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Tucson International Airport Tucson Airport Authority Ryan Airfield

TSA Security

The Transportation Security Administration has three checkpoints at Tucson International Airport, at the entrances to the A, B and C gates. The concourse are not connected post-security so it is important to use the checkpoint for your gate.

Approaching the terminal, the C gates are the first you come to, followed by the B gates and the A gates. Passengers departing on Allegiant enter the C gates checkpoint from the breezeway at that facility. Passengers departing on Alaska, American and Delta enter the B gates at the west of the departures level of the main terminal. Passengers departing on Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country and United enter the A Gates at the east side, or the last gates, of the main terminal.

Checkpoints for the A and B concourses in the main terminal open by 4 a.m. daily, or two hours before the first scheduled flight of the day, and close when the last flight of the night departs. The checkpoint for the C gates is open only when flights are scheduled from that building. Wait times are usually less than 15 minutes except during busy times early in the morning before 8 a.m. and mid-day from about 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Note: Tucson does not observe Daylight Saving Time and airlines adjust their schedules accordingly. From November until early March when Standard Time is in effect in the United States, the busy times are an hour later.)

Information regarding the checkpoint process can be found at the Transportation Security Administration’s website.

TSA PreCheck✓

Specially designated lanes at the entrances to both the A gates and B gates allow passengers who have been qualified through U.S. Department of Homeland Security programs including TSA Pre✓, Global Entry, SENTRI and active duty military personnel to use expedited screening. Passengers who qualify for this will have it noted on their boarding pass with a reference to TSA Pre✓.  At times when there are not sufficient passengers, the TSA may close the PreCheck queueing lane and/or screening equipment. At those times, the document checker will direct qualified passengers how to proceed through the screening process. In some cases, the PreCheck equipment may still be used and at other times passengers will go through the regular screening lane and permitted to wear their shoes but will be required to remove laptops and similar devices from carrying cases. TSA PreCheck✓ is not currently available at the C gates checkpoint.

Special Needs

Personnel are prepared to assist passengers using wheelchairs or strollers and their traveling companions, including service animals, through the TSA checkpoints. Passengers being dropped off and needing wheelchair assistance should request that assistance when making their airline reservations. Due to security regulations, the airport cannot permit drivers to leave their vehicles unattended at the curb while assisting passengers into the terminal.


What time should I arrive at the airport before my flight?

Arriving 90 minutes ahead of your scheduled departure is usually ample time to check-in, check baggage, get through TSA security and be at your gate 30 minutes ahead of time for boarding. Please arrive earlier if you require assistance. For flights departing 6 a.m.-8 a.m. weekdays and at holidays, the recommendation is to arrive 2 hours ahead of departure due to TSA wait times. The airport will post notices on its website and use social media when we anticipate passengers will need to build in extra time.

What time do the TSA security checkpoints open in the morning?

The TSA security checkpoints for the A and B gates generally open by 4 a.m. and close when the last flight of the day departs. The checkpoint for the C gates opens 2 hours ahead of scheduled flight departures. Please be aware there are no restroom facilities in the waiting area for the C gates once passengers have cleared security. Passengers who exit the secure area to use a restroom at the C gates must re-clear TSA security.

My flight leaves at 5 a.m., TSA's hours don't give me enough to make my flight, what do I do?

TSA schedules its checkpoint operating hours based on information from airlines. Few, if any, flights are scheduled to depart before 5 a.m. and only one or two flights are scheduled to depart before 5:30 a.m. so in most cases passengers can go through security beginning at 4 a.m. and be at their gate in time to board the aircraft. In special cases such as holidays where airlines may schedule earlier than normal departures, the TSA security checkpoint should open at least one hour before the first departure of the morning so if you have a flight that is to depart at 4:30 a.m., the checkpoint for that concourse should be open by 3:30 a.m.

How long does it take to get through TSA security?

Waiting to go through security usually takes the most time. In most cases, waits are less than 10 minutes at Tucson International Airport but during busy hours it can increase to as much as 20 to 25 minutes. Going through security is often a quick process. Don’t be alarmed, though, if you are selected for further screening. Sometimes it’s merely a random selection that shouldn’t take too much time.

What paperwork/ID do I need for security?

All passengers must have a boarding pass and adult passengers ages 18 and older must use a current photo identification issued by a federal or state government agency. A current regular Arizona Driver License will continue to be an accepted form of ID for travel through September 30, 2020. After that date, Arizona residents will be required to use either the optional state-issued Voluntary Travel ID, which is currently available, or another acceptable ID. The Transportation Security Administration has more information about IDs:

What is the Arizona Voluntary Travel ID?

Arizona has developed an optional Voluntary Travel ID that complies with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. It is currently available so it is an acceptable ID for boarding an aircraft now and will continue to be as of October 1, 2020, when the regular Arizona Driver License will no longer be acceptable. The Voluntary Travel ID can be combined and also used as a driver’s license. Travelers who wish to obtain this enhanced ID may do so through the Arizona Department of Transportation. The cost is $25 and in most cases they are valid for eight years. More information on the Voluntary Travel ID is here:

I just got my driver's license and was given a temporary paper license, can I use it to get through security at the airport?

It would be better if you have another acceptable photo ID but if not it can be used. Allow extra time for security screening.

What about IDs for children? 

IDs are not usually required for children under 18 but make certain the airline is aware of any children flying. An airline may have additional requirements, especially if the child is traveling unaccompanied.

I'm scared I'm going to make a mistake going through security, what advice do you have?

It may be hectic but don’t be scared. Airport security is intended for your safety. It might help you to know the most common oversights people make when going through airport security are:

  • Not emptying pockets of everything … even that last penny.
  • Bringing a bottle of water or other liquid through security.
  • Leaving a laptop or any powered electronic device larger than a cell phone in its carrying case.

One more thing for families or groups: Keep each person’s boarding pass and ID separate. Handing a TSA agent a group of boarding passes and IDs slows the process.


What is this about “enhanced” pat-downs?

The TSA has started using a standardized procedure for pat-downs that it describes as its highest-level of pat-down. Previously, screeners could choose from various styles of pat-down searches, some of which were less invasive.  At Tucson International Airport, the Tucson Airport Authority has made private screening rooms available to the TSA for passengers who request them. Information about the TSA’s pat-down screening is here.

May I bring ____(blank)_____ through security?

The TSA has answers here:

I am planning to travel with my gun, what should I do?

There are strict guidelines for traveling with firearms and ammunition. They can only be accepted as checked baggage, not as a carry-on. Before coming to the airport, read the rules and regulations regarding the transport of firearms on the TSA website (here). Be aware that although cases must be locked, you are required to declare you are checking a firearm each time you present it for travel and you must be prepared to open the case for TSA, law enforcement and/or airline personnel.


Is there such a thing as expedited airport security? 

Yes. The Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck✓ program permits pre-qualified passengers to go through the screening process without removing their shoes or belts or taking  laptops out of carry-on bags. To qualify for PreCheck✓, passengers must be enrolled in one of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler programs. At Tucson International Airport this service is currently available at the checkpoints for the A and B gates but not the C gates.

How do I qualify for TSA PreCheck?

Trusted Traveler programs run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection include the ability to use TSA PreCheck✓. A popular program for airline travelers is Global Entry, which has an application fee of $100. Applicants should first enroll, apply and pay the fee online at After receiving conditional approval, applicants may then schedule an interview at the Enrollment Center conveniently located at Tucson International Airport at 7150 S. Tucson Blvd., which is adjacent to the C Gates building and about 300 feet west of the main terminal.

It's frustrating, I paid for PreCheck and qualify for it but it is not open, why?

Ideally TSA would like to have PreCheck open as much as possible because it can be more efficient. The PreCheck process is different from standard screening and requires separate staffing. At slower times of the day, it’s not practical to staff extra lanes for screening. At those times, passengers who qualify for PreCheck go through the regular screening process but can leave on their shoes and belts. You will have to take your laptop and any electronics larger than a normal cell phone out of its carrying case, however. It’s sort of a PreCheck “lite.” The TSA says that as more passengers qualify and use PreCheck it will be able to extend the hours.


If I’m not traveling, can I take a child or someone needing additional help through security? 

Airlines can issue a gate pass for these circumstances. The escort must show a valid government-issued photo ID. Allow extra time to get the pass. It’s also a good idea to alert the airline ahead of time.

Is there a way to go from one concourse to the other without going through security again?

No, the A, B and C concourses at Tucson International Airport are not connected beyond the security checkpoints.

How do I find out if TSA has something I lost?

For items that may have been left at the checkpoint or for something you believe is missing from checked luggage, contact the TSA at (520) 799-9313. Lost and Found information for the airport and airlines is here.

I have a question that wasn't answered here, where can I find more?

The TSA has answers to more FAQs here.


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