By Valarie D’Elia
Opened in 1971, TPA was designed on the premise that no passenger should be more than 700 steps from their car to the gate.
To that end, it employs a network of monorail style trains, (the first airport in the world to have “people movers,” ) which are rumored to be the precursor to those at Disney.
A frequent visitor to Florida’s Gulf Coast, I feel like I’m on vacation the minute I arrive at TPA.
As convenient and easy as it is to maneuver around TPA, (with absolutely free wifi!) it is only getting better.
As of July 2017, TPA will be almost 3/4 of the way into completing Phase 1 of a billion dollar redevelopment project.
By February of 2018, the main terminal and the “Airside” satellite terminals will have been expanded, and a brand new rental car center will open with a new train called Sky Connect that will link car renters to their vehicles without a wait.
Additionally, Phase 1 promises that every restaurant, bar, and shop will have been replaced or completely overhauled.
Even before the food & beverage outlets are re-imagined, passengers can get a taste for the destination since each restaurant reflects local flavors.
Grab a Cuban sandwich at an outpost of Florida’s oldest restaurant, Columbia. Or toast the world’s first scheduled commercial flight with a “Tony Jannus” pale ale, at Cigar City Brewing, the only brewery operating in a North American airport.
Southwest Airlines claims 33% of all passenger traffic at TPA, with new flights from LaGuardia and daily non-stops to Cuba. A variety of other carriers put the “International” in the airport’s middle name, with flights to far-flung locations such as Frankfurt, Zurich, and Reykjavik.