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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Updates for Passengers at
Tucson International Airport

october 21, 2020

Latest Updates

  • TUS Cares is the Tucson Airport Authority’s initiative to respond to the changing air travel environment with new safety enhancements and provide passengers with the most up-to-date information for travel through Tucson International Airport (TUS). (Learn more here.)
  • November and December schedules are updated for Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United airlines. (More under TUS Airlines Schedules.)
  • Foot-operated buttons have been installed in elevators in the TUS terminal. (More under Your Safety at TUS.)
  • The latest information on quarantine requirements after travel is in the answer to Question 9 in COVID-19 Travel FAQs.
  • Food and retail concessions are reopening in the terminal. (More information is here.)

Tucson International Airport (TUS) is open and is taking additional precautions to help ensure the health safety of passengers, employees and others who use the airport. 

Employees of the Tucson Airport Authority (TAA), airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), food and retail shops, rental car companies, ground transportation providers and other tenants are continuing to report for work each day to fulfill Tucson International Airport’s logistics role transporting passengers and cargo – including vital personnel and supplies during this emergency – and to support the training, air defense and homeland security missions of the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard.

The Tucson Airport Authority has developed TUS Cares, a safety initiative in response to COVID-19. To learn more and get the latest information to help you prepare for your your next flight, click on the graphic above.

Jump to these topics:

Your Safety at TUS Airlines Schedules TUS Operational Changes

COVID-19 Travel FAQs Personal Precautions COVID-19 Resources

Everyone entering the terminal at Tucson International Airport (TUS) is required to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, in accordance with public health recommendations  to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Visitors meeting arriving passengers are encouraged to wait in the Cell Phone Waiting lot and then pick them up at the curb outside Baggage Claim.  However, if you wish to come inside to meet arriving passengers, ensure you are wearing a face covering.


GBAC STAR Cleaning Accreditation Lands at TUS

The Global Biorisk Advisory Council has awarded STAR™ accreditation to Tucson International Airport in recognition of its thorough approach to cleaning, disinfection, and infection prevention. The TAA sought the accreditation to demonstrate its commitment and dedication to protecting airport patrons and employees. TUS is just one of five airports in the world – and the first in the Western United States – to have received the accreditation. The others are Dallas/Fort Worth International, Palm Beach International, John Glenn Columbus International and Montréal-Trudeau International. Other venues, including sports stadiums, convention centers, hotels and commercial establishments have also been accredited.

Your Safety at TUS

If you are traveling, we want you to know the Tucson Airport Authority’s highest priority is – and always has been – safety and security at its airports, whether it’s on the airfield or for the health and well-being of passengers and employees.

At Tucson International Airport (TUS) our custodial team takes pride in maintaining the airport terminal to the highest standards (which has been recognized by passengers in our annual customer service surveys). The TAA is not wavering on those high standards and, in fact, has taken added measures to help ensure the safety for all who use the airport.

The following are some of the measures and precautions TAA has taken for the safety of passengers and employees.

  • Elevators in the TUS terminal are now equipped foot-operated buttons to make for a touchless experience. Look down toward the floor both outside and inside the elevators.
  • NEW: Handrails on escalators and moving walkways are being sterilized by ultraviolet germicidal irradiation using  UV-C light installed underneath the rails as they cycle.
  • Transparent acrylic shields have been installed at airline check-in counters and departure gates as well as other points of transactions and in restrooms.
  • Signage and markers to indicate safe physical distancing have been installed in queues for airline counters, TSA security checkpoints at gate waiting areas, around baggage claim carousels and in the rental car center.
  • Cloth face coverings are being worn by employees of the TAA, TSA and airlines to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
  • Restrooms are being monitored and cleaned multiple times throughout the day. All restrooms are disinfected overnight using specialized sanitation machines. (Fixtures – faucets, soap and paper towel dispensers, toilets – use touchless activation.
  • “High-touch” areas (handrails, armrests, etc.) are cleaned multiple times throughout the day using EPA-approved disinfectants designed to kill bacteria/viruses within 5 minutes of application.
  • Gate waiting areas are disinfected overnight.
  • More instant hand sanitizer dispensers have been added throughout the terminal.
  • Extra soap, the preferred method for washing hands, is maintained in restrooms, especially near food service areas.
  • Traditional drinking fountains are out of service and paper cup dispensers are now available next to water bottle filling stations on the concourses.
  • Deep cleaning of surfaces has been done throughout the terminal.

TUS Airlines Schedules

COVID-19 concerns have impacted air service and airlines are adjusting their schedules. See the status of today’s flights at Tucson International Airport (TUS) here.

All airlines at TUS require passengers and flight crews to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth per CDC guidelines and no longer exempt passengers who are unable to wear a face covering, except young children. Allegiant, Delta, Sun Country and United have established pre-flight requirements that require additional time at check-in for passengers who believe they have conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. Alaska, American, Frontier and Southwest say they cannot transport passengers who are unable to wear a face covering.

Face coverings that do not fit snugly over the nose and mouth are prohibited, including those that have an exhaust valve or are made of material with large holes such as mesh or lace, bandanna masks and any covering that cannot be secured under the chin. Face shields may be worn as an additional safety measure but a compliant face covering still must be worn underneath.

Frontier Airlines is also conducting temperature screenings of passengers and flight crews using touchless thermometers. Only those with a temperature reading below 100.4° Fahrenheit are permitted to board. If time permits before flight departure, passengers who have an initial temperature reading that is high can rest for a few minutes before having their temperature taken a second time.

Airlines are adjusting boarding procedures  to maintain social distancing by calling smaller groups or by specific seat assignments. Passengers are asked to stay clear of the gate until being called to board.

Below is a summary of schedule changes at TUS by airline and destination. The TAA updates this as we learn of changes so please check back but please understand it is subject to change.

(Click on airline name to see information from that airline regarding COVID-19.)

Alaska Airlines

  • Portland, Oregon – 1 flight per day.
  • Seattle – 3 flights per day.

Allegiant Air

  • Bellingham, Washington – Flights are suspended.
  • Indianapolis – Flights resume Thursdays and Sundays effective February 11.
  • Las Vegas – Flights resume Fridays and Mondays effective December 4. (During Christmas and New Year’s weeks flights are scheduled on December 21, 24, 27 and 31 and January 3).
  • Provo – Flights resume Thursdays and Sundays effective February 11.

American Airlines

  • Chicago O’Hare – Nonstop flights daily except Wednesdays through November 2.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth – Reduced to 5 flights per day.
  • Los Angeles – Nonstop flights are suspended.
  • Phoenix – 4 flights per day; reduced to 3 flights per day effective November 4.

Delta Air Lines

  • Atlanta – Reduced to 1 flight per day; increases to 2 flights per day effective November 20.
  • Los Angeles – Reduced to 1 flight per day; increases to 2 flights per day effective November 20.
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – Nonstop flights resume December 19.
  • Salt Lake City – 3 flights per day.
  • Seattle – Nonstop flights are suspended.

Frontier Airlines

  • Denver – Weekly flights on Saturdays through November 28. Then flights scheduled for December 11, 17, 20, 23, 27, 30; January 3 and 7; changing to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays effective January 10.

Southwest Airlines

  • Chicago Midway – Nonstop flights resume November 1 on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Mondays added November 9. During Thanksgiving week, flights operate November 22, 23, 24, 25,27, 28, 29 and 30.
  • Denver -3 flights per day; reduced to 2 flights per day October 26; resumes 3 flights per day effective November 4.
  • Houston Hobby – NEW – Nonstop flights Sundays-Fridays start November 4. (Does not operate November 26.)
  • Las Vegas – 3 flights per day; reduced to 2 flights per day October 26; resumes 3 flights per day effective November 4.
  • Los Angeles – Nonstop flights are scheduled to operate November 22-25, 29, 30; December 20, 23; 27; and scheduled to resume daily January 3.
  • San Diego – Nonstop flights are suspended and scheduled to resume January 4.
  • San Jose – Nonstop flights are suspended and scheduled to resume Sundays-only effective February 14.

Sun Country Airlines

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – Flights are suspended and scheduled to resume Thursdays and Sundays effective December 17 with additional flights on Tuesdays, December 22 and 29.

United Airlines

  • Chicago O’Hare – 1 flight per day.
  • Denver – 3 flights per day.
  • Houston – Reduced to 1 flight per day; increases to 2 flights per day effective November 2.
  • San Francisco – Reduced to 2 flights per day.

For future planning, check the current flight schedules to or from Tucson and any destination using the Plan Your Flight tool here.

TUS Temporary Operational Changes

As more passengers return to TUS some of the services in the terminal that were closed or limited when passenger demand declined are beginning to reopen and expand hours. There will continue to be an emphasis on limiting person-to-person contact and maintaining safe social distancing, as recommended by public health guidelines.

  • Food concessions are reopening in the terminal. More information is here.
    • A Gates (Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country and United airlines) – Beyond Bread is open 6 a.m.-2 p.m., Dunkin’ Donuts opens 90 minutes before first departure on the day day-11 a.m., Sir Veza’s Taco Garage opens at 6 a.m. and closes with the final departure of the day and The Maverick is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
    • B Gates (Alaska, American and Delta airlines) – Beyond Bread is open 6 a.m.-2 p.m., Bruegger’s Bagels opens 90 minutes before the first departure of the morning to 1 p.m., BUILT Custom Burgers is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m., El Charro Café is open 6 a.m.-final departure and Thunder Canyon Brewstillery is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
    • C Gates (Allegiant Air) – Market Express is open preceding each scheduled departure.
  • Retail shops that have reopened in the terminal:
    • Pre-security, ticketing level of the main terminal: Arroyo Trading Post is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
    • A Gates (post security): Gates Pass by Hudson opens 90 minutes before the first departure of the day and closes with the final departure.
    • B Gates (post security): Ft. Lowell by Hudson opens 90 minutes before the first flight departure of the day and closes with the final departure, and Ink media store is open 6 a.m.-12 noon. Learn more here.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry Enrollment Center at TUS has reopened as of September 8. Appointments can be made for future dates. Applicants now have 545 days (18 months) from the date they received conditional approval to complete the enrollment process due to the centers being closed from March 19. Separate from the current situation, the CBP offices are TUS are moving during November. More information is here.
  • American Airlines curbside bag check is suspended until further notice. (Southwest is the only airline at TUS currently offering curbside bag check.)
  • The Military Lounge is closed. A reopening date has not been determined.
  • Passenger assistance provided by TUS Airport Ambassadors is suspended until further notice.
  • The Airport Lost & Found office is closed to the public but personnel can contacted by phone at (520) 573-8156 during business hours. More information is here.
  • The Tucson Airport Authority Administration Offices are closed to visitors. Employees can be reached by email or phone during business hours, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, except for holidays. The main phone number is (520) 573-8100.
  • Rentals of terminal meeting rooms are temporarily suspended.

COVID-19 Travel FAQs

1. What should I do if I have a flight in the next 24 hours?

Generally, do as you always would have done. Check-in for your flight remotely if you can and have your boarding passes, either on your mobile device or printed, when you arrive at the airport to reduce person-to-person contact. (It is still possible to check-in at the airport, if necessary.) Bring a cloth face covering to wear. When you arrive at TUS you will see we have added signs and floor markers as reminders to practice safe distancing, especially in queues for airline counters and TSA checkpoints. You can check the current status of today’s flights at TUS here.

2. What about future flights?

Airlines have adjusted schedules to remove some flights. If you are booking a future flight, you will not be able to buy a ticket on a flight that has been removed from the schedule (in some cases a removed flight may appear on the schedule but will show as “unavailable” or “sold out”). If you previously booked a flight that has since been taken off the schedule, your airline should contact you by your preferred contact method (email or text) with an alternate booking, which you may be able to change to another flight, receive a credit for a future flight, or receive a refund. You can check future airline schedules at TUS using the Plan Your Flight tool here.

3. I'm worried about booking a flight, what if something happens to me?

If there has been a consumer benefit that has come from the current situation it is that airlines have suspended change fees and now Alaska, American, Delta and United have permanently eliminated them on domestic tickets and to some other destinations in North America. Southwest Airlines never charged change fees. The permanent elimination of change fees applies to all but basic economy fare tickets for destinations throughout the 50 United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with American also including Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. In some cases, the temporary suspensions that are in place could be more generous because they apply to basic economy fares or allow more to time to rebook to a new flight.

Ultra-low cost carriers Allegiant, Frontier and Sun Country are keeping change fees but Allegiant is temporarily allowing a one-time change at no additional charge.

For specifics click the link for your airline:

4. Is TSA doing anything differently at the security checkpoints?

Yes, there are several changes intended to protect employees and passengers. Significant temporary changes for passengers are that hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces are permitted to go through security as a carry-on item but they must be removed from other bags and screened separately. Food must be put in a clear plastic bag and also screened separately. Read more about other TSA changes on the TUS security page here.

5. Are there health screenings for passengers at the airport?

Not at the present time. The Tucson Airport Authority’s Emergency Medical Services team has been trained and provided with specific guidance on COVID-19 and is prepared to respond to emergencies at TUS. Flight crews and airport personnel are required to contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if an individual is sick with specific symptoms.

Among airlines at TUS, Frontier has implemented temperature screenings of passengers and flight crews before boarding using touchless thermometers. Only those with a temperature reading below 100.4° Fahrenheit are allowed to board.

6. Should I arrive earlier than normal for my flight?

Not in most cases. Barring unforeseen or special circumstances, arriving at TUS 90 minutes ahead of departure should still be good. Be advised, however, anyone seeking a waiver to airline requirements to wear a face covering should reach out to the airline advance for check-in procedures, which will require arriving at the airport earlier than normal. Not all airlines offer waivers.

7. What is the risk of getting COVID-19 on an airplane?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily. Modern airliners use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that remove 99.97% of particles and, on average, completely refresh cabin air every 3 minutes (compared with every 5 minutes in a typical office building). Additionally, all airlines at TUS have enhanced cleaning procedures of aircraft using EPA-approved disinfectants that are effective against viruses.

8. What are airlines doing about social distancing on the plane?

This is where it gets difficult. To offer the low fares travelers have come to expect, airlines rely on being able to sell as many seats on a flight as possible to spread out the costs. But to help assure passengers during the COVID-19 emergency, some airlines are making adjustments to try to encourage social distancing. All airlines require passengers, except young children, to wear face coverings that fit snugly over a person’s nose and mouth.

The following is a rundown of the measures implemented by the airlines at TUS:

Alaska Airlines Travel Safety From Masks to Cleaning
Alaska is limiting ticket sales and blocking seats on flights through November 30. Families who wish to be seated together using blocked seats can request to do so. Passengers who refuse to comply with the face covering requirement will be issued a warning that could result in being prohibited from future flights. Passengers are also required to complete a health agreement at check-in.

Allegiant Air Going the Distance for Health and Safety
Allegiant is not limiting capacity but crew members may reseat passengers to provide as much distancing as possible. Upon boarding, passengers are offered a personal safety kit that includes a single-use face mask and sanitizing wipes. Passengers with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering are required to present documentation from a medical doctor to the gate agent at least one hour prior to departure. Passengers are also required to complete a health check form at check-in.

American Airlines Coronavirus Travel Updates
American is not limiting capacity but passengers may change seats after boarding is complete to achieve better distancing. American’s face covering requirement begins from the time the passenger enters the airport, through their entire flight and until they leave the airport at their destination. Passengers are also required to complete a coronavirus symptom checklist at check-in.

Delta Air Lines Travel Update Center
Delta is limiting capacity through at least January 6 to no more than 75% of capacity by blocking middle seats on larger aircraft and some aisle seats on smaller aircraft without three abreast seating. Passengers with a health condition they believe prevents them from wearing a face covering are asked to reconsider their decision to fly or they will be required to undergo a “Clearance to Fly” medical phone consultation with a representative of STAT-MD. The private virtual consultation is facilitated by Delta as part of the flight check-in process and requires passengers to arrive at the airport an hour earlier than normal to complete the process. In addition to children under the age of 2, unaccompanied minors are exempt from the face mask requirement.

Frontier Committed to You
Frontier is not limiting capacity on aircraft but is conducting temperature checks of passengers and crew members using touchless thermometers. Only those with a temperature reading below 100.4° Fahrenheit are allowed to board. Passengers are also required to complete a health acknowledgement form.

Southwest Airlines Steps to Ensure Your Safety
Through at least November 30, Southwest is limiting the number of tickets sold on each flight to allow for the middle seat to remain open. In keeping with its open seating policy Southwest will allow families traveling together to use the middle seat. Southwest permits neck gaiters if they can be secured under the chin. At check-in Southwest passengers must complete a health declaration form.

Sun Country Airlines Safety Updates
Sun Country is not limiting capacity but is blocking selection of middle seats during the reservations process. Middle seats may be assigned at the airport. Families traveling together who wish to use a middle seat may request to do so. Sun Country’s minimum age requirement for wearing a face covering is 6. As part of the booking process, passengers are advised they will be required to complete a pre-travel health assessment at check-in that includes acknowledging they will wear a face covering. Passengers who believe they cannot answer yes to the questions are required to contact Sun Country in advance of their flight.

United Airlines What We’re Doing to Keep Customers and Employees Safe
United is not limiting capacity, but requires passengers to complete a “Ready to Fly” health checklist wear a face covering from the time they enter their departing airport, through the flight until leaving the destination airport. Passengers who believe they have extraordinary circumstances that prevent them from wearing a face covering must reach out to United in advance to see if they can be accepted to fly.

9. Do I have to quarantine after traveling?

Arizona currently does not require arriving passengers to quarantine. However, for passengers departing Tucson there are 10 domestic destinations that have requirements that could include self-quarantine for 14 days. Five of those destinations accept proof of a negative COVID test result as an alternative to quarantine.

As an alternative to quarantine the following states accept a negative result from a viral, or PCR (polymerase chain reaction), test taken within 72 hours of arrival (click on state name for details):

Alaska has taken the opposite approach and requires the negative test result be provided by all non-resident arrivals. Those who cannot provide the test result are given a choice to quarantine for 14 days or pay $250 to take a test and then quarantine while awaiting the results.

The following destinations have imposed 14-day self quarantine requirements without an alternative, but in most cases the requirement applies only to non-essential travel (click on jurisdiction name for specific information):

The following jurisdictions with mandatory quarantine requirements no longer require it of passengers arriving from Arizona:

  • City of Chicago as of August 25
  • Kansas as of July 29

For international travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information here.

10. Where can I get a COVID test for travel?

Be sure to read requirements for your destination. Hawaii, for example, accepts tests only from sites it has approved (they include CVS and Walgreens). For most travel you could consider going to one of the COVID-19 test sites set up by the Pima County Health Department, where the tests are free to anyone 5 or older. If  you specify you need the results for travel, they can usually deliver them in about 24 hours. Learn more or make an appointment here. Otherwise your health care provider should be able to help.

11. Where can I find out about restrictions that may affect my trip?

That is a challenge with so many different rules and restrictions. One good comprehensive collection of information is an interactive map and state-by-state rundown posted online by United Airlines, one of our airline partners at TUS. The link is here.

Personal Precautions

The following precautions from health officials have been shared with TAA employees and is considered recommended advice for all:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Alternatively, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.)
  • Practice safe social distancing, keeping 6 feet of distance from unknown individuals.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a disinfectant cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Seek medical care if you have:
    • A persistent temperature elevation despite using fever reducing medication
    • A sustained dry cough
    • Difficulty catching your breath

COVID-19 Resources

Local, state and national resources for information about COVID-19 is available through these links:

Tucson area information: Pima County Health Department 

Arizona’s Response: Arizona Department of Health Services

National information: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

Source for checking rumors: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Rumor Control

 

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Tucson International Airport
7250 South Tucson Boulevard
Tucson, AZ 85756
(520) 573-8100