Holiday Travel Tips from Tucson International Airport
November 19, 2013 - Thanksgiving kicks off the 2013 holiday travel season when airline flights will be full, often with passengers carrying gifts and other items for friends and loved ones. The Tucson Airport Authority offers these tips for people using Tucson International Airport this time of year.
Typically, the busiest times of the day for departures at TIA are in the early morning hours until about 9 a.m. There are also spikes just before noon and mid- to late-afternoon. Passenger arrivals are busiest from 7 to about 10:30 p.m.
The 12-day high-volume travel days for this year's Thanksgiving holiday will be from Friday, Nov. 22, through Tuesday, Dec. 3. Thanksgiving Day is Nov. 28. The single busiest travel day is forecast to be Sunday, Dec. 1. The industry trade group Airlines for America is projecting the number of airline travelers that day will be nearly 50 percent higher than for an average day. The second busiest day should be Nov. 27 when 46.8 percent more travelers than average are expected to take to the air.
DECEMBER THROUGH NEW YEAR'S HOLIDAYS
Because the two major year-end holidays fall on Wednesdays this year, higher-volume travel days will be spread out more evenly during the period from Dec. 19 through Jan. 5, except that Saturdays and Sundays during that time are forecast to have more air travelers than other days.
WHAT'S NEW AT TUCSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Security: TSA PreCheck lanes are now operational on both the A and B concourses at TIA for expedited screening. The lanes are generally operational from 5 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. The lanes are available to PreCheck-qualified passengers through their airline frequent flier program, persons who've been qualified through U.S. Department of Homeland Security programs including Global Entry and SENTRI, active duty military personnel as well as passengers who've been randomly selected. As of Nov. 14, all airlines serving TIA are participating in the PreCheck program. Active duty U.S. military in uniform also qualify for the program.
Parking: It's easier and faster than ever to pay for parking at TIA with enhanced EasyPay. When entering a parking lot, instead of pressing the button for a ticket, insert a credit card. Your card is returned and the gate opens. Then when you exit, insert the SAME CREDIT CARD you used when entering and you'll receive a receipt and the gate will open to exit.
- No waiting at the pay station.
- No need for cash.
- No ticket to keep track of.
- Credit cards accepted are America Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover.
The system has been installed at the Hourly and Daily lots in front of the terminal building, at the parking garage adjacent to the Car Rental Building east of the terminal and the Economy Parking lots.
TIPS FOR TRAVELERS
- Passengers should follow the recommendations of their airline noting that lines can be longer during the holidays. Recently some airlines have increased the cut-off time by which passengers must be checked-in to at least 40 minutes of scheduled departure.
- While wait times at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at Tucson International Airport are shorter than at many other airports, during the holidays people will be carrying items that will slow down the process.
- Photo identification and boarding passes are required at check-in and at the TSA security checkpoints.
- Double check actual flight times on the day of travel. Passengers can do this by signing up for flight notification texts and emails through their airline's website.
- Baggage requirements vary by airline. In all cases, airlines will charge more for heavy and over-sized bags. Curbside bag check is available at TIA for American, Delta and Southwest airlines.
- Passengers needing assistance should make special arrangements in advance with their respective airline. All airlines at TIA provide this service.
- Parking operated by the Tucson Airport Authority is available to accommodate 8,200 vehicles. Popular choices for travelers who plan to be away for several days are the Daily lot in front of the terminal or Garage adjacent to the Rental Car Building east of the terminal, which $9 per day, the Economy Lot off East Corona Road (turn left off Tucson Boulevard as you approach the terminal area) is $4 per day and Economy Covered Parking, also off Corona Road, is $5 per day. A courtesy shuttle operates 24/7 between the Economy Lots and the terminal. In addition to the enhanced EasyPay option that's new, parking lot customers can choose to use the automated pay stations outside the TIA terminal baggage claim areas and near the elevators in the parking garage.
- Several food and beverage options are available to outbound passengers after they've cleared the security checkpoints. On the A Concourse (American and Southwest airlines) options include the Arizona Sports Grill, Ike's Coffee Bar, Taco Bron, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Boar's Head Deli and Cibo Express Gourmet Market (pre-packaged grab-and-go food items. One the B Concourse (Alaska, Delta, United and US Airways) there is Sky Asian Bistro, Ike's Coffee Bar, Carmella's Kitchen pizzas and calzones, Boar's Head Deli and Cibo Express.
- Paradies Desert News and Gifts operates stores on both concourses. There is also a separate PGA Golf Shop on the A Concourse.
- Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the terminal.
TIPS FOR PICKING UP FRIENDS AND FAMILY
- Double-check real time flight arrival times through the www.flytucson.com website, which can also be accessed by mobile devices.
- A Cell Phone Waiting Lot with free parking for people waiting in their vehicles for arriving passengers is off Airport Drive. It's a right turn just before reaching the main terminal.
- The Hourly Parking Lot can be accessed from the left lanes as vehicles approach the terminal complex. The rate is $1 per half hour to a maximum of $12 per day. (Save time using the new EasyPay system mentioned under "What's New.")
- Relax in Welcome Lounges in the baggage claim where video monitors display the locations of inbound flights.
- Enjoy artworks exhibits, including these special temporary showings from local artists: "Portable Monsoon," a series by painter Ingrid Williams, in Upper Link Gallery, East End of the Ticketing Level.
- A juried show of Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona members is up in the Main Gallery in the center of the ticket level, between Delta and Southwest airlines.
- Photographer Cy Lehrer is showing works for four distinctively different series in the Lower Link Gallery, at the east end of the Baggage Claim Level adjacent to the moving sidewalk to the Car Rental Building.
- "CONSTRUCT: Putting It Together," a sampling of works metal, paper, wood, ceramics, photography jewelry, fibers and found objects featured in the current show at Pima Community College's Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, is up in the Baggage Claim area near Concourse A.
- Oil paintings by Kathleen Lewis, including some from her "Falling Leaves" series, are up along the pathway to security checkpoint area of Concourse B.
- Live at TIA! featuring performances by local musicians will be offered many evening near the Welcome Lounges in the Baggage Claim area and in December there will be additional concerts throughout the terminal building.
- If you're hungry, grab a bite at one of the Ike's Coffee Bars in the baggage claim area or, if it's before 6 p.m. head up to Jet Rock Grill and Bar on the third floor.
- Paradies Desert News and Gift retail stores are located near the entrances to each of the two concourses.
Tucson International Airport is served by six airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, United and US Airways. Non-stop service is available to 15 airports: Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare and Midway airports, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle/Tacoma.
About Tucson International Airport
Tucson International Airport (TIA) serves the community with commercial, military, cargo and general aviation operations that generate $3.2 billion annually in economic impact, support 35,000 jobs, enhance the region's business climate and improve quality of life for Southern Arizonans. TIA began as the nation's first commercial airport and has continually evolved to meet its users' needs for safety, efficiency and service. No local tax dollars are used in the airport's operation and maintenance. flytucson.com
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