22:51 PM

Relieved and ready to fly: Passengers return to TPA after Hurricane Ian passes

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Travelers returning to TPA on Friday were pleased to find their usual experiences at America’s Favorite Airport were already back in place after Hurricane Ian.

 Tampa International Airport had suspended operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday in anticipation of the storm’s arrival, ending commercial flights for two-and-a-half days while waiting out the storm. That affected passengers’ plans in a variety of ways, delaying travel for many until the Airport reopened at 10 a.m. Friday.

London-bound after a long week

TPA passenger christopher greenChristopher Green, a native of Manchester, England, who was staying at his vacation home in Tarpon Springs, said he missed a flight home to London by an hour on Tuesday. He was going back for two weeks to watch his daughter-in-law run in the London Marathon on Oct. 1.

 Green said he rode out the storm threat at his home and was able to get on a British Airways flight to London. He said he was whiling away the time before his flight shopping and wandering the terminal because “it’s actually quite nice here.”

A pleasant surprise

TPA passenger ford vilyphomeReopening a closed airport is no easy feat. Along with ensuring all TSA and FAA employees are in place to carry out the critical tasks of directing air traffic and screening passengers, TPA also aimed to open all shops and restaurants so passengers could enjoy the same amenities they had pre-storm.

 Soury Vilyphome said she was happy she was able to make her flight from Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday, when it had originally been scheduled. She and Samia Ford hadn’t noticed any difference in the Airport or the services offered as they waited for a ride back to their home in Lakeland.

 “You can’t even tell it had been closed at all,” she said.

Fans waiting for fair weather

TPA passenger sandy dale latshawSome passengers were delighted the Airport and region hadn’t been seriously damaged by Ian – even if the weather meant delays.

 Sandy and Dale Latshaw, from Lincoln, Nebraska, were in town to visit their adult children and to go to Raymond James Stadium to cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs as they played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Their flight, which they had scheduled as soon as the Chiefs’ schedule had come out, was pushed back a day by the closure.

 “It’s OK that we had to wait a little,” Sandy Latshaw said. “We’ve come here to visit family before. It’s not the first time we’ve been delayed by a hurricane.”