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TSA Security

As of May 7, 2025, passengers must show a Real ID-compliant identification to board a domestic airline flight. In Arizona that means a standard driver’s license will no longer be acceptable at TSA Security Checkpoints. Arizona is offering a Travel ID that meets Real ID requirements. Click here for information on the Travel ID and other documents that meet the new requirement.  

There are two Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at Tucson International Airport; at the entrances to the A and B gates. The concourses are not connected post-security so it is important to use the checkpoint for your gate.

Approaching the terminal on the roadway, the C gates, which are currently vacant, are the first you come to, followed by the B gates and then the A gates. Passengers departing on Alaska, American and Delta airlines enter the B gates at the west end of the departures level of the main terminal. Passengers departing on Southwest, Sun Country and United enter the A Gates at the east side of the main terminal.

Checkpoints for the A and B concourses in the main terminal open by 4 a.m. daily, or about two hours before the first scheduled flight of the day, and close with the final departure of the night. The checkpoint for the C gates is open only when flights are scheduled from that terminal. Security 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.

To reach TSA at Tucson International Airport
Customer Service: (520) 799-9300
Lost and Found: (520) 799-9302

TSA Checkpoint Updates

The Transportation Security Administration continues to proactively maintain protective measures instituted for the safety passengers and employees that were launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following is the latest information regarding changes to the security checkpoint process:

  • Face coverings: As of April 18, 2022, the TSA withdrew the security directive requiring face masks be worn at airports and on airline flights. As a result, wearing a face mask is optional for customers and employees in the terminal at Tucson International Airport (TUS).
  • Showing ID: Passengers now place their own ID or boarding pass directly on the electronic reader rather than handing it to an officer.
  • Liquid hand sanitizer: Containers of up to 12 ounces of liquid hand sanitizer are permitted through the checkpoint but because they are larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids they must be removed and screened separately.
  • Food: Carry-on food should be placed in a separate clear plastic bag to allow an officer to visually inspect it if it triggers an alarm.

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 queue 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.

Security FAQs

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

For international departures the recommended time is 2 hours. For domestic flights, 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 have circumstances that require assistance. For flights departing 6 a.m.-8 a.m. weekdays and around holidays, the recommendation is to arrive 2 hours ahead of departure due to higher numbers of passengers.

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. (earlier if a flight is scheduled to depart before 5 a.m.) and close with the final scheduled departure of the day.

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 around 4 a.m. and be at their gate in time to board the aircraft. At times such as around holidays when airlines may schedule earlier than normal departures or multiple departing flights in the early morning, the TSA security checkpoint will open earlier than 4 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 15 minutes at Tucson International Airport but during extremely busy hours, especially around holidays, 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?

At TUS, adult passengers ages 18 and older must present only a current government-issued photo identification. Passengers who are 17 or younger must show a boarding pass issued by the airline. Any Arizona Driver License will continue to be an accepted form of ID for adults through May 6, 2025. As of May 7, 2025, adult passengers are required to use an ID that complies with the federal REAL ID Act such as an Arizona Voluntary Travel ID or another acceptable ID. The Transportation Security Administration has more information about IDs: REAL ID | Homeland Security ( and Acceptable Identification at the TSA Checkpoint | Transportation Security Administration

What is the Arizona Voluntary Travel ID?

Arizona has developed an optional Voluntary Travel ID to comply 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 accepted as of May 3, 2023, when a standard 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 Motor Vehicle Division of 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.



What other IDs are acceptable to board an aircraft?

While driver’s licenses are the most common ID used at airport checkpoints, other IDs the TSA will accept starting May 3, 2023, for adult travelers ages 18 and older are:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • A Real ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card issued by any U.S. state or territory (Compliant IDs have a star incorporated into the design on the front.)
  • A Trusted Traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST) issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card (Green Card)
  • Border crossing card
  • A photo ID issued by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Tohono Oʼodham Nation or another federally recognized tribe
  • HSPD-12 PIV card (issued to federal employees and contractors)
  • Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) issued by the states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont or Washington
  • Passport issued by a foreign government
  • Driver’s licence issued by a Canadian province
  • Status card issued by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

IDs must be currently valid and not expired.

Not acceptable as Real IDs are standard state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs, temporary driver’s licenses, weapons permits and any document that includes a notation that it cannot be used as a federal ID.

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?

Temporary paper licenses are not acceptable but if you do not have another acceptable photo ID, you can bring the temporary license to the airport as a starting point. Please allow extra time to undergo additional questions and screening.

What about IDs for children? 

IDs are not required for children under 18 but make certain the airline is aware of any children flying so it can issue a boarding pass to get through TSA security. An airline may also have additional requirements, especially if the child is traveling unaccompanied.

What is this about “enhanced” pat-downs?

The TSA uses a standardized procedure for pat-downs that it describes as its highest-level of pat-down. 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 ____(?)_____ through security?

The TSA has answers to these questions 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. Tucson International Airport does not have, nor recognize Clear as a means of expedited security. If you have Clear, you will still need to go through General Screening or qualify for PreCheck✓ prior to booking.

How do I qualify for TSA PreCheck?

Some 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 first enroll, apply and pay the fee online and then, after receiving conditional approval, applicants schedule an interview at an Enrollment Center. The CBP’s Enrollment Center at TUS is at 7081 S. Plumer Ave. (at the base of the airport’s iconic old tower with T-U-C-S-O-N spelled out on it). An overview of the CBP’s various programs can be found here but not all include TSA PreCheck✓.

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 and, in most cases, leave laptops in their carrying cases. It’s sort of a PreCheck✓ “lite.” As more passengers qualify for and use PreCheck✓ the TSA will be able to extend its 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 concourses at Tucson International Airport are not connected beyond the TSA checkpoints.

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

For items that may have been left at a checkpoint at Tucson International Airport or for something you believe is missing from checked luggage, contact the TSA at (520) 799-9302. 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