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Tampa International Airport

Tampa International Airport
WMO: 72211
Airport type Public
Owner Hillsborough County
Operator Hillsborough County Aviation Authority
Serves Tampa, Florida
Hub for Silver Airways
Focus city for Southwest Airlines
Elevation AMSL 26 ft / 8 m
TPA is located in Florida
Location of Tampa International Airport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10/28 6,999 2,133 Asphalt/Concrete
19L/1R 8,300 2,530 Asphalt/Concrete
19R/1L 11,002 3,353 Concrete
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Total passengers 16,732,051
Aircraft operations 191,315
Based aircraft 90
World War II postcard from Drew Army Airfield
Drew Field in 1948
FAA diagram of Tampa International Airport (TPA)

Tampa International Airport (ICAO: KTPAFAA LID: TPA) is a public airport six miles west of Downtown Tampa, in Hillsborough County, Florida, United States. This airport is publicly owned by Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.[1] It has been praised for its architecture and Landside/Airside design of a central terminal ("landside") connected by people movers to satellite gates ("airsides"), a pioneering concept when designed in the late 1960s. The airport was called Drew Field Municipal Airport until 1952.[2]

Tampa International Airport is a hub for Silver Airways. Southwest Airlines carries the largest share of TPA passengers, operating a peak-season schedule of over 110 daily flights.[3] The airport presently serves 80 non-stop destinations, including international service to the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and to destinations throughout the Caribbean. Tampa is also one of only two airports in the United States to host regularly scheduled charters to three Cuban cities: Havana, Holguín and Santa Clara. The airport handled 17,552,707 passengers in 2014, making it the 31st busiest airport by passenger movements in North America.[4] International Plaza and Bay Street is adjacent to the airport. In 2011, it was called one of the 10 best airports by CNNGo.


  • History 1
    • Drew Field 1.1
    • Tampa International Airport 1.2
    • The 1971 Terminal 1.3
  • Airlines and destinations 2
    • Top destinations and airlines 2.1
    • Cargo 2.2
  • Terminal 3
    • Airsides 3.1
    • Original airsides 3.2
  • TPA Airport today 4
    • Airport amenities 4.1
    • TIA versus TPA 4.2
    • The logo 4.3
    • The color-coding system 4.4
    • The Landside Terminal 4.5
    • Service building 4.6
    • Parking facilities 4.7
      • Short term parking garage 4.7.1
      • Long term parking garage 4.7.2
      • Economy parking garage 4.7.3
      • Cell phone waiting lot 4.7.4
    • Monorail 4.8
    • Future 4.9
    • Public art program 4.10
    • One Buc Place 4.11
  • Accidents and incidents 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Tampa Bay is the birthplace of commercial airline service, when pioneer aviator Tony Jannus flew the inaugural flight of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line on January 1, 1914, from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Tampa using a Benoist Flying Boat – the first scheduled commercial airline flight in the world using a heavier-than-air airplane.[5]

Drew Field

see: Drew Army Airfield for the World War II use of the airport

In 1928 the city completed the 160-acre (65 ha) Drew Field six miles (10 km) west of Downtown Tampa. The more popular Peter O. Knight Airport was opened on Davis Islands near Downtown Tampa in 1935, where both Eastern and National Airlines operated until 1946.

The United States Army Air Corps began negotiating for the use Drew Field in 1939 during the buildup of military forces prior to World War II. In 1940, the City of Tampa leased Drew Field to the U.S. Government for 25 years, or until the end of the "National emergency." During the war, the United States Army Air Forces expanded and modernized the airport. The airfield was used by Third Air Force and renamed it Drew Army Airfield. Third Air Force used it as a training center by 120,000 combat air crews and flew antisubmarine patrols from the airfield. There was one accident in 1943 that killed five fliers.[6] Despite this, Drew Field set a safety record for the Third Air Force in 1945 after 100,000 flying hours had been completed over a period of 10 months without a fatal incident. The aircraft operated included the B-17, C-47, AT-6, B-25, and others.[7]

After World War II, Drew Field was given back to the City of Tampa. The Peter O. Knight Airport and Drew Field reversed roles as the main Tampa Airport because Drew Field was greatly expanded by the United States Army Air Forces during the war years. Airlines (Eastern and National Airlines) moved to Drew Field from Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Island, which was too small to handle the Douglas DC-4, DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation prop-liners. During this period the airlines were housed in the former Base Operations Building.[8]

Tampa International Airport

Trans Canada Airlines inaugurated international flights in 1950 and Drew Field was renamed Tampa International Airport. The airport's second terminal opened in 1952 near the intersection of Columbus Drive and West Shore Blvd.

The April 1957 OAG shows 30 departures a day on Eastern Air Lines: nonstops to Chicago-Midway (MDW), Willow Run (YIP), Cleveland (CLE), New York/Idelwild (IDL, now JFK), Boston Logan (BOS), seven nonstops to Atlanta (ATL) and 18 within Florida. National Airlines had 26 departures, including seven nonstops beyond Florida to Houston Hobby (HOU), Havana (HAV), Washington National (DCA), New York/Idelwild (IDL, now JFK) and three to New Orleans (MSY). Trans-Eastern had 12 departures and Mackey had two DC-3s, none nonstop beyond Florida. Trans-Canada had thirteen nonstops a week to Toronto or Montreal.

The 1952 terminal, built for three airlines, was swamped after the Civil Aeronautics Board granted Capital, Delta, Northeast, Northwest and Trans World Airlines authority to Tampa in the late 1950s. An annex was built east of the terminal for the new carriers.

Turbine-powered flights began in 1959 on Eastern Air Lines' L-188 Electra; in 1960 National, Eastern and Delta Air Lines began jet flights with the Douglas DC-8 (Delta was first, with a Chicago nonstop in May or June). National DC-8 nonstops to Los Angeles and weekly Pan American jets to Mexico City (MIA-TPA-MID-MEX) started in 1961.

The 1952 terminal was congested as larger jets replaced piston airliners and it was again expanded.

The 1971 Terminal

During the early 1960s, the aviation authority began planning a replacement terminal in an undeveloped site at the airport. Airport leaders chose the Landside/Airside design in 1965 after a study.

Construction on the new terminal designed by Reynolds, Smith & Hills began in 1968 between the airport's parallel jet-capable runways.[9] Prior to its opening on April 15, 1971, 60,000 people toured the new facility during a two-day open house. National Airlines Flight 36 from Los Angeles was the first to arrive at the terminal. After touching down at 05:26 am the jet taxied to Airside E.

The people mover system (Airside E, right)

The airport's people mover system was the first such system in the world. The original eight trains were built by Westinghouse. The graphics and signage system designed by Jane Davis Doggett used red for one group of airlines and blue for another. The red/blue color scheme began on the highway outside the airport and helped guide drivers to the proper dropoff areas for each airline, then continued to guide passengers through the airport itself and ultimately to their gate.[10] The Tampa Airport was the first airport to use this sort of color-coded wayfinding signage system which was safer for drivers and required many fewer signs than highway engineers had originally budgeted for.[11]

On July 15, 1972 the 227-foot (69 m) tall Air Traffic Control Tower opened, the tallest in the United States. The Host/Marriott Airport Hotel and its revolving rooftop restaurant opened in December 1973, with triple-paned windows and sound-proof guest rooms.

Northwest Airlines and National Airlines brought the Jumbo Jet to the airport late in 1971 with the introduction of the Boeing 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10. This was followed by the L-1011 Lockheed Tristar a year later by Eastern Air Lines. National Airlines began trans Atlantic DC-10 service to Amsterdam and Paris in 1977. In 1991 Airside B closed following the demise of Eastern Airlines.

During the following decades, the airport was expanded to handle more traffic and additional airlines. In 1996 Airsides C and D were remodeled. The interiors of both satellites were refurbished and the original Westinghouse shuttles were replaced with Bombardier Innovia APM 100 trains. During this time, all the airlines from both facilities were housed in Airside E. Upon completion of the renovations, the airlines returned to their original locations and Airside E was closed for good. The Landside Terminal was also remodeled numerous times during the 1980s and 1990s.

Both Delta Air Lines and US Airways opened maintenance bases at the airport. Both bases closed following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States utilizing hijacked US flagged commercial airliners and the commercial airline struggles that ensued. Alabama-based Pemco World Air Services now occupies the former US Airways hangar performing MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) services for the Spirit Airlines and jetBlue A320 fleet.[12] On April 1, 2010 a press release announced that a lease agreement was reached to allow Pemco to lease the second hangar formerly used by Delta Air Lines, where they perform Boeing 737 cargo conversions and modifications.[13]

Delta Airlines operations at Airside E.
A United Airlines plane taxis to its gate.
Southwest Airlines operations at TPA.
JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit Airlines operations at Airside A

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations Airside
Air Canada Seasonal: Halifax, Montréal–Trudeau (ends January 10, 2016),[14] Ottawa E
Air Canada Rouge Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Montréal-Trudeau (begins January 15, 2016)[15]
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma A
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington–National
Charter: Havana, Holguín, Santa Clara
American Eagle Seasonal: Washington–National F
British Airways London–Gatwick F
Cayman Airways Grand Cayman F
Copa Airlines Panama City F
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Cancún, Salt Lake City
E, F
Delta Connection Raleigh/Durham
Seasonal: Columbus (OH), Indianapolis, New York–LaGuardia
Edelweiss Air Zürich F
Frontier Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Denver, Philadelphia, Trenton
Seasonal: St. Louis (begins December 19, 2015)
JetBlue Airways Boston, Hartford, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, San Juan, Washington–National, White Plains
Charter: Havana, Santa Clara
A, F
operated by Lufthansa CityLine
Frankfurt[16] F
Silver Airways Charleston (SC), Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Marsh Harbour (BA), Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Tallahassee, West Palm Beach A
Southwest Airlines Albany (NY), Atlanta, Akron/Canton (ends April 11, 2016) , Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham (AL), Buffalo, Chicago–Midway, Columbus, Dallas–Love, Dayton (ends April 11, 2016), Denver, Flint (ends April 11, 2016), Fort Lauderdale, Grand Rapids (ends April 11, 2016), Hartford, Houston–Hobby, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Long Island/Islip, Louisville, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Providence, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Juan, Washington–National
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul (begins March 19, 2016),[17] Norfolk, Rochester (NY)
Spirit Airlines Houston–Intercontinental
Seasonal: Cleveland, Pittsburgh–Latrobe, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Charter: Havana, Santa Clara
A, F
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles A
WestJet Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Halifax, Ottawa

^1 International arrivals not from pre-cleared destinations are currently handled at Airside F, while all other flights are handled at their respective Airsides.

Top destinations and airlines

Busiest domestic routes (August 2014 - July 2015)[18]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA 990,000 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
2 Charlotte, NC 426,000 US Airways
3 Dallas, TX 339,000 American, Spirit
4 Chicago, IL (ORD) 337,000 American, Frontier, Spirit, United
5 Philadelphia, PA 318,000 Frontier, Southwest, US Airways
6 Detroit, MI 317,000 Delta, Spirit
7 Newark, NJ 301,000 JetBlue, United
8 Baltimore, MD 299,000 Southwest
9 Washington (Reagan), D.C. 292,000 JetBlue, Southwest, US Airways
10 New York, NY (JFK) 288,000 Delta, JetBlue
Busiest international routes (2014)[19]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Toronto 238,796 Air Canada, WestJet
2 London 142,847 British Airways
3 Havana 48,276 Various charter airlines
4 Zürich 46,065 Edelweiss
5 Panama City 40,667 Copa Airlines


Cargo Airline Destination
ABX Air Wilmington (OH)
FedEx Express Memphis, Newark, Indianapolis, Los Angeles


Aerial of TPA in 2004
Landside Terminal – Baggage Claim (2011)
Landside Terminal – Ticketing Area (2006)
Airside A
Airside C
Airside C Interior (2008)
Airside E Interior (2008)
Airside F Interior (2008)

Tampa International Airport's Landside/Airside terminal was the first of its type in the world.[20] There is a central Landside Terminal where baggage and ticketing functions take place. The Landside Terminal is surrounded by four Airside satellites where airliner embarkment and disembarkment occur. Each Airside is connected to the Landside Terminal via an elevated automated people mover (APM) system which employs 16 Bombardier Innovia APM 100 Shuttle Cars. TPA was the first airport in the world to deploy a fully automated, driver-fewer people mover system and is host to Bombardier Transportation's longest-running APM system. The terminal was originally designed to limit the walking distance between the automobile and airliner to 700 feet (210 m); today, it has increased to about 1,000 feet (300 m), due mostly in part to the larger, more modern airside buildings which have replaced the original, smaller structures.

Unlike the similar setup used in Orlando, passengers must access the APM system before going through the security checkpoints, as the security checkpoints are located in the airsides.


Today, there are four active airsides (A, C, E and F) with 62 gates. All were constructed after 1985 and all airsides include a food court and gift shop, and outdoor smoking patios. Airsides E and F contain duty-free shops in addition to the regular gift shops to serve passengers arriving or departing on international flights.[21][22] As of 2011, the security screening area in each airside is equipped with Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) walk-thru detection machines, made by L3 Communications, whose devices use millimeter wave technology and not backscatter radiation. A brief description of each airside and the airlines they occupy are listed below, including the major cities/hubs that each airline serves from TPA.

Airside A
  • Includes gates 1–12 and 14–18.
  • It was opened on March 16, 1995 and was designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum.[23]
  • It features a space designated for use by an airline lounge (intended to be a Continental Airlines presidents Club), however it is unused.
Airside C
  • Includes gates 30–45.
  • It was the last airside to be demolished and rebuilt from the ground up; it was designed by architect Alberto Alfonso and reopened to passengers on April 19, 2005.
  • Designed by HNTB and Alfonso Architects.[24]
Airside E
  • Includes gates 62–75.
  • It was the first airside to be demolished and rebuilt.
  • The current fourteen-gate facility was designed for Delta Air Lines and was dedicated and opened to passengers on October 15, 2002.
  • The facility includes one airline lounge: the Delta Air Lines "Sky Club".
  • Designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum.[25]
Airside F
  • Includes gates 76–90
  • It was opened on November 4, 1987 and was designed for international flights.
  • The facility includes two airline lounges: the American Airlines Admirals Club and the International Club which is used by British Airways passengers.
  • The customs/immigration center is located on level 1.
  • Designed by Design Arts Group, Inc. and Rowe Holmes Hammer Russell Architects Inc.[26]

Original airsides

The original TPA airsides were designed in the mid-1960s as four identical facilities. The concept was later scrapped for unknown reasons and the facilities were eventually built around the requirements of their then primary tenant airlines. Thus creating the four dissimilar facilities that stood from their opening in 1971 to 2000. Each airside building was three stories tall and included a minimum of ten gates, a cocktail lounge, snack bar, and gift shop. Each airside was maintained by the airline for which it was built until 1999. All of the facilities (except Airside B) were renovated in the early/mid-1990s but received no further modifications during their life span. All 4 of the original airside buildings have been demolished and either re-built or the space re-used as noted below.

Below is a brief description of the four original airsides and the airlines that occupied them throughout the years. The bolded airlines indicate the primary (anchor) tenants for each facility.

Airside B – former Gates 19–30 (1971–1991)
  • Airside B was a twelve-gate facility that was designed by Eastern Airlines and was the first original airside to shut down. The closure was the direct result of Eastern's cessation of operations in 1991. There were preliminary plans to renovate and revive the airside during the early 1990s, but efforts failed and planning for Airside A commenced immediately in 1992. The airside was not rebuilt due to a lack of overnight parking for aircraft, the facility's close proximity to one of TPA's runways, and the need for a separate automated baggage sorting facility for Airside A (since Airside A could not accommodate a built-in facility due to its pre-2001 construction), and was eventually demolished in 2003.

Today an overnight aircraft hardstand and an automated baggage sorting facility for Airside A sit on the former site. The site could also one day house an intermodal center that would allow passengers to connect to various mass transit options, including Tampa's proposed light rail system.

Airside C – Gates 31–41
  • Airside C was an eleven-gate facility designed by Delta Air Lines. The facility originally housed a customs/immigration center for arriving Air Canada and Pan Am international flights. The center was closed in 1987 and a Delta Crown Room was added. The airside was renovated (and its shuttles replaced) in 1996 but never received any further modification. By the late 1990s, Delta's presence in Airside C was dramatically increasing, and so was the congestion and lack of gate space. The airline soon requested HCAA to build a new facility for them. Airside E was deemed inactive by 1997 and its future quickly went up in the air. In 1998, it was decided that Airside E be demolished and rebuilt for Delta. After a brief halt in construction due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the new Airside E opened in 2002 and Delta immediately moved in. After much debate by the HCAA about whether to demolish or renovate the aging facility, Airside C was then slated for demolition and replacement in 2003.
Airside D – former Gates 46–55 (1971–2005)
  • Airside D was the last of the original airsides to close. The facility was designed by Northwest Airlines and was originally without some jet-ways until government airline regulation ended in 1978. The airside was renovated in 1996 (and its original shuttles were replaced). Northwest moved to Airside A in 1999 and United moved to the rebuilt Airside E in 2002. Airside D closed in May 2005 and its remaining tenants (AirTran, JetBlue, and Spirit) were relocated to Airsides A and C. The facility was demolished in May 2007 and the site is currently used as a hard-stand for aircraft parking, but will eventually be used for the Control Tower and Ground Radar relocation in preparation for the new North Terminal facility, as well as a replacement airside, scheduled to open by 2020.[27]
Airside E – Gates 61–70
  • The original Airside E was designed by National Airlines and boasted a slightly different layout from the other airsides. Its boarding gates were on the third level (as opposed to the second level in the other airsides). This was due to the fact that the facility was designed specifically for the DC-10. The first level was open to allow tugs to drive right through. This was due to the airsides close proximity to the taxiway. Airside E housed National until its demise and takeover by Pan Am. Pan Am, in turn, occupied the facility until its own demise. Thereafter, the facility was renovated (in 1991) and Continental became its final major tenant. The facility was closed in 1995 after Continental's new terminal (Airside A) opened. The airside was demolished in 2000 and replaced by its current facility.

TPA Airport today

The airport control tower as seen from the parking garage.

Today, TPA Airport handles about 16.6 million passengers per year,[28] and improvements currently in progress will increase capacity to 25 million passengers a year. The airport's car rental market is in the top five among all U.S. Airports. And the facility continues to receive consistent top-ranking reviews from numerous publications. In 2007 and 2008, Zagat Survey ranked TPA the "Best Overall U.S. Airport," while placing it second best overall in 2009 and 2010. In 2008 Condé Nast Traveler recognized TPA as the second-best airport in the world, just two-tenths of a point behind the first-place winner. JD Power and Associates have also given TPA Airport consistently high customer satisfaction ratings over the years. In November 2011, CNN ranked TPA sixth among ten of the world's most loved airports, being the only one on the list from the US.[29] Presently, the largest passenger aircraft serving TPA on a scheduled basis is the Boeing 777.

At this time, new runway is being planned (17–35) to increase capacity in fair-weather conditions. In addition, a second Landside Airside Terminal will be built to the north of the current facility, allowing the airport to serve over 50-million passengers a year by 2025. Construction of this facility was originally slated to begin in 2010, with completion set to October 2015. However, the St. Petersburg Times reported on November 7, 2008 that the airport authority is no longer pursuing the original planned dates due to the current state of the US and global economies. The current struggle of the airline industry, including the recent merger by Delta and Northwest, has forced passenger enplanements to level off, and slowly decline at the airport. Additionally, with more possible airline mergers on the way, TPA Airport may not require drastic expansion for another five to six years. The revised start date of construction of the north terminal is now estimated at around 2015. According to the Tampa Tribune, passenger levels dropped by 14% in January 2009.[30]

The Marriott located adjacent of the parking garage.

Phase I of the economy parking garage was completed in November 2005.[31] Phase II of the economy garage opened ahead of schedule in November 2005, bringing a total of 5,600 parking spaces.[32]

Tampa International Airport covers an area of 3,300 acres (1,300 ha) at an elevation of 26 feet (8 m) above mean sea level. It has three runways: 10/28 is 6,999 by 150 feet (2,133 x 46 m) with an asphalt/concrete surface; 19L/1R is 8,300 by 150 feet (2,530 x 46 m) with an asphalt/concrete surface; 19R/1L is 11,002 by 150 feet (3,353 x 46 m) with a concrete surface.[1] On January 13, 2011 the runway designations changed due to a shift in the magnetic headings. 9/27 became 10/28, 18R/36L became 1L/19R, 18L/36R became 1R/19L.[33]

For the 12-month period ending May 30, 2008, the airport had 279,183 aircraft operations, an average of 764 per day: 85% scheduled commercial, 14% general aviation and <1% military. At that time there were 90 aircraft based at this airport: 66% jet, 19% single-engine, 3% multi-engine and 12% helicopter.[1]

In January 2011, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) announced that Tampa International Airport has been designated an official "entry/exit" point for travels to and from Cuba, allowing for Cuban-Americans to travel directly from Tampa to Cuba on chartered flights. Castor expects the TPA administration to recruit charter operators to establish service to Cuba over coming months as final regulatory clearance is granted.[34] On March 7, 2011, federal officials gave TPA the green light to begin charter flights to Cuba.[35]

Airport amenities

Airport conveniences that are free of charge include passenger paging, wireless Internet access, cell phone waiting lot with flight information, shuttle service from the economy garage, real-time flight information and travelers aid services. Other services include eateries located before passenger checkpoints, touch screen information kiosks, information about local events and outdoor smoking areas. In June 2012, the airport debuted several distinctly-Tampa restaurants and bars in both the landside terminal and the airsides. Among these eateries now represented at the airport are the iconic Ybor City Columbia Restaurant, downtown's Mise en Place's First Flight wine bar, and Cigar City Brewing's brewpub, which features an on-site produced pale ale named after Tampa aviation pioneer Tony Jannus.[36]

TIA versus TPA

There has been a propensity in local Tampa Bay area news media outlets (to include their weather reporting services) and other business and governmental entities in the Tampa Bay region outside of the professional aviation community to refer to the airport as "TIA" versus the airport's actual airport code of "TPA" in either reporting or reference. A similar situation occurs in the Tucson, Arizona metropolitan area with respect to Tucson International Airport (TUS). The airport code TIA is assigned to Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza, Albania.[37] Although strictly speculative, it is possible that this media use in the Tampa Bay area may stem from the long time reference of Miami International Airport as "MIA" and an erroneous media assumption that that code is an acronym for the name "Miami International Airport." However, MIA is the actual airport code for that facility, a code based on the name "Miami" and not as an acronym for that airport's formal name.

The logo represents the blue waters of Tampa Bay with a jetliner flying into a downtown Tampa sunset. It is known as the "Spirit of Flight". The jetliner was modeled after those once used for supersonic transport—at the time the logo was created in the 1970s, it was during an era when it was thought that supersonic aircraft would replace conventional jets as a mode of air travel.

The color-coding system

Since its opening on April 15, 1971, Tampa International Airport has used a special color-coding system throughout the terminal complex. The Baggage Claim Areas and Ticket Counters are color-coded Blue and Red. Airlines are assigned a color depending on their location within the Landside Terminal Building. The airlines found in the south side of the terminal are color-coded blue. The carriers located in the north side are color-coded red. The codes were also assigned names to assist color-blind patrons. The Blue side names are Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. The Red side names are Igor Sikorsky and Chuck Yeager. The Long Term Parking Garage also uses the special color-coding system. The four elevator cores have names and colors to make it easier for customers to remember where they've parked. Wright Brothers – Orange, Tony Jannus – Purple, Robert Goddard – Green and Charles Lindbergh – Brown. The Economy Parking Garage (EPG) is also split into two sections Purple and Gold. The newest phase, opened in time for the 2008 holiday season, will be Green and Orange. The EPG cores have no names at the present.

The Landside Terminal

The Landside Terminal was designed with convenience in mind. Express elevators and escalators keep passenger traffic moving smoothly, with few bottlenecks.

Level 1 (Baggage Claim) contains all inbound baggage facilities and baggage belts. The Blue Rental Car facility was relocated from its original Bag Claim location, to a consolidated facility beneath the long term parking garage in 2002. On November 15, 2006 a new Red Rental Car facility and garage opened adjacent to the Marriott.[38] In late 2008, renovation of the Baggage Claim began. Improvements include new baggage carousels and an inbound baggage screening system. This project was completed in 2010. In 2013, plans for a consolidated car rental center were announced, to be located on the south end of the property and connected to the terminal via a people mover.[27]

Level 2 (Ticketing) contains all ticketing/check-in functions. The level also contains a Charter desk reserved for flights that do not normally utilize TPA. The Ticketing area received a major renovation/expansion in 2002, and again in 2013.

Shopping/circulation area on the Transfer Level

Level 3 (Transfer Level) includes the airside shuttle stations and a shopping area known as the Airport Galleria. The airport Marriott Hotel is adjacent to the main terminal. Tampa's facilities are almost entirely housed in the public access main terminal. The facilities are mostly operated and run by three airport retail companies – HMS Host, Stellar Partners, Bay Area Concessions and OSI Restaurant Partners.

  • There are two food courts on level 3, operating on opposite sides of the building. The Galleria also features TGI Friday's, the first airport Carrabba's,[39] diverse shopping attractions, such as a Ron Jon Surf Shop, Brookstone and Harley-Davidson. There is also an outdoor smoking/observation patio located where the Airside B shuttle bay once stood.
  • Level 3 has undergone numerous major renovations. The main building was renovated in 1997. Shuttle bay expansions were constructed in 1986 for Airside F, 1994 for Airside A, 2001 for Airside E, and 2004 for Airside C. Future expansion plans include a relocation of the shuttle bay for Airside E by 2012, and, if the plans for a light rail system in the Tampa Bay area come to fruition, a light rail station could be constructed at the current Observation Deck location.
  • By March 2012, several new additions will be available in the main terminal of the airport for the traveler. Mise En Place, a wine bar, will have a prominent location directly in the center of the galleria. Airport Wireless and Swarovski are also new tenants that will be added. The Mindworks toy store began selling Legoland Florida admission passes in January 2012. In 2013, plans were announced to relocate existing facilities on the third floor as well as increase it in size, adding capacity for future retail, dining and services.[27]

Service building

When the airport opened its doors in 1971, the Service Building went into operation as well. It housed the very first Communications Center, Police dispatch, employee cafeteria and maintenance locker rooms. The building is located across from the Red Baggage and Ticketing levels. It was primarily intended to house mechanical equipment such as the chiller plant and electrical transformers. Since then it has been expanded to two levels which was in the original design in 1968. Today it houses the original facilities with the addition of offices, rental car counters, badging and a receptionist desk. The Police department/Lost & Found has a lobby on level two (ticketing level) for walk-in lost & found requests.

Parking facilities

Currently, over 20,000[40] parking spaces are available at the airport. These spaces are split between the Short Term Parking Garage, the Long Term Parking Garage, and the Economy Parking Garage. As of right now, there is an ongoing expansion of the Economy Parking Garages which is in its second phase of construction. Also, the SunPass Plus program, first introduced at Orlando International Airport, is being implemented at TPA in stages. In early 2009, the Economy Parking Garages began using the program, in which customers can use their SunPass transponders to pay for parking. The program was expanded to the Short & Long-Term garages during the summer of 2009.[41] In addition, TIA also provides "self-serve" lanes in which customers can pay with their credit card instead of waiting in line for the cash lanes.

Short term parking garage

Levels 4–9 of the Landside Terminal Building house the short term parking garage. The garage was built with the airport complex in 1971 for added passenger convenience. Originally three levels, the garage was expanded in 1982 to six levels and contains 3,612 spaces.

Long term parking garage

Long term parking was originally a large lot sitting on what is today, the present-day long term parking garage. The garage was built in several phases from 1990 to 1997 after increased passenger traffic swamped the parking lot beyond capacity. A monorail (situated on Level Five of the garage) connects passengers to and from the short term parking garage (Level Five) and the Landside Terminal. The garage can hold a total of 7,635 spaces on six levels.

Economy parking garage

On November 1, 2005 phase I-A of the garage opened to the public and then on May 19, 2006 phase I-B opened. The garage is 8,043 spaces large and is divided into two color-coded sections – purple and gold (yellow). There is also a surface lot and overflow lot for use during the holidays. A free shuttle service takes passengers to the terminal drop-off twenty-four hours a day. Construction began in early 2008 on phase II which will be an exact copy of the first phase. Ultimately, it will be connected to the terminal via an automated people mover system.

Cell phone waiting lot

In an effort to decrease congestion within the Landside Terminal, particularly the baggage claim areas, a cell phone waiting lot was built alongside one of the remote overflow lots. It includes two large four panel flight status boards, showing real-time arrival information. This allows awaiting family members and friends of arriving passengers to wait in their vehicles until the passenger calls. Then the arriving passenger(s) can be picked up curbside at the Landside Terminal without creating curbside congestion problems. The lot has restrooms, WiFi, recorded CCTV surveillance and around-the-clock police patrols. Construction began in early 2008 to expand the cell phone waiting lot and was completed in November of that same year. The lot contains approximately 125 striped spaces.


The Universal Mobility Incorporated UM III monorail was installed in 1991 when the new long term parking garage was built and opened on December 16. It was the first of its kind in the world to include six driver less, electrically propelled cars that are completely computer controlled. The system was also the first to have active switches and it is monitored from the airport's communications center. There are four long term stations. The Monorail circles the long term parking garage and connects to the short term garage via an elevated bridge to stop at four additional stations. The Monorail is free to use and runs twenty-four hours a day except for a once-a-week maintenance shut-down in the overnight hours. Bombardier Transportation maintains the system by contract and the Aviation Authority owns it. Thales Rail Signalling Solutions won a contract in 2008 to completely upgrade the computer control system. The upgrade was implemented and tested for an entire year. The only visible change to passengers is the station graphics which show the position of each monorail car and display system status information.[42]


Plans are currently in the works for the construction of an intermodal facility located on airport premises. This would allow passengers to better connect to the number of proposed bus routes by both HART and PSTA.[43] In addition, a light rail system is being planned for the Tampa area, with a link to TPA Airport from Downtown Tampa and the WestShore district.[44]

In 2012, a master plan was released involving the airport facilities in the future. It outlined that instead of building a new terminal (north of the original), the terminal would be expanded to accommodate up to 34,000,000 passengers per year. This included the construction of Airside D. There will also be the addition of the international arrivals curbside and a new Security Checkpoint for airside C and D.[45]

Public art program

The Airport's public art program was established in 1998 to enhance the traveling public's experience and to bring forth Florida's history and culture. A committee selects the art through a jury process.

Permanent exhibits:

  • Landside Terminal Level 3 at the observation deck includes paintings, sculptures, glass art and mixed media presentations. Various artists contributed.
  • Airside E boasts a collection of seven WPA (George Snow Hill in the 1930s. After being damaged during removal and improper storage, they were restored for display.
  • Landside Terminal Level 2 has a collection of copper, nickel, silver and bronze alloy suspended Pelicans and a mangrove tree sculpture. Original to the airport when it opened in 1971 the collection is known as "The Meeting Place". The mangrove tree is 15 feet (4.6 m) tall with a flock of 22 life-sized pelicans all in copper roosting and circling around. Pelicans are also "flying" above the escalators. Artist Roy Butler of Plantation, FL.
  • Landside Terminal Level 2 near the United ticket counters is a presentation of 28 Cirkut images (A type of Kodak camera). They are 20.8 x 10 feet (3.0 m). The photographs depict the unique history of social and urban growth of Tampa, FL and the west coast. Included are a team photo of the New York Yankees (1927) and a 1922 Gasparilla Invasion. Artist: Brothers Al and Jean Bugert
  • Blue Side Baggage Claim includes artwork by Elle Terry Leonard and Josh Johnson above the marine exhibit.
  • Airport Chapel level 3 of the Main Terminal has the first ever commissioned artwork of glass art adorning the entryway door and interior. Artist Yvonne Barlog.
  • Richard J. Frank's watercolor on paper "Off Doolin" hangs in the shopping arcade of the landside Terminal.
  • Ticket Level/Red Baggage Claim Tapestries were handmade by twenty women from Phumalanga, Swaziland in Africa. Each is 34 feet (10 m) by 8 feet (2.4 m) and depict familiar Florida nature scenes. They serve two purposes. The first is to provide eye-pleasing decoration and the second is to provide a sound absorption method.
  • Red Baggage Claim Aquarium tile collage by E. Joseph McCarty.
  • Main Terminal Level 3 "World Traveler" glass vase. Uses the graal and overlay technique by Duncan McClellan.

The Airport also has a collection of rotating work and exhibits on loan in addition to the permanent collections. They include the exhibit at Airside A security screening and the gallery in the arcade to the Marriott Hotel.

  • Airside C includes: (totaling over $1 million)
  • Spiraculum, a collection of twenty-six mosaic floor medallions at the shuttle lobby by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel.
  • Final Boarding Call, an 11 ft (3.4 m) by 17 ft (5.2 m) Oil painting on Belgium linen by Christopher Still. It's located at the TSA checkpoint.
  • q, a 90-foot (27 m) long sculpture of cut-out figures. It depicts travelers from different time periods and forms a timeline of advances in airline travel.
  • Barnstormer, an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) silicon bronze statue of a pioneer pilot. It weighs more than 1,000 pounds and sits atop a 4-foot (1.2 m) high cement pedestal. Artist: Harrison Covington
  • Orange Blossom, an aluminum sculpture by Stephen Robin. The fragrant flower blooms in the spring and is Florida's state flower. This sculpture is 13 ft (4.0 m) by 9 ft (2.7 m) by 5 ft (1.5 m) and weighs about 1,300 lb (590 kg).

One Buc Place

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' team headquarters were adjacent to the airport from their inception in 1976 to 2006, when they moved to a new facility at the former Tampa Bay Center. It is located just across the street from their home field, Raymond James Stadium, and close to the airport.
Tampa International Airport panorama
Tampa International Airport panorama

Accidents and incidents

In 1943, five people were killed when their Martin B-26 Marauder crashed on a flight from Avon Park to Eglin Field. The pilot attempted an emergency landing at Drew Field and overshot the runway. Two others on board survived. This occurred one hour after a Douglas A-24 flying out of Drew Field crashed in Mullet Key near St. Petersburg, a bombing range at the time. The pilot ditched the airplane and lived but the gunner bailed out and drowned.[6][46]

On November 6, 1986, an Eastern Airlines Captain, George Baines, age 56, was flying in his private aircraft, a Piper PA-23, (registration N2185P) from his home to Tampa International to catch a flight. As he approached Tampa International's 36L (now 1L) with 1/16-mile visibility in fog, he declared a Missed Approach and went around to try it again. On the second attempt, he touched down on a parallel Taxiway and ultimately collided with a Pan-Am 727 that was on the taxiway. Mr. Baines lost his life in the accident and was the only fatality. No other injuries were reported.[47]

On July 7, 1983, Air Florida Flight 8 with 47 people on board was flying from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Tampa International Airport. One of the passengers handed a note to one of the flight attendants, saying that he had a bomb, and telling them to fly the plane to Havana, Cuba. He revealed a small athletic bag, which he opened, and inside was an apparent explosive device. The airplane was diverted to Havana-José Martí International Airport, and the hijacker was taken into custody by Cuban authorities.[48]

On June 27, 2009, US Airways Flight 1241 underwent a rough landing causing the front tire to blow. Subsequently the blown tire caused the landing gear to collapse.[49] None of the passengers or crew on board reported any injuries. However, television pitchman Billy Mays was on this flight and was hit on the head, possibly by falling luggage out of the overhead compartments, during the rough landing; he was found dead the following morning. No evidence of interior or exterior head trauma was discovered during the autopsy. It was then found out that Billy Mays died of a drug addiction.[50]

On May 10, 2013, A man fell down the elevator shaft from floor 7 to floor 1. He was found dead when the elevator failed to close its doors at floor 1.[51]

On May 29, 2014, A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 being chartered for Japan national football team suffered minor damage to the wing after a truck performing a water cannon salute clipped part of it off. The plane was repaired and took off a few days later.[52]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for TPA (Form 5010 PDF), effective May 7, 2009.
  2. ^ Roger Sandoval (February 23, 1928). "TPA | About TPA | DrDrew Field History". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ "Tampa International Airport fact sheet - 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  5. ^ Brown, Warren J. (1994). Florida's Aviation History. Largo, Florida: Aero-Medical Consultants. p. 56.  
  6. ^ a b Dead Listed in Drew Field Crash St. Petersburg Times, March 11, 1943
  7. ^ Drew Field Sets Safety Record Saint Petersburg Times, September 30, 1945
  8. ^ Drew Field Municipal Airport History
  9. ^ "Tampa Airport Captures Excellent Structure Award".  
  10. ^ Knapp, Pat Matson; Turner, Tracy (November 7, 2013). "Jane Davis Doggett: Environmental Graphics Pioneer". eg Experiential Graphics Magazine. No. 07: 50. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  11. ^ Conniff, James C. G. (March 30, 1975). "Danger: Signs Ahead". New York Times Magazine. p. 36. 
  12. ^ "PEMCO". December 16, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Pemco expands operations" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "RITA | BTS | Transtats". Retrieved Apr 2015. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Tampa International Airport, History
  21. ^ Roger Sandoval. "TPA | Shops and Restaurants | Airside E". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  22. ^ Roger Sandoval. "TPA | Shops and Restaurants | Airside F". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  23. ^ Tampa International Airport Expansion Features Hook-On Suspended Metal Ceiling System
  24. ^ Airside C Grand Opening – Tampa International Airport
  25. ^ Cronan, Carl (October 21, 2002). "Contractor Works All Angles to Finalize TIA's Airside E".  
  26. ^ "Modernism Links Diverse Collection of Top Buildings".  
  27. ^ a b c Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours (April 4, 2013). "New vision for Tampa International Airport cleared for takeoff | Tampa Bay Times". Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  28. ^ Roger Sandoval. "TPA | About | Facts/Stats/Financials". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  29. ^ Rane, Jordan. "10 of the world's most loved airports". CNNGo. Retrieved December 1, 2011. 
  30. ^ (February 13, 2009). "TIA Passenger Traffic Down 14 Percent in January". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  31. ^ St. Petersburg Times, A New Day for Parking.
  32. ^ Tampa International Airport, Economy Garage – Phase II opens ahead of schedule!
  33. ^ "GA newsletter fall 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  34. ^ "TIA To Open for Cuba Charter Flights | Representative Kathy Castor". January 14, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  35. ^ (March 7, 2011). "Tampa International gets federal OK for charter flights to Cuba". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Tampa Airport welcomes local flavor" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  37. ^ "(TIA) Tirana International Airport". Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  38. ^ Bay News 9, Bay Area Briefs.
  39. ^ Aviation Week, [4]
  40. ^
  41. ^ Roger Sandoval (October 15, 2010). "TPA | Parking". Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  42. ^ "SelTrac® CBTC, Communications-Based Train Control For Urban Rail – Thales". Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  43. ^ HARTline 2008 Community Report
  44. ^ Transitway Planning, Tampa International Airport
  45. ^ Master Plan, Tampa International airport
  46. ^ Five Are Killed As Bombers Crash The Evening Independent, March 10, 1943
  47. ^ "Aircraft Accident Report - NTSB" (PDF). 2015-10-23. 
  48. ^ "Hijacking - Air Florida". Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  49. ^ "Home | | Tampa Bay News, Weather, Sports, Things To Do | WFTS-TV". Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  50. ^ "Home | | Tampa Bay News, Weather, Sports, Things To Do | WFTS-TV". Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  51. ^ "Tampa airport: Man found dead in elevator shaft was drinking". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  52. ^ "Water salute for Japan Airlines Dreamliner goes awry at Tampa International Airport (w/video)". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 

External links

  • TPA Airport Master Plan Requires Acrobat Reader 7 or higher.
  • Tampa International Airport, official site
  • Juan's Tampa International Airport Fan-Page
  • A Community Rally For More Direct Flights From Tampa International Airport
  • military newspaper for 1942–1945 when the airport was a military air fieldDrew Field Echoes,
  • FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective June 23, 2016
  • FAA Terminal Procedures for TPA, effective June 23, 2016
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KTPA
    • ASN accident history for TPA
    • FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KTPA
    • FAA current TPA delay information
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