17:20 PM

Summer 2023 travel season is looking hot: What TPA travelers should know

From Memorial Day weekend to mid-August, Tampa International Airport expects a record-breaking summer this year.

As the temperatures rise and Memorial Day weekend approaches, Tampa International Airport is gearing up for what officials predict will be its busiest summer yet. While exact day-by-day projections are hard to pinpoint over the summer months, airlines have added extra routes and seat capacity for anticipated high demand, TSA is reporting record passenger volumes nationwide and AAA is projecting a 7 percent increase in Memorial Day weekend travel compared to 2022. 

TPA expects to see an average of approximately 70,000 passengers per day, with as many as 90,000 passengers on its busiest days, which are typically Saturdays and Sundays. So far this year, the Airport has seen nearly 5 percent more passengers compared to the same year-to-date period in 2019.

As always during anticipated busy periods, passengers should plan to arrive at the Airport at least two hours before domestic flight departures and three hours before international departures to ensure plenty of time to park, check in, clear the security checkpoint and grab any last-minute snacks or items before boarding.

Here are some other tips to help make summer travels go smoothly at TPA:

CHOOSE EXPRESS: Want even faster drop-off and pick-up? The innovative Blue Express Curbsides are an easy, breezy alternative to the regular Departures and Arrivals lanes, particularly for those who don’t need to stop at the Ticketing or Baggage Claim levels to get in and out of the Main Terminal. 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.

CHECK THE WEATHER: It's summer in Florida, which means pop-up thunderstorms and lightning happen almost daily. Fortunately, most storms are brief and cause only short pauses in flight schedules, but it's always best to be aware of the weather forecast and check with your airline ahead of time to ensure your flight is still departing on time. Keep in mind that early morning flights typically have a better chance of staying on schedule.

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.

LEAVE YOUR FURRY FRIENDS AT HOME: Aside from pets that are traveling or providing a service, animals are not allowed at TPA. Those traveling with pets must keep them in a carrier or on a short leash while inside the terminals for the safety of other guests and pets. For more information on airline policies and TPA's pet relief areas, go here.

ADDITIONAL AMENITIES: If you haven't traveled through TPA in a few years, you may not know that the Airport has Nursing Rooms and Pet Relief areas at every airside, water bottle filling stations near the drinking fountains, a USO office for military families, Travelers’ Aid and Sunflower Lanyards for passengers with hidden disabilities. Stop by the Info Kiosk on Level 3 of the Main Terminal for directions or info.

To learn more about Tampa International Airport before your travels, go to tampaairport.com