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‘Tis the season! Tampa International Airport prepares for the busy holiday travel period

The holiday travel rush will officially begin picking up this coming weekend, and Tampa International Airport is preparing to see two-and-a-half weeks of very busy days at the Airport.

TPA expects an average of approximately 65,000 to 70,000 passengers a day leading up to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, with the pace slowing down by the end of the first week of January. According to passenger forecasts, TPA’s busiest days will be the Thursday and Friday before Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Monday, Jan. 2, during which the Airport will see more than 75,000 passengers on each of those days. By comparison, an average day in 2022 has seen approximately 55,000 to 60,000 passengers.

Holiday Flamingo 16x9Travelers and those picking them up should know that higher volumes will mean more road congestion, fewer parking spaces and longer lines upon arrival at TPA, particularly on peak days. TPA has the following tips to help make the airport experience seamless for holiday flyers.

CHOOSE EXPRESS: Traveling with carry-on luggage only? The Blue Express Curbsides are an easy, breezy alternative to the regular Departures and Arrival 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 life 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.

ARRIVE EARLY: While TPA has a reputation for being a quick and easy airport to navigate, holiday crowds can move at a different pace as a lot of first-time flyers, elderly travelers and families take to the skies. Plan to arrive at the Airport no laterShoppes at Bayshore - Tommy Bahama than two hours before departure, or three if you’re traveling internationally.

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 either TPA To Go or the Starbucks mobile app to order and pay, then swing by the counter and pick up the goods without standing in line.

EAT, DRINK, SHOP AND BE MERRY: As a way to soothe and relax holiday travelers, TPA has a full slate of live entertainment and holiday music playing in the Main Terminal, so give yourself enough time to stop and enjoy it along your journey. Need any last-minute gifts? TPA's shops sell everything from fine jewelry to books to Florida-themed merchandise and clothing, and its beautiful Shoppes at Bayshore store in the Main Terminal is open 24 hours, 7 days a week (including on Christmas!) for afterthought shopping and retail therapy. Check out all of our shops and restaurants here.