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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 your safety is our primary concern as you consider your decision to fly. 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 employees 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 – October 28, 2020

  • November and December schedules are updated for Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United airlines. (Learn more: TUS Airlines Schedules.)
  • Tucson International Airport has received STAR accreditation for cleanliness. (Learn more: TUS Cares – At the Airport)
  • Elevators in the TUS terminal are now equipped with foot-operated buttons for a touchless experience. (Learn more: TUS Cares – At the Airport)
  • The latest information on quarantine requirements after travel is in the the answer to Question 7 in COVID-19 Travel FAQs.)
  • More food and retail concessions are reopened in the terminal. (More about the airport’s food and retail shops is 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

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 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.

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.

The following are some of the TUS Cares measures and precautions that have been taken:

  • NEW: 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.
  • Handrails on escalators and moving walkways are being continuously 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, gate podium and baggage claim counters as well as points of transactions counters for rental cars and shops and restaurants.
  • Signage and markers to indicate safe physical distancing have been installed in queues for airline counters and security checkpoints, gate waiting areas, around baggage claim carousels and in the rental car center.
  • Face coverings are being worn by employees of the TAA, TSA, the airlines and other airport companies at the airport 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 (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 being 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 – 3 flights per day.

Allegiant Air

  • Bellingham, Washington – Flights are suspended.
  • Indianapolis – Flights resume Thursdays and Sundays effective February 11.
  • Las Vegas – Flights scheduled to resume Fridays and Mondays effective January 8.
  • Provo – Flights resume Thursdays and Sundays effective February 11.

American Airlines

  • Chicago O’Hare – Daily flights except Wednesdays through November 2.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth – Reduced to 5 flights per day except 4 flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • 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 resume December 18.

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 on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays resume November 1; Mondays added November 9. Thanksgiving week flights operate November 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30. Christmas and New Year’s weeks flights operate December 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and January 2.
  • Denver – 2 flights per day; increases to 3 flights per day effective November 4.
  • Houston Hobby – NEW – Nonstop flights Sundays-Fridays start November 4. (Does not operate November 26.)
  • Las Vegas – 2 flights per day; increases to 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 January 3. Daily nonstop flights are currently scheduled to resume March 7.
  • San Diego – Nonstop flights are suspended and currently scheduled to resume March 7.
  • San Jose – Nonstop flights are suspended.

Sun Country Airlines

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – Flights 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 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 aircraft, including electrostatic and fogging procedures and disinfecting cabins and 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.)

All airlines at TUS require all passengers, except young children, to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth. There are no other exemptions. Allegiant, Delta, Sun Country and United airlines have procedures for passengers who wish to seek a waiver to the face covering requirement. Alaska, American, Frontier and Southwest say they cannot accommodate passengers without a face covering.

Face coverings must fit snugly over the nose and mouth. Face coverings that are prohibited include those that have an exhaust valve or are made of material with larger 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 must be worn underneath.

All airlines also require passengers to complete a form at check-in acknowledging their health status.

To maintain safe social distancing at the gate, airlines have adjusted the boarding process by calling smaller groups or specific seat assignments. Passengers are asked to stay clear of the gate until being called to board.

Learn more about the protocols for each airline at TUS below. (Click on airline for details)

Alaska Airlines Travel Safety From Masks to Cleaning
Alaska is limiting ticket sales and blocking seats on flights through January 6. Families who wish to be seated together using blocked seats can request to do so.

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. 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.

American Airlines Coronavirus Travel Updates
American is not limiting capacity but passengers may change seats after boarding is complete to achieve better distancing.

Delta Air Lines Travel Update Center
Delta is limiting capacity through January 6 to no more than 75% of seats on each aircraft. 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.

Frontier Committed to You
Frontier is not limiting capacity but is the only airline 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.

Southwest Airlines Steps to Ensure Your Safety
Through 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.

Sun Country Airlines Safety Updates
Sun Country is not limiting capacity but is blocking selection of middle seats during the reservations process. If needed, middle seats are assigned at the airport. Passengers who believe they cannot wear a face covering 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. 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.

TUS Temporary Operational Changes

As more passengers return to TUS some of the services in the terminal that had been closed or limited when passenger demand declined are reopening. There continues 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 the first departure in the morning-11 a.m., Sir Veza’s Taco Garage is open 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 is open 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 from 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:pen 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, 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 since March 19. Separate from the current situation, the CBP offices at TUS are moving during November. More information 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 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. 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 as they are required in the terminal and on all airlines. It’s also a good idea to bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitzer for yourself. (The TSA is temporarily allowing carry-on hand sanitzer 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 the current status of today’s flights at TUS here.

 

2. What should I know about booking flights?

Airlines are adjusting their schedules to reflect changing passenger demand. 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 now 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. Among them, carry-on items can temporarily include liquid hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces and food items in clear plastic bags. These items must be removed from other baggage and screened separately. Learn about more 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.

Frontier Airlines 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?

No. So far the impacts of measures instituted as a result of COVID-19 have had little impact on the time it takes to check-in and go through TSA security. Barring unforeseen or special circumstances, arriving 90 minutes ahead of departure at TUS should still be good. Please be aware passengers seeking waivers for face covering requirements should reach out in advance to their airline and will be required to arrive at the airport earlier than normal. Not all airlines offer waivers to the face covering requirement.

7. Do I have to quarantine after traveling?

Arizona currently does not require arriving passengers to quarantine. However, for passengers departing Tucson there are 11 destinations in the United States that have requirements that could include self-quarantine for 14 days. Instead of quarantine, five destinations accept proof of a negative COVID test.

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 the requirement exempts those on essential travel or those passing through to another destination (click on jurisdiction name for specific information):

The following jurisdictions no longer require self-quarantine 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.

8. Where can I have a test done to get the results fast enough to 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.

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

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