TAMPA, Fla. — The next 11 days are expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel period that Tampa International Airport has ever seen.
From Nov. 16 to Nov. 26, airport officials say an average of 80,000 passengers are expected to pass through TPA each day. The two busiest days are projected to be the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 22), and the Sunday following (Nov. 26) with an estimated 84,000 to 87,000 passengers each day.
Some parking garages could reach capacity and officials recommend you book parking online in advance. To alleviate congestion, rideshare apps will now pick up at the blue express curbside instead of the traditional baggage claim area.
Airport operations manager Adam Bouchard said on peak days during the Thanksgiving travel period, they’re seeing about 20% more passengers.
In years past, Thanksgiving travel has not reached the level that spring break travel does. But this year, Bouchard said it likely will.
“Thanksgiving although it’s busy, has never hit spring break numbers like we’re looking to see this year,” he said. “We’ve been working towards the busyness of the holiday season for the past several months so all of our airlines, gates, concessions…we staff up heavily.”
While parts of the airport are under construction as crews work on expansion, Bouchard said staff members are in key areas helping to direct people and move them onto the trams. In some airsides, only one tram is operational during construction.
“Although we do have construction going on the impact to our guests should be minimal to none if we’ve done our job right,” Bouchard says.
The busiest hour for TSA is from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and Bouchard says travelers should plan accordingly.
During this time period, people should arrive two hours before their flight departs.