Holiday travel tips from Tucson International Airport

Holiday travel tips from Tucson International Airport
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - More than 13,000 passengers are expected to travel through the Tucson International Airport during on a typical day during the holiday season.

Unlike the Thanksgiving weekend when passenger traffic spiked by as much as 25 percent on the Sunday following the holiday, during December and early January passenger traffic is more spread out. The busiest days are expected to be December 21, 22, 23 and 26-29 and January 2. The 13,000 passengers a day expected, is 10 to 12 percent above average.

TIA is offering a few tips to help make traveling during the holidays easier:

Getting To the Airport:
  • Check Flight Status. Before you leave for the airport check the status of your flight at www.flyTucson.com or your airline’s website.
  • Be early. The usual recommendation is to be at the airport at least 90 minutes ahead of scheduled flight departure. That’s the minimum this time of year. That may seem silly for TUS but it gives you some leeway in case something doesn’t go as planned. On most days, the airport is busiest for departures before 9 a.m. and from noon to 2:30 p.m. Most airlines stop checking bags 45 minutes before departure. Also passengers traveling internationally should know airlines restrict the amount of baggage at this time of year on flights into Mexico and the Caribbean.
  • Parking. The Tucson Airport Authority has more than 7,500 parking spaces but at this time of year spaces can get scarce in some lots. You can check availability under ‘Parking’ on the www.flyTucson.com website. Complimentary shuttles run 24/7 to/from the Economy Parking lots.
  • Solar Covered Parking. Solar canopies have been installed over the entire Daily and Hourly lots in front of the terminal. Aside from the benefits of generating power for the terminal and providing shade over spaces, this means that construction detours are no longer in effect.
  • Besides driving. If you don’t want to drive to the airport, other options include taxis, Lyft and Uber or a shuttle. Information can be found on www.flyTucson.com website under ‘Parking & Transportation tab.
Going Through Security:
  • They’ve moved! At TUS, the TSA security checkpoints have moved in recent months. Passengers departing on Southwest, Sun Country and United airlines enter the A gates from the east end of the terminal (next to the United check-in counter) and passengers departing on Alaska, American and Delta airlines enter the B gates from the west end of the terminal (next to the American check-in counter).
  • Carry-on Electronics. As of October, the TSA requires all carry-on electronics larger than a cell phone be removed from their cases and placed separately in bins for screening. (This does not apply to passengers using TSAPre?® when those lanes are open.)
  • Wrapped Gifts. Unless you are absolutely certain they won’t require further screening inspection, it is best not to wrap gifts before traveling. Technically, the TSA says wrapped gifts are permitted but they may need to be unwrapped if further screening is required.
  • What Can I Bring? If you have any questions about whether an item can go through security, the TSA has answers at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring
Tips for traveling with holiday packages: 

It's holiday time and you want to bring gifts with you to hand out upon your arrival. We understand. What we hope that you understand is that if your wrapped gift triggers an alarm, the gift might need to be unwrapped for TSA officers to resolve the alarm. So instead of wrapping a gift, please consider using a gift bag or a gift box so that resolving the alarm will just mean removing the item from the gift bag or gift box without needing to unwrap it. Or, consider wrapping the gift upon your arrival.

Snow globes are popular holiday gifts at this time of year. If you're traveling with a snow globe, it needs to contain 3.4 liquid ounces or less to comply with the 3-1-1 liquids bag rule. If it is a larger snow globe, please pack it in your checked bag. If you are unsure if the snow globe contains 3.4 ounces of liquid or more, the rule of thumb is that if it is smaller than a tennis ball, it is probably 3.4 ounces or less.

If you've spent time baking your favorite Christmas cookies, fruitcake, pie or other holiday treats, you can bring these sweets and other food items with you when you fly. If the food item is a solid (i.e.: ham,  turkey, cake, pie, cookies), then you can pack it in your carry-on bag. If the food item is spreadable or pourable, then it must be 3.4 liquid ounces or less to comply with the 3-1-1 liquids bag rule to travel in your carry-on bag. If it has more than 3.4 liquid ounces, then you should pack it in a tightly sealed container in your checked bag. If you're unsure if your food item should go in a checked bag, consider this: If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then please pack it in your checked bag.

What’s New at the Airport:
  • Security Checkpoints. As already noted, they’ve moved. They’re now at the far east and west ends of the ticketing level. Enter the A gates for Southwest, Sun Country and United airlines at the east end. Enter B gates for Alaska, American and Delta airlines at the west end.
  • Food and Drink. New concessions are being added but they’re not finished yet. Sir Veza’s Kitchen & Kantina and Beyond Bread are open for passengers departing from the A gates. Temporary facilities including a coffee bar, Mixta Kitchen and units selling prepackaged grab-and-go items are available for passengers departing from the B gates.
  • Water Filling Stations. Passengers can now refill their empty water bottles at refilling stations that have been installed on each concourse. They are located near the restrooms and allow easy access for passengers to fill water bottles after they have gone through security.
  • Meeting Arriving Visitors
  • Enjoy Noble Hops.  If you’re coming to the airport to meet arriving passengers, you might think about coming early and enjoying the fare and drink at the new Noble Hops on the ticketing level, 2nd floor. Get your parking ticket validated for up to 2 hours of free parking in the Hourly lot with a minimum $15 purchase.
  • Arrivals Lounges.  Meet arriving passengers at lounges in Baggage Claim on the lower level.  One lounge is located at the foot of escalators coming down from the A concourse for passengers arriving on Southwest, Sun Country and United airlines. Another lounge is located at the foot of escalators coming down from the B concourse for passengers arriving on Alaska, American and Delta airlines.
  • Have some coffee or tea at Arbuckle’s. If you’re in the Baggage Claim area, you’ll find Arbuckle’s Coffee. Enjoy some fresh brewed coffee or a specialty drink while you wait for loved ones.
  • Cell Phone Waiting Parking. Security regulations prohibit parking at the curb outside Baggage Claim, so a Cell Phone Waiting Lot is available to the right off Airport Drive as you approach the terminal. Parking here is free as long as the driver remains with the vehicle. Please have the arriving passenger claim their baggage before calling you for a ride as stopping can only be permitted for the active loading of a vehicle.

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