Tampa Airport’s Phase 1 Completed
By Kai Rambow
After more than two years, major improvements at the Tampa airport are open. SkyConnect is a monorail type train running from the main terminal to economy parking and then to the new car rental center.
A car rental center might just appear to be an addition, but involves much more. The new, much larger space now allows for double the number of car rental companies on site for a total of sixteen.
More importantly, the new center reduces traffic at the main terminal. A visitor would fly in, rent a car and drive away from the main terminal. When returning the visitor would return to the terminal. Then a car jockey would drive the car to be cleaned for the next rental. And finally, the jockey would return the clean car for the next renter. A total of four traffic interactions for each car, now take place away from the main terminal.
Once you know the new system, it’s fairly easy to navigate and pretty efficient. Here are some tips to help you:
(1) If you’re using your favorite off-site parking, this won’t impact you at all.
(2) If you use economy parking, you’re best to park in either gold (yellow) or orange. Take the elevator to the first floor, then walk to the elevators for the trains. Those elevators will take you to the top floor. Note: trains stop in the center section, so check above the doors to see you’re standing in the right spot to board.
Be sure to either sit or hold on: the train moves very quickly. Once at the main terminal, take the escalators or elevators down. You’re now on the departures level, which means you can head straight to your gate if you have your boarding pass and no luggage to check. If you need to check in/check luggage, you’ll still need to head one level down.
(3) If you have visitors coming and they are renting a car, they will need to board the train and ride it for two stops to reach the new car rental center. As soon as they exit the train, rental counters are right there. When they return, they can check flight times, get their boarding passes and check luggage at the car rental center.
More restaurants have been moved to the airside terminals, so passengers have more choices close to their departure gates. What you might notice is that 40 percent of the restaurants are local. If you fly Southwest, there is an actual beer distillery in that terminal.
As a regular traveler through Tampa, the airport has skillfully kept the things that make it so easy to travel in and out of, and successfully made changes to cope with growth.
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