Blue Express Curbsides make holiday travel easier at TPA
Passengers have embraced the innovative concept, which is celebrating one year of helping people move through the Main Terminal quickly and efficiently.
With the 2022 holiday travel season in full swing, Tampa International Airport’s innovative Blue Express Curbsides are offering guests a fast and easy option for getting in and out of the Main Terminal.
The cutting-edge concept, the first of its kind in a U.S. airport and an integral element in Phase 2 of TPA’s Master Plan, last week celebrated one year since its opening in November 2021.
The innovative lanes are designed to alleviate congestion and make traveling easier for passengers who aren’t checking bags and have already gotten their electronic boarding passes on their mobile devices.
About half of TPA’s travelers don’t check luggage on their flights, making the Express lanes ideal if those passengers are being dropped off or picked up at the Main Terminal by friends or family, a taxi or a rideshare vehicle.
Using the Express lanes keeps those vehicles and passengers out of the main loading and unloading lanes and allows those passengers to bypass the ticketing and the baggage claim levels.
“The Blue Side Express Curbsides are a groundbreaking concept that follows the Airport’s tradition of being an industry leader in design and convenience,” TPA Vice President of Planning and Development Jeff Siddle said. “These express lanes offer travelers an even easier way to navigate our Main Terminal and get to their flight quickly and safely, without having to visit areas they aren’t going to use.”
Many passengers have embraced the lanes, which have gained momentum over the last year. Almost 30 percent of departures and more than 20 percent of arrivals for Blue Side airlines now use the Blue Express Curbsides on their way into and out of the Main Terminal.
The concept won the Florida Airports Council’s J. Bryan Cooper Award in the Vision category for its innovative design, and was twice awarded the title of Project of the Year – by both the trade publication Engineering News-Record Southeast and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Travelers using Red Side airlines will also enjoy the benefits of express in a few years. The Airport is currently working to add eight more lanes on the other side of the Main Terminal. Construction on the Red Express Curbsides began in September and is part of a series of projects that will further expand space and accessibility for travelers.
Hensel Phelps and HNTB, the same design-builder of the Blue Express Curbsides, is also helping bring the Red Express Curbsides to life.
The $102.9 million plan includes demolishing the Airport’s old Administration Building on the north side of the Main Terminal and replacing it with the new Red Express lanes. Work will start on the entrance and exit bridges for the new Red Express Curbsides during the Administration Building’s removal.
A traffic shift to new bypass lanes will affect Red Side Arrivals after Thanksgiving, but aside from some temporary parking garage changes, much of the construction won’t be very visible to travelers over the next few weeks.
“There will be some minor adjustments in traffic patterns while crews are working,” Senior Manager of Construction Dan Seeley said. “Traffic-control devices will be in place to allow workers, equipment and material to get where they need to be, but the impact should be minimal over the holidays.”
When the Red Express Curbsides project is complete in Summer 2025, visitors can expect an expanded transfer level, with a larger walkway to the Airport Marriott, space for shops and the shuttle station for the forthcoming Airside D, the first new airside terminal at TPA in almost 20 years.
To learn more about the TPA’s Master Plan, which includes the Express Curbsides project, go to: https://www.tampaairport.com/MasterPlan