Don't dawdle getting to the airport: COVID spike forcing some TSA checkpoint closures

KiMi Robinson
Arizona Republic

Two of the four TSA checkpoints in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's busiest terminal will close indefinitely beginning Friday, Jan. 7. 

The closure is due to "the impacts of COVID on TSA personnel," according to a joint statement from the airport and the Transportation Security Administration on Jan. 6.

The B and D security checkpoints in Terminal 4 will close beginning at 4 a.m. Friday. No end date has been announced. The A and C checkpoints will remain open. Checkpoints in Terminal 3 are not affected.

Terminal 4 is home to American and Southwest airlines, the dominant carriers at Sky Harbor, as well as international carriers British Airways, WestJet and Volaris. More than 125,000 people arrive at and depart from the airport daily, according to Sky Harbor's website, and 78% of passengers travel through Terminal 4.

The TSA is "monitoring this closely," but so far staffing shortages have not caused checkpoint closures at other airports, according to spokesperson Carter Langston.

"Communities and transportation systems have been hard hit by increasing COVID infections, and we continue to encourage those who are ill to stay home and get tested," Langston said in an emailed statement. "The safety of our employees and the traveling public remains our top priority."

As of Thursday, about 5% of the TSA's workforce – nearly 3,300 employees – have active COVID-19 infections and are staying home from work.

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What the TSA checkpoint closure means for passengers 

Travelers who do not have TSA PreCheck can experience wait times of up to 30 minutes, according to the statement from the airport and TSA. Current wait times can be found at

According to the airport's website, "expedited screening is available during all operational hours." However, PreCheck is only available between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Terminal 4.

To reduce potential screening delays, travelers are encouraged to look through their bags for prohibited items before going to the airport. Additional travel tips can be found at

USA Today reporters Dawn Gilbertson and Bailey Schulz contributed to this story.

Reach the reporter at Follow her on Twitter @kimirobin and Instagram @ReporterKiMi.