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Thanksgiving travel rush in full swing at Tampa International Airport, expect long lines during peak times

Tampa International Airport
Posted at 6:38 AM, Nov 23, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — Thanksgiving travel is now in full swing, and Tampa International Airport is in high gear.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be one of the busier days.

“We’re going to be very busy. Thanksgiving is one of our busiest times of the year,” said Emily Nipps, spokesperson for Tampa International Airport.

TPA expects to see an average of 70,000 passengers a day during a 12-day period that ends the Monday after Thanksgiving.

“We’ll see about 725,000 passengers come through this airport,” said Nipps. “We know that this is going to be a very heavy season for us."

Crews at TPA have been preparing for the holiday rush. They’re fully staffed with checkpoints ready to go.

“We just want people to be very patient. We are still seeing people that have not traveled since before the pandemic. A lot of families, elderly people that haven’t traveled in a while,” said Nipps.

The airport will be busiest first thing in the morning, around noon, and around 5 p.m.

If you’re getting dropped off or picked up and don’t have checked luggage, use the Blue Express curbs to avoid traffic.

“If you don’t have checked luggage and you don’t need to go to the ticket level, or you don’t need to go down to baggage claim after your flight, you can go right down to express, get picked up or get dropped off, it’s so much easier than using a regular curbside,” said Nipps.

Parking at the airport will be an issue.

“We’re going to see our garages very full, and there’s going to be lines at our checkpoints,” said Nipps. “If you’re going to pick somebody up at the airport, the cell phone waiting lot is your friend. If you are trying to find a short-term parking space to go inside the airport, it’s going to be a little bit tough."

Try opting for long-term parking instead of short-term.

Airport officials also recommended booking parking online before you get to the airport. It’s cheaper and will secure your spot.

TPA officials warn you should check your pockets and carry-on bags before going through TSA.

The most common confiscated items around Thanksgiving are:

  • Jams and jellies
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy
  • Bottles of wine

The good news is airports are seeing flight delays and cancellations continue to improve, so those should be relatively minimal for holiday travel this week.

“While there’s always going to be some number of delays or cancellations so long as there are thunderstorms or snow storms, I think the number of controllable cancellations is quite a bit better than it used to be, and hopefully, it continues this holiday season," said Scott Keyes, founder of Cheap Flights.