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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 – August 2, 2020

  • Future airline schedule summaries are updated for American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United. (Learn more: TUS Airlines Schedules.)
  • American, Delta, Southwest and United airlines require all passengers, except those who are under 2 years of age, to wear a face covering. (More: Airline Health Safety Protocols.)
  • Some food and retail concessions have reopened in the terminal: Beyond Bread is now open on both the A and B concourses, Bruegger’s Bagels and Ink media store are open on the B concourse and Arroyo Trading Post has reopened pre-security on the ticketing level. (Learn more about the airport’s food and retail shops 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

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.

The Tucson Airport Authority’s face covering requirement conforms with similar measures taken by airlines that require passengers and flight crew members to wear face coverings and government orders by Pima County and the city of Tucson that require they be worn in public. The TAA executive order applies to all TUS public facilities, including the airport’s main passenger terminal, the C gates building, the Rental Car Center and TAA parking facilities, including the shuttles and exit booth lanes. Read the news release here. Read the executive order here. For those arriving at the airport without one, face masks are available for sale in the Arroyo Trading Post on the ticketing level. The airport and airlines also have them for passengers.


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:

  • 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.
  • New signage and markers for 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 and some flights have been suspended. 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 – Nonstop flights are scheduled to resume October 8.
  • Seattle – Reduced to 1 flight per day.

Allegiant Air

  • Bellingham, Washington – Flights are suspended.
  • Indianapolis – Flights are suspended.
  • Las Vegas – Fridays and Sundays through August 16.
  • Provo – Mondays and Fridays through August 17.

American Airlines

  • Chicago O’Hare – Thursdays-Sundays, resumes September 10.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth – Reduced to 5 flights on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 4 flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Los Angeles – Scheduled to resume October 7.
  • Phoenix – Reduced to 3 flights per day.

Delta Air Lines

  • Atlanta – Reduced to 1 flight per day.
  • Los Angeles – Reduced to 1 flight per day.
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – Scheduled to resume November 1.
  • Salt Lake City – 3 flights per day.
  • Seattle – Nonstop flights are suspended.

Frontier Airlines

  • Denver – Weekly flights on Saturdays through October 3.

Southwest Airlines

  • Chicago Midway – 1 flight per per day; suspended September 7-October 6.
  • Denver – 3 flights per day; reduced to 2 flights per day, September 7-October 6..
  • Las Vegas – 3 flights on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays; reduced to 2 flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; reduced to 2 flights each day September 7-October 6.
  • Los Angeles – Reduced to 1 flight per day; suspended September 7-October 6.
  • San Diego – 2 flights Mondays-Fridays, 1 flight Saturdays and 3 flights Sundays; resumes October 8.
  • San Jose – Sundays; resumes October 11.

Sun Country Airlines

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – Flights are scheduled to resume December 17 on Thursdays and Sundays, plus Tuesdays, December 22 and 29.

United Airlines

  • Chicago O’Hare – Nonstop flights scheduled to resume October 1.
  • Denver – Reduced to 2 flights per day, further reduced to 1 flight per day effective August 3, resumes 2 flights per day September 8.
  • Houston – Reduced to 1 flight per day.
  • 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 cleaning and fogging procedures and disinfecting cabins and key touch points – like tray tables, arm rests, seatbelts, buttons, vents, handles and lavatories.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that because of how air circulates and is filtered using 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.)

American, Delta, Southwest and United airlines have added stricter measures requiring all adult passengers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth.

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.

The following is a rundown of the protocols implemented by the airlines at TUS (click on airline name to learn more):

Alaska Airlines Travel Safety From Masks to Cleaning
Alaska Is limiting ticket sales and blocking seats on flights through September 30. Families who wish to be seated together using blocked seats can request to do so. Face coverings are required for passengers over the age of 12. Those who refuse to comply 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. Passengers may request to be notified if their flight exceeds 65% capacity so they can evaluate alternate travel options. Upon boarding, passengers are offered a personal safety kit that includes a single-use face mask and sanitizing wipes. It is mandatory to wear a face mask. Passengers are also required to complete a health check form at check-in.

American Airlines Coronavirus Travel Updates
American is not limiting capacity but, through September 30, passengers may change flights at no additional charge if their original flight has passengers checked in to 70% or more capacity. Passengers may also change seats after boarding is complete to achieve better distancing. American requires all passengers, except those under 2, to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth from the time they enter the airport, through their entire flight and until they leave the airport at their destination. For the safety of all passengers, there are no longer exemptions for passengers who say they cannot wear a face covering. Passengers are also required to complete a coronavirus symptom checklist at check-in.

Delta Air Lines Travel Update Center
Delta is limiting capacity to 60% of the main cabin and 50% of first class on flights through September 30. Middle seats are blocked on larger aircraft and some aisle seats are blocked on smaller aircraft. Wearing a cloth face covering is required (plastic face shields and masks with an exhaust valve are not acceptable substitutes). 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 private “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. Children under the age of 2 and unaccompanied minors remain exempt from the face mask requirement.

Frontier Committed to You
On flights through August 31, Frontier Is blocking middle seats up to 12% of aircraft capacity and making the adjacent seats available for purchase. Face coverings are required to be worn except by small children. Frontier also requires passengers to complete a health acknowledgement form and conducts temperature checks of passengers and crew members. Only those with a temperature reading below 100.4° Fahrenheit are allowed to board.

Southwest Airlines Steps to Ensure Your Safety
Through at least October, Southwest is limiting the number of tickets sold on each flight to allow for the middle seat to remain open. It is still maintaining its open seating policy and will allow families traveling together to use the middle seat. Southwest requires passengers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth and cannot accommodate those who are unable to wear one. The only exemption is for children under the age of 2. At check-in 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 reservations. It is possible for middle seats to be assigned at the airport. Families traveling together who wish to use a middle seat may request to do so. 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.

United Airlines What We’re Doing to Keep Customers and Employees Safe
United is not limiting capacity, but has taken a firm stand requiring passengers to complete a “Ready to Fly” health checklist and wear a face covering. United requires the face covering be worn from the time the passenger enters 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. An exemption remains in effect for children under 2 years old.

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 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. and Sir Veza’s Taco Garage opens 90 minutes before the first departure of the morning and closes with the final departure of the day.
    • 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 12 noon and El Charro Café is open 6 a.m.-final departure.
    • 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 6 a.m.-6 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 5:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Learn more here.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Global Entry Enrollment Center at TUS will remain closed until at least 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.
  • Face coverings worn over the nose and mouth are required by anyone entering the TUS terminal. This includes the main passenger terminal, the C gates building, the Rental Car Center and TAA parking facilities, including the shuttles and exit booth lanes. The executive order will be effective until further notice. Read the news release here. Read the executive order 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.

TUS Travel FAQs For COVID-19

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 (they are required in the airport and on your flight). 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.

 

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.

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

Airlines at TUS that normally charge a fee to change a reservation have temporarily relaxed the rules on new purchases of non-refundable discount tickets allowing you to change your plans and apply the value to a future flight. Passengers pay the difference if the future flight has a higher fare. Specifics differ among airlines and apply only to tickets purchased directly from the airline providing the service. Tickets purchased through a third party, such as an online travel service, a travel agent or another airline may have different fee policies. In all cases, passengers must notify airlines before the date of the original flight.

Below are the temporary change policies currently in effect for the airlines at TUS. Other waivers may apply for tickets purchased before July 1. (Click on the airline name to read more about its policies):

  • Alaska Airlines – Most new tickets purchased by September 8 for travel through August 8, 2021, can be changed or cancelled at no fee with the value applied for a ticket on a future flight within one year of the original travel date. Tickets purchased using Super Saver fares cannot be changed but the reservation can be cancelled to receive a credit certificate that can be used on a future flight.
  • Allegiant Air – No fee for a one-time change on the purchase of new tickets with the value applied to another flight within one year of the date of original purchase.
  • American Airlines – Change fees are waived on tickets purchased for all summer flights scheduled through September 30, 2020. Change fees will also be waived for new bookings made through September 8. In either case, the new flight must be completed by December 31, 2021.
  • Delta Air Lines – New tickets purchased through August 31 can be changed or cancelled with no fee and the value applied to another flight within two years from the original purchase date.
  • Frontier Airlines – Frontier’s regular policy allows for free changes made 60 or more days prior to departure. There is a $79 fee for changes made 14-59 days prior to departure and a $119 fee for changes made 13 days or less prior to departure, including same-day changes. Another option at Frontier is to buy a bundled package called “The Works.” It must be purchased as part of the initial booking and includes both a checked bag and a carry-on bag, seat selection, priority boarding, flexibility to change flights as well as the ability to get a refund if you cancel.
  • Southwest Airlines – Does not charge change fees and offers credit for flights changed or cancelled at least 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure. Credits for flights originally planned for March 1-September 7, 2020, are good through September 7, 2022.
  • United Airlines – New tickets purchased through August 31 can be cancelled or changed without a fee with the credit applied to a future flight up to 12 months from the date the original ticket was issued. United is not issuing additional credits if the new fare is lower than the original ticket.

What happens if there's a travel restriction put in effect after I buy my ticket?

If a travel advisory is issued after you purchase your ticket – and it could be for other reasons, such as weather – airlines will make accommodations to allow changes. To see each airline’s current travel advisories, click on the airline name under TUS Airlines Schedules.

What if I want a refund on my airline ticket?

While airlines are waiving change fees, the non-refundable part of discounted non-refundable fares has not changed. However, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rules say if an airline cancels a flight and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund back to your original form of payment for the unused transportation, even on non-refundable tickets. You are also entitled to a refund for fees paid for such things as checked baggage and seat assignments.

On April 3, the DOT issued an enforcement notice (read it here) reminding airlines they need to refund passengers in the event that their flights are cancelled or there are significant schedule changes that are unacceptable to the passenger. The DOT noted that because this is an unprecedented situation, it will exercise enforcement discretion, and will give airlines the opportunity to become compliant before taking further action. On May 12, the DOT issued a second notice to airlines, along with answers to specific questions. Read the notice here.

In most cases if an airline can still get you to your destination without a significant delay, as defined in its Contract of Carriage you would not qualify for a refund.

The bottom line is, if you want the peace of mind that you will get a refund if you choose to cancel your trip for any reason, buy a non-discounted refundable fare but those tickets can be expensive.

Is TSA doing anything differently at the security checkpoints?

Yes, there are several changes. For passengers, 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.

Should I wear a face mask at the airport?

Yes. Not only is it a requirement when in public throughout Pima County and in the city of Tucson, it’s a requirement in the airport and on the airlines. Also, be aware that some airlines no longer exempt adults with a health condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing “simple cloth face coverings” for situations where social distancing of 6 feet is difficult to maintain after finding that “a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (are asymptomatic) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can transmit the virus to others.” In other words, any of us could be unknown carriers of COVID-19 and wearing a face covering helps prevent us from transmitting it to others. Maintaining safe distances is the most important safeguard but when that is not possible you can take some comfort if others around you are wearing face coverings because they are protecting you and your face mask protects others.

If you arrive at the airport without one, face masks are available for sale in the Arroyo Trading Post retail shop on the ticketing level, pre-security. It is open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Airport and airline personnel also have them for passengers.

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.

There is considerable debate over conducting temperature checks of passengers. The CDC says temperature screenings at airports were ineffective in the early months of COVID-19’s spread into the United States when the agency conducted checks of more than 30,000 individuals at 11 airports but failed to detect a single case of the virus. Airlines, however, are supporting a proposal for the TSA to administer temperature checks. This is an evolving situation and could change.

At TUS, Frontier Airlines has implemented its own 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.

Should I arrive earlier than normal for my flight?

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. However, some airlines may advise certain passengers to arrive earlier than normal to comply with certain procedures. Otherwise, barring unforeseen circumstances, arriving 90 minutes ahead of departure at TUS should still be good.

Are there any travel restrictions on flights coming or going from Tucson?

No, there are no travel restrictions to or from any nonstop destination served by airlines at TUS. There are, however, restrictions on international travelers returning to the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information here.

Do I have to quarantine after traveling?

Arizona currently does not require arriving passengers to quarantine themselves. However, other states have issued mandatory quarantine requirements including some that specifically require it of people arriving from Arizona. As of July 28, Kansas has removed its quarantine requirement for travelers from Arizona.

States requiring self-quarantine for arrivals from Arizona are (click on state for specifics): Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. States requiring all arriving passengers to self-quarantine are: Alaska (arriving passengers can present a negative result from a test taken 72 hours to 5 days before arrival as an alternative to quarantine), Hawaii (as of September 1 arrivals will be able to forego the quarantine by providing proof of a negative result from a test taken no more than 72 hours prior to the flight), Maine (visitors with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival can avoid quarantine), Massachusetts, New HampshireNew Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Two U.S. cities have also imposed quarantine orders. One is Chicago, where it is in effect only inside the city limits and does not apply to passengers making connections at Midway or O’Hare airports. The other is Washington, D.C., where it does not apply to people doing essential business, including government business activities.

Aside from quarantine orders, travelers should check for other local restrictions that may limit activities at their destination.

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