriving at TUS

  • Plan to arrive at TUS at least 90 minutes ahead of your scheduled flight. Safe social distancing in queues is adding time to the security screening process. If you need assistance or have concerns about navigating the new changes, allow extra time.
  • Parking: The TAA has five parking venues, including three that are walking distance to the terminal; the Daily lot and Garage ($10 per day) and the Hourly lot ($13 per day). The Economy lot ($4.50 per day) and Economy Covered lot ($6 per day) are both on Corona Road just east of the main entrance to TUS and have 24-hour complimentary shuttle service to and from the terminal. The shuttles have implemented changes to boarding and seating to help facilitate social distancing.
  • Parking customers who want to limit contact might consider using TAA’s new parking reservations system. Customers can make a reservation and pay for it online and receive a pass for touchless entry and exit. Make reservations on the airport’s parking page here: https://www.flytucson.com/transportation/parking/ to limit contact by reserving and paying for a space in advance. There is a $2 fee to make a reservation.
  • Curbside bag check: Southwest Airlines is currently the only airline at TUS offering this service. All other airlines require bags to be checked at the ticket counter inside the terminal.
  • Taxis, Uber, Lyft, other car services and shuttles continue to drop off departing passengers at curbside on the ticketing level.

Entering the TUS Terminal

  • Face Coverings: Are required to be worn over the nose and mouth in the TUS terminal. (Airlines and the TAA have supplies of face coverings for those who need one. Face masks are also for sale at the Arroyo Trading Post, pre-security on the ticketing level of the terminal.)
  • TUS Cares: Please observe new signage and floor and seat distance markers to practice safe social distancing, avoid unnecessary physical contact and wash your hands often. TUS has also installed acrylic shields at counters and other points of contact and increased cleaning and deep cleaning of facilities, including restrooms using EPA-approved disinfectants and added more hand sanitizer dispensers.

Going Through TSA Security

  • Wait times at TUS could exceed 15 minutes at the busiest times this holiday but usually they will be less than 10 minutes.
  • TSA employees are spread out to maintain safe social distancing through the checkpoint.
  • Be prepared to lower or remove your face covering briefly so the TSA officer can verify your identity.
  • Remove hand sanitizer containers larger than 3.4 ounces, food in clear plastic bags and large electronics such as laptops from carry-on bags so they can be screened separately. (Please be aware that to limit contact, TSA officers may ask passengers to exit the checkpoint and either dispose of or separate items that have triggered alarms, which would require returning to the beginning end of the checkpoint queue.)

At the Gates and Boarding

  • Some food concessions may have limited hours. At least one food outlet is open before every departing flight. Open food concessions include:
    A Gates (Frontier, Southwest and United airlines) – Beyond Bread and Sir Veza’s Taco Garage.
    ·  B Gates (Alaska, American and Delta airlines) – Bruegger’s Bagels and El Charro Café.
    ·  C Gates (Allegiant Air) – Market Express.
  • Retail concessions, post security on the concourses that are open again are:
    A Gates: Gates Pass By Hudson
    ·  B Gates: Ft. Lowell By Hudson and Ink media store (5:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
  • Signage, floor and seat distance markers have been installed in gate seating areas to indicate where to sit for safe social distancing.
  • Disposable cup dispensers have been installed near water bottle filling stations and traditional drinking fountains have been taken out of service.
  • Boarding Processes: Each airline has made adjustments to boarding to reduce person-to-person contact. In all cases, passengers are asked to stay clear of the gate door until their group is called.
    Alaska is boarding passengers in small groups by row number from the rear to the front.

    • Allegiant continues to board by groups and zones but is monitoring the process to encourage safe social distancing.
    • American continues to use its system of boarding by nine groups but is starting the process earlier and requires all passengers to be on board 15 minutes before scheduled departure.
    • Delta is boarding main cabin passengers from the back to the front. Premium passengers can board at their leisure.
    • Frontier is boarding passengers from the rear of the aircraft to the front of the aircraft. It is also conducting temperature screenings of passengers and flight crews. Only those with a temperature reading below 100.4° Fahrenheit are allowed to board the aircraft.
    • Southwest continues to have its open seating policy but is now boarding in smaller groups of 10 and has reduced the number of tickets sold so the middle seat in all rows can remain open. (Families traveling together are may use the middle seat.)
    • United is boarding passengers by seat assignment from the rear of the aircraft to the front of the aircraft in all cabins.
  • Stay safe during your flight.