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Spring Break 2023 has arrived at TPA: What travelers should know

The Airport is expecting a record number of passengers during its busiest time of the year.

Using airline bookings and other predicting data, Tampa International Airport identified March 7 through April 10 as its official spring break season, the Airport’s busiest time of the year.

But if this past Sunday, Feb. 26, was any indication, the heavy traffic is ramping up sooner than expected.

“It appears spring break is already here,” TPA Vice President of Operations John Tiliacos said at the March 2 Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board Meeting. “This past Sunday, we had 84,000 passengers come through the Airport. That’s our third busiest day in the past three years.”

In fact, this spring break at TPA is expected to be its busiest on record, with a daily average of 76,000 passengers passing through the Airport, compared to 60,000 on a more typical day. On peak weekend days, the Airport could see more than 90,000 passengers.

TPA’s biggest tip? Get to the Airport early.

While TPA is known for being a quick and easy facility to navigate, spring break draws tens of thousands more people to its roadways, lines and parking garages. That can result in a frustrating or stressful experience for those who don’t leave themselves enough time to get to their gates. Officials recommend arriving at the Airport at least two hours before departure for domestic flights and three hours for international flights.

Here are some other tips to help make spring break travels go smoothly:

CHOOSE EXPRESS: Traveling with carry-on luggage only? The Blue Express Curbsides are an easy, breezy alternative to the regular Departures and Arrivals curbs and allow those who don’t need to stop at the Ticketing or Baggage Claim levels to get in and out of the Main Terminal more easily and quickly. Drivers can follow the signage to Express for a much less crowded drop-off and pick-up experience.

PLAN AHEAD FOR PARKING: TPA offers online booking for parking, which has discounted pricing on its Short Term, Long Term and Economy garages, some of which may reach capacity during peak days. Online bookings also help TPA anticipate demand and manage its garage space availability, making parking easier for everyone.

AVOID CIRCLING: Circling the roadways or lingering at the curbs is not allowed, so drivers picking up passengers should use the Cell Phone Waiting Lot, which has restrooms and free Wi-Fi, as well as info boards listing flight arrival times. Once a passenger is ready and at the curb, his or her driver can get there in a flash without adding unnecessary traffic to TPA’s roadways.

SKIP THE LINES: You already know you’re going to need a snack or a caffeine fix once you get to TPA. Why not order ahead and have your latte or burger waiting for you when you arrive? Customers can use TPA To Go, which is powered by Uber Eats and can be used directly in the Uber Eats app, or the Starbucks mobile app to order and pay, then swing by the counter and pick up the goods without standing in line.

For more information about Tampa International Airport, go to tampaairport.com

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