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TUS Travel Information During COVID-19

Danette Bewley

If you are flying soon, welcome back to Tucson International Airport (TUS)!

Whether you are a Southern Arizonan or a visitor planning to come to the open spaces of our beautiful Sonoran Desert, please know that as you consider your decision to fly our primary concern is your safety. That said, this page has been developed to provide you with current information about what to expect as you travel through TUS and on to your flight.

The Tucson Airport Authority, and its employees, as well as the many others who work for the airlines, airport restaurants and shops, rental car companies, parking lots, ground transportation providers and federal agencies are committed to your safety and well-being. We want your journey through TUS, a clean and sanitized facility, to be smooth and enjoyable, and for you to choose to fly TUS in the future.

I understand the impacts of the COVID-19 emergency will change how you travel. If your travel plans are for next week, next month or later, we look forward to seeing you and welcoming you back to TUS. In the meantime, stay safe and well.

Danette Bewley
President & CEO
Tucson Airport Authority

Latest Updates – January 17, 2021

  • Tucson International Airport (TUS) is open and operating as critical essential infrastructure in the transportation services sector, as defined in orders by both the United States and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Traveling to and from the airport is exempt from the Pima County curfew in effect from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. Exemptions include passengers, people assisting passengers, people sending or receiving shipments and airport employees.
  • Information on COVID testing and quarantine requirements for both arriving and departing passengers is updated in the the answers to Question 1 and 2 in COVID-19 Travel FAQs.)
  • Future airline schedules are updated for American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country and United airlines. (Learn more: TUS Airlines Schedules.)
  • Free COVID-19 tests are now available to passengers inside Tucson International Airport and a second site, with free parking, has been set up for non-travelers. (Learn more below: TUS Cares – At the Airport)
  • Food concessions at TUS now offer online contactless ordering, payment and pick up. (Ready to try it out? Connect here.) Food and retail shops are reopening in the terminal. (Learn more here.)

What to Expect Traveling Through TUS

Jump to these topics:

TUS Cares-At the Airport Airlines Schedules Airline Safety

 TUS Operational Changes COVID-19 Travel FAQs  COVID-19 Info

TUS Cares – At the Airport

Free Passenger COVID-19 Tests at TUS

Free COVID-19 tests are now available at two sites at Tucson International Airport (TUS) – one for passengers traveling through the airport and another public site for those in the community who are not traveling. Through a partnership with the Pima County Health Department, Arizona Department of Health Services and Paradigm Laboratories, the test being given is the viral or PCR test described by public health officials as the gold standard for its reliability. Test results are available within 72 hours.

For efficiency and to avoid crowding, please register here (or click on the blue COVID-19 test graphic) or, if you’ve just arrived and are in the terminal, there are signs with a QR code allowing you to use your smartphone to instantly connect to the scheduler. Arriving passengers may also schedule a time before departing on their journey to Tucson.

The Testing Center for passengers is on the lower level in Baggage Claim, near baggage carousels 4 (Alaska Airlines) and 5 (Southwest Airlines). It is open Noon-8 p.m. daily. The site for non-travelers is at 6868 S. Plumer Ave. (click address for directions). It is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Free parking is available at the Plumer site. Click here to set up a time for either location.

TUS Lands STAR Cleaning Accreditation

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 was among the first five airports in the world – and the first in the Western United States – to receive the accreditation. To see current status of other airports that have been accredited or are seeking accreditation, click here. Other venues, including sports stadiums, convention centers, hotels and commercial establishments are also being accredited.

Face Covering Requirement

Everyone entering the terminal at Tucson International Airport (TUS) is required to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, as recommended by public health officials to help 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 the terminal to meet arriving passengers please ensure you are wearing a mask.

 

Additional Safety Protocols

Tucson Airport Authority team members and our partners have been diligently working to help ensure your travel experience through Tucson International Airport (TUS) is as safe as possible. Our custodial crews take pride that their outstanding work in the terminal has long been recognized by passengers in our annual customer service surveys. The TAA is not wavering from those high standards and, in fact, has taken added measures.

TUS Cares enhanced measures and precautions include:

  • Elevators in the TUS terminal are now equipped with foot-operated buttons to make for a touchless experience.
  • Handrails on escalators and moving walkways are continuously sterilized by ultraviolet germicidal irradiation using UV-C light installed underneath the rails as they cycle.
  • Transparent acrylic shields are installed at airline check-in, gate podium and baggage claim counters as well as points of transactions counters for rental cars and shops and restaurants.
  • Signage and markers indicate safe physical distancing in queues for airline counters and security checkpoints, gate waiting areas, around baggage claim carousels and in the rental car center.
  • Face coverings are worn by all employees in the terminal.
  • Restrooms are monitored and cleaned multiple times throughout the day and disinfected overnight using specialized sanitation machines. (Fixtures – faucets, soap and paper towel dispensers, toilets – operate using touchless activation.)
  • “High-touch” areas (self-service kiosks, 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 cleaned multiple times throughout the day with disinfectants and sanitized 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 have been taken out of service and dispensers with disposable paper cups have been installed next to water bottle filling stations on the concourses.
  • Deep cleaning of surfaces has been done throughout the terminal.
  • Airport Parking Shuttles are using new boarding and exiting procedures and limiting capacity to reduce potential for contact.

TUS Airlines Schedules

Airlines at TUS are adjusting schedules. Below is a summary of schedule changes by airline and destination. Click on the airline name for a link to each carrier’s current travel advisory information.

Alaska Airlines

  • Portland, Oregon – 1 flight per day.
  • Seattle – 2 flights per day.

Allegiant Air

  • Indianapolis – Flights resume Thursdays and Sundays effective February 11.
  • Las Vegas – Flights resume Thursdays and Sundays effective February 11.
  • Provo – Flights resume Thursdays and Sundays effective February 11.

American Airlines

  • Chicago O’Hare – 1 flight per day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays;
  • Dallas/Fort Worth – 5 flights per day;
  • Los Angeles  (Nonstop flights suspended; scheduled to resume March 4.)
  • Phoenix – 4 flights on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and 3 flights Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Delta Air Lines

  • Atlanta – 2 flights per day.
  • Los Angeles – 2 flights per day.
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – 1 flight per day.
  • Salt Lake City – 4 flights per day.
  • Seattle – 1 flight per day.

Frontier Airlines

  • Denver – Flights on Saturdays-only through March 6; then flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays effective March 7.

Southwest Airlines

  • Chicago Midway – Flights on Saturdays-only; Sundays added February 28 and Thursdays and Fridays added March 11.
  • Denver – 2 flights per day.
  • Houston Hobby – NEW – Nonstop flights Sundays-Fridays; Saturday flights added effective March 13.
  • Las Vegas – 2 flights per day.
  • Los Angeles (Nonstop flights suspended; scheduled to resume March 7.)
  • Oakland – NEW – Nonstop flights Sundays-Fridays start March 11.
  • San Diego – Nonstop flights on Saturdays resume March 13, daily flights resume April 11.
  • San Jose (Nonstop flights are suspended.)

Sun Country Airlines

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – Flights on Thursdays and Sundays.

United Airlines

  • Chicago O’Hare – 1 flight per day.
  • Denver – 3 flights per day.
  • Houston – 2 flights per day.
  • San Francisco – 2 flights per day.

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

Airline Health Safety Protocols

Airlines at TUS are using enhanced protocols to deep clean and disinfect aircraft cabins that include electrostatic and fogging procedures with additional attention to key touch points – like tray tables, arm rests, seatbelts, buttons, vents, handles and lavatories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that because of how air circulates and is filtered using High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on aircraft. On average, cabin air is completely refreshed every 3 minutes (compared with every 5 minutes in a typical office building.)

Additional measures for passengers include:

  • Compliant face coverings must be worn over the nose and mouth by all except young children. Non-compliant face coverings include those with an exhaust valve, 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 are OK as an additional safety measure but a compliant face covering must be worn underneath. Be aware that anyone traveling on Allegiant, Delta, Sun Country or United airlines who feels they cannot wear a face mask must reach out to the airline in advance to seek a waiver, which are allowed under very specific situations, and will require arriving at the airport early to undergo additional review at check-in. Alaska, American, Frontier and Southwest airlines do not offer waivers and say they cannot accommodate passengers who do not wear a face covering.
  • A health status acknowledgement form must be completed as part of check-in.
  • Capacity limits onboard aircraft continue on Delta Air Lines through March 30. Other airlines are not restricting capacity but most flights are not full.
  • Temperature checks of passengers and crew members are being conducted by Frontier Airlines before boarding using touchless thermometers. Only those with a temperature reading below 100.4° Fahrenheit are allowed to board.
  • Boarding at the gate has been adjusted with airlines either calling smaller groups or specific seat assignments. Passengers are asked to stay clear of the gate until being called to board to maintain safe physical distancing.

The links below provide specific information for each airline at TUS:

Alaska Airlines Travel Safety From Masks to Cleaning
Allegiant Air Going the Distance for Health and Safety
American Airlines Coronavirus Travel Updates
Delta Air Lines Travel Update Center
Frontier Committed to You
Southwest Airlines Steps to Ensure Your Safety
Sun Country Airlines Safety Updates
United Airlines What We’re Doing to Keep Customers and Employees Safe

TUS Operational Changes

Many services in the terminal are reopening. The emphasis continues to be on limiting person-to-person contact and maintaining safe social distancing, as recommended by public health guidelines.

  • Now passengers can order food, pay for it and use contactless pick up in the TUS terminal. The link to order is here.
  • Food concessions are reopening, though with limited hours in some cases. More information is here.
    • Ticketing Level (pre-security) – Temporary Restaurant With No Name is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.
    • 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 the first departure in the morning-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 12 noon-4 p.m.
    • B Gates (Alaska, American and Delta airlines) – Beyond Bread is open 6 a.m.-2 p.m., Bruegger’s Bagels is open 90 minutes before the first departure of the morning to 1 p.m., BUILT Custom Burgers is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., El Charro Café is open 6 a.m.-final departure and Thunder Canyon Brewstillery is open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
    • C Gates (Allegiant Air) – Market Express is open preceding each scheduled departure.
  • Retail shops that have reopened in the terminal are: (More here.)
    • 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.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry Enrollment Center at TUS has reopened. Applicants now have 545 days (18 months) from the date they received conditional approval to complete the enrollment process. Also, please be aware that the CBP offices at TUS have moved to 7081 S. Plumer Ave. More information is here.
  • Curbside bag check is suspended by all airlines. (Wheelchair assistance remains available. For efficiency, please request the wheelchair as part of your reservation.)
  • The Military Lounge is closed. A reopening date has not been determined.
  • Passenger assistance provided by TUS Warm Welcome Volunteers is resuming, though not all shifts are covered.
  • The Airport Lost & Found office is closed to the public. Office personnel can be reached 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.

TUS Travel FAQs For COVID-19

1. Do I need proof of a negative COVID test when I arrive in Tucson?

No, currently there is no requirement for healthy people arriving on domestic flights in Tucson or Arizona to produce the results of a COVID-19 test. (The Arizona Office of Tourism updates information here.) For your own peace of mind, arriving passengers can take a free COVID-19 test immediately after landing at Tucson International Airport. The PCR tests are offered through a partnership of the Pima County Health Department, Arizona Department of Health Services, Paradigm Laboratories and the Tucson Airport Authority. For efficiency and to avoid crowding, please register here. Results are available within 72 hours of taking the test.

2. Do I have to quarantine after traveling?

Arizona currently does not have any mandatory restrictions for arriving passengers. (The Arizona Office of Tourism has updated information here.) However, passengers departing Tucson should know there are 16 destinations in the United States with requirements that could include self-quarantine. Ten of those destinations have  provisions either requiring or accepting proof of a negative COVID test as an alternative to quarantine.

Also, with the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in many places in the United States, officials in communities are issuing measures that may not be widely publicized outside the local jurisdiction. Travelers should check their specific destination for the latest information.

The following jurisdictions either require a negative result from a viral or PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test taken within 72 hours of arrival or will accept it as an alternative to quarantine (click on jurisdiction name for details):

The following destinations have imposed mandatory self-quarantine requirements without an alternative. The requirements apply to non-essential travel and exempts passengers making airport connections or traveling through on the way to another destination (click on jurisdiction name for specific information):

  • Los Angeles County (FAQs), California (includes Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, Long Beach, Hollywood, Santa Clarita, Glendale, Pomona, Pasadena, Palmdale, Burbank, Torrance, Compton, Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills and other communities)
  • New Mexico
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Clara County, California (San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Stanford and other cities in the south San Francisco Bay Area)
  • Vermont
  • Washington, D.C.

In addition to the mandatory requirements listed above, other jurisdictions have issued health advisories and recommendations.

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

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

Generally, do as you always would have done. To reduce person-to-person contact, 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. (It is still possible to check-in at the airport, if necessary.) Bring a cloth face covering to wear as they are required in the terminal and on all airlines. It’s also a good idea to bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer for yourself. (The TSA is temporarily allowing larger carry-on hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces but they must be screened separately.) When you arrive at TUS please adhere to the signage and floor markers for safe social distancing. You can check current status of today’s flights at TUS here.

 

4. What should I know about booking flights?

Airlines are adjusting schedules to reflect changing passenger demand. You can check future airline schedules at TUS using the Plan Your Flight tool here.

5. 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 are permanently eliminating them on tickets for both domestic and international destinations. Southwest Airlines never charged change fees. The permanent elimination of change fees applies to all but basic economy fare tickets, however, for flights through March 31, the airlines are also temporarily waiving change fees on those tickets as well.

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

For specifics click the link for your airline:

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

Yes, there are several changes. Among them, an individual’s carry-on items can temporarily include one larger liquid hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces and food items are required to be put in clear plastic bags. These items must be removed from other baggage and screened separately. Learn more about TSA changes on the TUS Security page here.

7. 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.

Frontier Airlines is conducting 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.

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

No, in most cases that isn’t necessary. However, passengers of Allegiant, Delta, Sun Country and United airlines who are seeking a waiver of the requirement to wear a face covering must reach out to the airline in advance to begin the process that will require arriving at the airport early to complete additional check-in procedures. (Other airlines at TUS do not accept passengers without a face covering and have no provisions for waivers.) Barring unforeseen circumstances or special requirements, arriving at TUS 90 minutes ahead of departure should still be good.

9. Where can I have a COVID test done and get the results fast enough to travel?

First, it’s important that the test be what’s called a viral or PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Additionally, Hawaii accepts test results only from sites it has approved (which include Costco, CVS Health and Walgreens). For other destinations 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 24-36 hours. Learn more or make an appointment here. Otherwise your health care provider should be able to help.

Passengers arriving at TUS can take a free COVID-19 test before they depart Tucson International Airport. To register click here or use the QR code posted on signs inside the terminal after you land. The results will be sent by email and/or text within 72 hours.

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

That is a challenge with so many different rules and restrictions. A good comprehensive source of information is posted by United Airlines, one of our airline partners at TUS. It includes interactive maps as well as rundowns of requirements by state for U.S. domestic travel as well as information by country for international travel. The link to the information is here.

COVID-19 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 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 elevated temperature despite using fever reducing medication
    • A sustained dry cough
    • Difficulty catching your breath

COVID-19 Info

The links below provide factual information about COVID-19:

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