04:17 AM

Passenger numbers soar as TPA prepares for a busy 2022 spring break season

Tampa International Airport’s official spring break travel season begins this upcoming weekend, and if recent passenger numbers are any indication, this could be among the busiest on record.

Over the past several days, TPA has seen passenger counts that exceed those compared to the same dates in 2019, some by as much as 29 percent. The 2022 spring break period, which runs through April 26, will see peak days that reach nearly 88,000 passengers and many that will exceed 80,000 – a very strong comparison to 2019 spring break, which beat all prior Airport records. Last year’s spring break saw about 65,000 passengers per day during peak times, and in 2020, the numbers were dismally low in March and April.

The marked rise in passengers over the past few weeks reflects the rapidly returning demand for travel combined with a lessened fear as COVID-19 cases drop sharply around the globe. Many countries have loosened restrictions and testing protocols, particularly for vaccinated travelers, and more tourist attractions and destinations have comfortably reopened with safety measures in place.

TPA is also seeing some of its international traffic return after British Airways resumed nonstop flights to London in November and Eurowings Discover launched flights to Frankfurt in December. This week, Edelweiss Air will resume its twice-weekly service between Tampa and Zurich. TPA also has nonstop service to Panama, Cuba, Mexico, Canada, Grand Cayman and the Bahamas.

Many travelers will be flying through TPA for the first time in several months or longer, and TPA’s Guest Experience and Operations teams are preparing to help with the influx of both new and returning passengers this season.

Here are some key tips to ensuring a smooth travel experience during the busy spring break rush:

·       Book your parking in advance: TPA has an easy-to-use online booking system that not only guarantees you a spot when you arrive at your garage of choice, but it saves you money, too. It also helps the Airport anticipate parking needs during peak times, making it easier to direct vehicles where they need to go and reduce spot-hunting time for drivers.

·       Follow the latest TSA mask guidance: For now, and at least until March 18, that means you must continue to wear face coverings while inside airports and commercial aircraft, regardless of the CDC’s recent amendment to the mask order which applies to other indoor spaces.

·       Choose Express if you’re not checking luggage: TPA’s Blue Express Curbsides have been open since November, creating a quick and streamlined route for both arriving and departing passengers who don’t need to check bags or stop through Baggage Claim. Follow the signage and enjoy the new, less congested pick-up and drop-off curbs.  

·       Take advantage of touchless options: Each shuttle entrance now has an “e-gate” where you simply scan your mobile or paper boarding device, eliminating the need to press kiosk buttons or pass paper back and forth at Ticketing. Those wanting to dine right at their gates can also download the Grab app and use TPA To Go, a mobile food ordering system that allows you to order a meal from any Airport restaurant and either pick it up without standing in line or have it delivered.

·       Arrive early: During busy travel periods such as holidays and spring break, it’s always a good idea to give yourself an extra hour or two to avoid rushing or stressing. TPA recommends arriving at the Airport at least two hours before departure time, and three if you’re flying internationally. If you’re lucky enough to arrive with lots of time to spare, do a little shopping or see how many public art pieces you can find throughout the Main Terminal and other spaces.