Tampa International Airport preparing for record-breaking holiday travel season

Traffic delays expected at St. Pete PIE Airport
TIA preps for record-breaking holiday travel
Posted at 9:57 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 05:34:42-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa International Airport will serve an estimated 700,000 passengers this Thanksgiving holiday travel season, a 9 percent uptick from last year. 

ABC Action News received exclusive access Tuesday to an area rarely seen by the public — but always active in their travels. 

From security to weather delays, and the monorail, the Airport Operations Center is the eyes and ears monitoring through a network of cameras offering more than 1,600 angles on the property.

"I often describe where I work as a lot like mission control where we have all of these little desks with tons of monitors with tons of information coming in and out," said manager Tony Daiuto. 

A team of dispatchers takes calls ranging from customer questions to security breaches. 

"We get to see a lot of things happen and we get to help a lot of people as well," said dispatcher Miguet Carter-Haynes. 

The Airport Operations Center receives about 400 calls on a typical day. It saw a 50 percent increase on Monday with 600 calls. Staff expects that number to grow Wednesday and over the weekend. 

"We understand that traveling can be stressful, especially during the holidays, but if there’s something that they need, if something is not being done right I hope that they will reach out and let somebody know," said Daiuto. 

Travelers can reach the Airport Operations Center 24/7 by calling (813) 870-8770. 

If you are traveling in and out of St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), airport officials are asking travelers to be aware of limited parking as they are undergoing major renovations. They're now asking travelers to show up early because the parking lots could fill up quickly. Airport officials also expect some traffic delays due to construction.

In the meantime, Tampa International Airport has the following tips to help create a smooth trip if you are getting family members or friends from the airport. 

  • Baggage claim curbside is for active loading only. You should not approach the Arrivals area until your party is waiting on the curbside. No vehicles may be left unattended. Unattended vehicles will be towed immediately. To avoid circling the airport, consider parking and waiting in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot until your passengers have arrived and claimed their luggage. 
  • Have them call you on your cell phone when they are waiting outside, then proceed to the Main Terminal. The lot offers free WiFi, restrooms and flight information. 
  • You also might want to consider using the Short Term Parking Garage. Parking under one hour is free, and you can explore our shops or grab a bite to eat before meeting your passengers as they step off the shuttle from the airside.
  • Due to ongoing construction, the curbside pick-up areas remain open but may experience increased congestion.
  • Waiting for arrivals in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot is free, and so is the WiFi.
  • Want to greet your arrivals inside the airport? Parking under one hour is free in the Short Term Garage.