Tips for Traveling Through TPA This Thanksgiving

Air travel is at an all-time high around the U.S. and, while airports everywhere are thankful for the increase in guests and business, they’re also bracing themselves for that Thanksgiving crush that happens each year. This week marks the beginning of that ultra-busy period, which will continue through early December. Here are five things that Thanksgiving travelers need to know:

1. It’s going to be another record year for Thanksgiving travel. Tampa International Airport has been experiencing record-high passenger numbers for the past few years and this means even bigger crowds during heavy periods such as spring break and the holidays. This year, the two-week period around Thanksgiving will bring more than 913,000 travelers through TPA. That’s only a 2 percent increase over the same period last year, but keep in mind, some days we’ll see nearly double the average number of passengers than we see during a typical non-peak day.

2. Our busiest day of this 13-day period – and perhaps the year – will be the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Nearly 80,000 passengers are expected to pass through TPA’s terminals on Saturday, Nov. 30, and that’s about 30,000 passengers more than you see on a typical Saturday. The next busiest days are Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Airside C, which serves Southwest and Frontier, will be the busiest terminal with nearly 100 departing flights on the Saturday before and Saturday after the holiday.

3. We recommend arriving at the Airport at least two hours before boarding time. Holiday travel is stressful enough. Why chance it by cutting it close to your flight departure time? While TPA is famous for its zippy TSA checkpoint lines and overall pleasant efficiency, holiday travelers bearing gifts and extra carry-on items could slow things down. Also, be aware of ongoing construction on our roadways and our current reduced speed limits as you arrive and depart the Airport. It’s always best to be safe than sorry, and as a bonus: Getting to TPA early means you can try some delicious eats at our restaurants!

4. Meeters and greeters: The Cell Phone Lot and Short Term Parking Garage are your friends. Lingering at the curbsides or circling the roadways is not permitted at TPA, as it adds to congestion and slows down pickups and drop-offs. Instead, wait for the arrival of your loved ones in the Cell Phone lot, which has free Wi-Fi and restrooms, or park for up to one hour free in the Short Term or Long Term garages and come inside to greet arriving passengers as they get off the shuttles. Read more about our parking options here.

5. Relax and have fun! Tampa International Airport is fully staffed, fully stocked and ready to make your travels as smooth and enjoyable as possible. The key to making holiday travel feel less hectic is to arrive in plenty of time to shop for gifts (for loved ones or yourself!), get a massage at one of our Terminal Getaway Spas, have a glass of wine and eat some of the best food you’ll find at any airport anywhere. Check out our WayPointe TPA guide for detailed information about our bars, cafes, fashion lines, award-winning restaurants, handmade jewelry, local coffee brands and more.

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