As Labor Day weekend approaches, TPA has tips for a stress-free travel experience
While September and October are among two of the slower months at TPA, the demand for air travel continues to grow across the globe, and particularly in the Tampa Bay region. Passenger numbers now meet or exceed pre-pandemic traffic on peak days, and during this Labor Day weekend, TPA will see approximately 340,000 passengers – a 1 percent increase over the same time last year.
As busier runways combined with the possibility of summer storms can sometimes cause operational hiccups for Florida airports, TPA aims to make the passenger experience as pleasant and smooth as possible. Here are some tips for those planning to take to the skies over Labor Day weekend.
PARK SMART: Tampa International Airport may experience a tight squeeze in its parking garages over the long weekend as various construction projects are underway. The Short Term Garage is expected to be the most impacted, and drivers may be directed to the Long Term or Economy garages during peak times.
To minimize impacts and save time, drivers picking up passengers should use the convenient Cell Phone Waiting Lot or the Blue Express Curbside Arrivals lanes. If parking and going inside the Main Terminal is preferred, the Long Term Parking garage offers up to one hour of free parking just like Short Term.
Tampa International Airport offers online booking for those planning to park at TPA during their trips, and reserving ahead not only helps TPA maximize its garage space for travelers, but it offers a discounted rate as well.
ARRIVE EARLY: While TPA is known for quick and easy security lines, peak busy days could throw a wrench in those expectations. Avoid the stress of nearly missing a flight – or worse, watching your plane back away as you’re running toward the gate – and plan to get to the Airport at least two hours before departure, or three hours for international flights. Enjoy any extra time relaxing, charging your phone, grabbing a snack or shopping for souvenirs.
Think you’ll arrive hungry? The Airport also offers TPA To Go on the Grab mobile app, allowing you to go straight to your gate area and have someone deliver your food, or skip the lines and pick up your order at the counter or restaurant without waiting.
SAIL THROUGH SECURITY: For anyone planning to travel more than once or twice a year, the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are your friends. According to TSA, 94 percent of PreCheck passengers nationwide wait less than five minutes at checkpoints, even during busy periods such as spring break. International passengers with Global Entry going through Customs can enjoy less paperwork and greatly reduced lines, a relief after a long-haul flight.
TPA also has Automated Passport Control Kiosks, and U.S. and Canadian citizens can download the Mobile Passport app for faster processing.
In any security screening lines, be sure to check all pockets and bags before leaving the house or hotel. Prohibited items such as sharp objects, large containers of liquids and certain food items can cause heavy snags at the checkpoints.
CHOOSE EXPRESS: For passengers traveling without checked luggage, TPA offers a streamlined drop-off and pick-up experience at the recently opened Blue Express Curbsides. Drivers can follow the road signs to Express Departures where the passengers can go straight up to the Transfer Level, or those wanting to bypass the baggage claim crowds can head down to the Express Arrivals curbs to wait for their rides.
For information about TPA, including flight status, ground transportation, restaurants, nonstop routes and more, go to www.tampaairport.com.