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Tucson International Airport Tucson Airport Authority Ryan Airfield

COVID Travel Questions Answered

Updated March 3, 2021

COVID-19 is changing the way we travel. With new questions popping up almost daily, this page is intended to provide answers to recent changes that may affect your travel through Tucson International Airport (TUS).

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

No, there is no requirement for a healthy person arriving in Tucson on a domestic flight to produce test results and passengers coming into the United States on international flights must present their documentation before departing so nothing more needs to be provided upon arrival at TUS. (The Arizona Office of Tourism updates information here.) For peace of mind, arriving passengers can voluntarily take a free COVID-19 test immediately after landing at Tucson International Airport. (Learn more here.)

2. Do I need a COVID test to fly out from Tucson?

That depends on where you’re going and, in some cases, whether you are “fully vaccinated,” which is defined as 14 days after receiving the prescribed number of doses for the vaccine you have taken. The following domestic destinations require proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test (click on jurisdiction for details): Chicago, Connecticut, Hawaii with different requirements for Kauai, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pitkin County, Colorado (Aspen and Snowmass) and Washington, D.C. Passengers arriving in Chicago are not required to have a negative COVID test result if they can show they are fully vaccinated.

The COVID test requirement for arrivals in Pennsylvania was rescinded March 1, 2021, Rhode Island removed the requirement for arrivals from Arizona as of February 22, 2021, and the Alaska requirement expired February 14, 2021.

For international travel, the U.S. Department of State has information here.

3. Will I have to quarantine after arriving in Tucson?

No, Arizona does not have a mandatory quarantine requirement for arriving passengers. (The Arizona Office of Tourism has updated information here.)

4. Will I have to quarantine if I fly somewhere from Tucson?

The only mandatory quarantine requirement for travelers still in effect in the United States is for arrivals in Vermont and it does not apply to individuals who show they are fully vaccinated. Be aware there are jurisdictions that mandate a quarantine period for passengers who do not meet requirements to avoid it as described in the answer to question 2 above.

The most recent jurisdictions to lift quarantine requirements are San Francisco as of February 23, 2021, and Santa Clara County (San Jose), California, as of March 3, 2021.

5. I've been vaccinated, do COVID tests and quarantine restrictions still apply to me?

So far only Chicago and Vermont have established that arrivals who can show they are fully vaccinated are exempt from their mandates. International arrivals into the United States must continue to follow the requirements described in the answer to question 8, below.


6. Where can I have a COVID test done and get the results in time to travel?

First, it’s important that it be what’s called a molecular, viral, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) taken within 72 hours of arrival. Not all so-called rapid tests are such tests. The free tests being administered at Tucson International Airport are PCR tests. For most 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. Make an appointment here. Your health care provider may also be able to help. Be aware Hawaii accepts results only from labs it has partnered with, which include Costco, CVS Health and Walgreens but not the free sites run by Pima County or the State of Arizona.

7. Are the COVID-19 tests at TUS good for Hawaii?

No, while the free test given by Paradigm Labs is a PCR test and approved by CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments), Hawaii state officials have not included them as a partner. A fee is usually associated with the tests to satisfy Hawaii’s regulations. Costco, CVS Health and Walgreens offer COVID-19 tests that are approved by Hawaii.

8. I'm a U.S. citizen returning home on an international flight, what do I need to do?

As of January 26, 2021, all passengers ages 2 and older on international flights entering the United States must present a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of the day of departure or have proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. This includes U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents. Airlines are required by U.S. law to deny boarding to any passenger who cannot furnish the documentation at the point of departure for the international flight. Arizona has no additional mandates so nothing more needs to be provided upon arrival at TUS.

The U.S. Department of State has information here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has answers to questions on the requirement here.

9. I've been vaccinated, do I still have to wear a face mask on my flight and in the airport?

Yes, the federal order that went into effect. February 2, 2021, applies to all persons ages 2 and above.

10. I cannot wear a face mask, how do I get an exemption?

Reach out to your airline well in advance of your flight as documentation may need to be submitted several days before flight time and you may also have to take a pre-travel COVID-19 test. The federal requirement that took effect February 2, 2021, has a narrow exception for persons who cannot wear a mask for reasons related to a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If approved, proper documentation must be brought to the airport for travel. The requirement to wear a compliant face covering applies to all passengers ages 2 and older at all airports and on all airlines in the United States. Not all airlines have established procedures for face mask exemptions.

11. What would be a "non-compliant" face mask?

Non-compliant face coverings include scarves, balaclavas, bandannas, turtlenecks or other collars pulled up over the nose and mouth, masks made of materials with large holes that let light shine through such as mesh or lace, some neck gaiters and any mask with an exhalation valve or contains punctures. Face shields can be worn as an addition to a compliant face mask. Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel may be used to facilitate communication with people who need to see a speaker’s mouth to understand speech.

12. What should I know about booking a flight?

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

13. 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. Alaska, American, Delta and United airlines have permanently eliminated them on tickets for both domestic and international travel. (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, 2021, 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:

Alaska Airlines
Allegiant Air
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Frontier Airlines
Southwest Airlines
Sun Country Airlines
United Airlines

14. 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. (It is still possible to check-in at the airport, if necessary.) Bring and wear a cloth face covering in the terminal and on your flights. (As of February 2, 2021, it is federal law.) 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.

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

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

16. Are there health screenings for passengers at the airport?

Not at the present time. Tucson Airport Authority Emergency Medical Technicians have been trained and provided with specific guidance on COVID-19 and are prepared to respond to emergencies. 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. Those with a temperature reading below 100.4° Fahrenheit are allowed to board.

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

No, in most cases that isn’t necessary. Barring unforeseen circumstances or special requirements, arriving at TUS 90 minutes ahead of departure should still be good.

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

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 state-by-state requirements for U.S. domestic travel and country-by-country information for international travel. The link is here.

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