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Business Observer Monday, Oct. 25, 2021 3 months ago

Airport blazes trail with innovative terminal upgrade for passengers

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Tampa International Airport’s express curbsides are intended to speed up the departure process.

TAMPA — Express curbsides for departing passengers without checked bags seems like an obvious solution for easing congestion at airports, but none in the United States had done it until now, with Tampa International Airport set to unveil the terminal upgrade on Nov. 16, right as the busy holiday travel season gets underway.

According to a news release, TIA’s Blue Express Curbsides will allow passengers to get to and from their gates faster via a separate terminal entrance that allows them to bypass the ticketing and bag claim levels. With a total of eight lanes, the new access point should dramatically speed up the drop-off process for passengers with and without luggage that needs to be checked.

"Passenger needs and expectations are changing," TIA CEO Joe Lopano states in the release. "Our Blue Express Curbsides will better serve our guests and enhance an already smooth experience. On top of that, we’ll also be making our main terminal more efficient, decongesting busy areas and helping us prolong the life of our facilities.” 

TIA’s express curbside capacity will double in early 2025, the release states, when the Red Side lanes are expected to open. The express curbsides are part of the second phase of the airport’s $544 million expansion, which began in 2018. Other projects include roadway widening, construction of a new office building/atrium to enable further growth and the addition of a new taxiway bridge for planes.

"We take great pride in our legacy of innovation at TIA,” Lopano states. “This revolutionary project further cements our place as industry leaders, promoting smart growth that will translate into a positive economic impact for our region.”

TIA says plenty of signage will be installed to direct motorists to the appropriate place to drop off travelers.

"It’s pretty straightforward: If you’re checking bags, use the traditional full-service curbs. If you’re not, go to express," states John Tiliacos, the airport’s executive vice president of operations and customer service, in the release. "We believe guests will pick up on the change quickly and appreciate this feature, but we’ll also do everything in our power to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible." 

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