Welcome to Tampa International Airport!
This page was last updated on 10/14/2019.
Built in 1971, the current Tampa International Airport terminal complex is full of many design elements that made the airport revolutionary at its time. Most notable of these elements is the Landside-Airside design of the terminal complex. Rather than having a series of terminal and concourse buildings connected via physical hallways, Tampa International Airport’s concourses are connected to the main (or Landside) terminal via people movers. Orlando Internationa Airport’s current terminal was also built in a very similar fashion to Tampa International Airport due to the success of the Landside-Airside design. Sadly though, Tampa and Orlando are the only two airports in the world that posses this unique design as widespread usage of the Landside-Airside design never materialized.
The Tampa International Airport Complex comprises of a three-level main terminal complex, with a six story parking garage on top of it. To the north is the current on-site airport hotel and control tower, as well as support facilities, and to the south is an eight level parking structure primarily dedicated to overnight parking. To the south of the main complex are the Economy Parking Garages & the Rental Car Center. Both are connected via the SkyConnect people mover.
The main terminal building has dramatically changed in appearance since the 1990s & very few elements of the original design remain. Decades old carpeting has made way for sleek, modern tiling, while the brick walls along the ticketing & baggage claim levels have gone to the wayside in favor of modern wall paneling. What will likely always remain intact is the original public art pieces – like the one pictured above, as well as the unique bricked “split-look” columns that line the terminal’s interior.
On the outer perimeter of the main terminal are four Airside terminals (A, C, E, and F), all connected by people movers. A provision has been made to rebuild Airside D as part of the airport’s ongoing expansion and improvement project. The south (or Long Term) parking structure also has a monorail on level 5 that connects passengers from the garage to the main terminal building. Both of these systems were supplied and still operated today by Bombardier Transportation.
Each Airside building was built in accordance to their primary airline carrier’s needs. Airside A was designed and built in 1995 with the needs of Continental Airlines (now part of United Airlines) in mind. Airside C in 2004 for Southwest Airlines, Airside E in 2002 for Delta Air Lines, and Airside F in 1987 to accommodate international flights. The original concept of the airport called for four identical looking Airside buildings.
While many renovations & expansions took place over the course of the past three decades, the most sweeping renovation & expansion project in the entire history of the airport complex since the construction of the current terminal in 1971 is currently taking place. In addition to the earlier explained cosmetic improvements that have occurred in the main terminal, the entire complex has had a refresh of shops & eateries – with all of the previous vendors being replaced with new ones. Additionally, the SkyConnect people mover has eliminated the need for regular shuttle bus operations between the main terminal & the Economy Garage.
Whether you’re driving to the airport, or using public transit, getting to & from Tampa International Airport is pretty easy – though many hurdles remain as far as whether transit access will get better. Currently, several Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) bus routes & one Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) bus route serve the airport’s bus hub located just outside of the Rental Car Center.
However, longer term plans remain in-flux due to legal uncertainty over the recently passed All For Transportation sales tax, which is aimed at improving transportation throughout Hillsborough County – including the expansion of the HART network. A similar voter referendum measure is currently being planned for Pinellas County, but it remains unclear if a sales tax will be pursued. In the event that a significant transit expansion were to occur, a light rail line could ultimately terminate right outside of the Rental Car Center, while stubs at the north end of SkyConnect can one day extend the people mover to a northern terminus where passengers can connect to a commuter rail line, along with a second terminal complex if needed.
Getting to the airport via transit
HART has a total of five bus routes serving the airport bus hub: Routes 30, 32, 35, 60LX, & 275LX, all of which operate 7-days-a-week. PSTA operates most of its weekday-only Route 300X trips with a stop at the hub as well. Due to ongoing construction, bus bay assignments may change.
If you’re driving to the airport
There’s only one point of egress, the George J. Bean Pkwy. This roadway is a limited access spur that branches off the southern end of the Veterans Expressway at Spruce St. The expressway connects to Interstate 275 from the south, so simply follow the signs that point to the airport – regardless of what direction you’re coming from. If you’re picking up a friend or loved one, it’s highly encouraged that you either park at the Short Term Parking Garage, or use the Cell Phone Lot located between the airport post office & the Economy Garage. You can use the latter lot to wait for your party until they call you to notify you that they’re ready to be picked up. Like many airports, leaving your vehicle to sit at the departure or arrival drives is not allowed unless you are actively dropping someone off or picking someone up.
Additional Passenger Information
For additional passenger information, including flight status, airside/gate locations, & retail/dining options, please visit the TPA Airport website.