Six miles west of Downtown Tampa, Tampa International Airport is the 31st busiest airport in North America. Publicly owned by Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, it is regularly praised by industry officials for its architecture and pioneering use of ‘landslide’ technology within its inter-terminal monorail system. Serving 78 destinations, Tampa airport is one of only two airports in the US to host charters to the Cuban cities of Havana, Holguin and Santa Clara, making it a valuable pit-stop on long-haul trips.
Tampa is also an airport that strives to improve its ecological output. Plans were announced in late 2014 to introduce solar panels within the airport’s main terminal, alongside efforts to reduce the amount of water used in airport cooling towers. Taking steps to fit in more closely with the environmentally-friendly ethos of the region, Tampa airport is a fast-moving, pleasant place to pass time between flights.
Easily accessible via all major roadways in the Tampa bay area, chances to get lost on the way to the airport are very few-and-far-between.
Located on the east shore, it’s a mere five minute drive away from Hogan’s beach, and around 90 minutes from Orlando and Walt Disney World.
Within the airport itself, levels and sections are clearly marked, with Baggage Claim divided into Red (North side) and Blue (South side). These colours feature heavily in the airport’s signage system, which is easily decoded by following the information displayed above escalators. All transportation to and from the airport arrives on the ground floor, which is also home to the in-airport rental car counters.
If you find yourself with time to spare in Tampa International, you won’t be resigned to the departures lounge. With plenty of shops and restaurants to explore, it’s easy to while away an afternoon across the main terminals and four key airsides. In the main building you can expect to find familiar eateries and outlets such as TGI Friday’s, Starbucks, Swarovski and Harley Davidson, with various other gift shops peppered through for good measure.
As you branch out into the terminals, expect to find some more time-killing facilities, including a children’s play area, newsagents and currency exchange. The inner-airport Marriott Hotel also boasts a good array of offerings, including Rick’s Touch Massage and Bodywork, the Skyye Lounge Cocktail Bar and Restaurant and Monocle Bookstore.
What not to miss
If gift-shopping or eating isn’t enough to pass your transfer time, it may be worth exploring the entertainment options outside of the airport.
A quick shuttle bus or cab ride away will take you to International Mall, which has a wider range of stores that encourage a more leisurely stroll (and a bigger spend). A five-minute drive will also take you to AMC West Shore Cinema, showing a wide variety of Hollywood and independent releases.