Flights to Tampa, a Review of Tampa International Airport

A Perspective from a Window Seat

Flights to Tampa are a Travel Writer’s Best Kept Secret

Airports can be stressful. It seems like it’s a hustle from the moment you enter the building; dragging your luggage, reading the signs, trying to figure out where you are, where you’re going, and even getting bumped into along the way.  Air travel can really suck but, if you’re catching a flight to Tampa or leaving the Sunshine State, you’re on the bright side of the clouds.

As a travel writer with a great deal of air miles both domestic and international, I can say that I have a pretty novice opinion of airports in the United States. I was recently asked during a survey for Johnny Jet’s, Travel Style, “What is your favorite U.S. airport?” Answer: “Tampa International, I will take this to my grave.”

Tampa International Airport stands out from the rest

Watching the sun set leaving Tampa International Airport, by Christa Thompson

Watching the sun set leaving Tampa International Airport, by Christa Thompson

Before I highlight the reasons why I love Tampa International Airport, let’s evaluate the problems with airports from a consumer stand point. One thing that really heats me up is the complete crap selection of landside dining, bars and retail. More and more you are seeing less and less conveniences for non-ticket holders, as these options are all getting pushed to the airside terminals. Another downside of air travel is the cleanliness. Granted, I’m not saying there is litter, but the floors and walls and overall appearance of many U.S. airports is just downright dirty. Bathrooms are jam packed, no frills, and just unkempt. Then you have the technology dilemma. Finding a place to plug in is like finding a lunar-eclipse! Business and leisure travelers alike want to be charged up and gaining access, and why shouldn’t they?

Tampa International has managed to streamline the airport experience by considering the modern day traveler. It has gone above and beyond to elevate the air travel experience, and  with landside retail, dining, and beverage areas it’s elevating it for the non-ticket holders too.

Landside experience

Kids love the airport. The Little Fairytale Traveler and bugs are watching the planes take off from the roof of the parking garage.

Kids love the airport. The Little Fairytale Traveler and bugs are watching the planes take off from the roof of the parking garage.

Sit down dining options as well as quick fresh options.

Large, comfortable lounge seats with built in USB and outlets.

Free Wi-Fi.

Starbucks and wine bar.

Completely renovated restrooms with modern contemporary design elements.

Easy access to tram to access airside terminals, walking time is minimal.

Clean, clean, clean!

BONUS: A free (with the exception of parking which is also free for the first hour), place to bring your kids to watch the planes take off! Head to the rooftop of the parking garage for takeoff and landing, and some of the best sunsets in the country.

Airside Experience:

Tampa International air side by Christa Thompson

Tampa International air side by Christa Thompson

Cultural restaurants with a wide range of dining options close to the gates again, walking time is minimal.

Plug in cubicles to stay connected and productive during your travels.

Modern, contemporary design elements all throughout the terminal including bathrooms and restaurants.

Super clean, well laid out and organized for easy access to gates.

How did this happen?

Air side C at Tampa International Airport by Christa Thompson

Air side C at Tampa International Airport by Christa Thompson

In 2011 after a career with Dallas/Ft. Worth International (not too surprisingly my 2nd favorite U.S. airport), Joseph W. Lopano was hired as the CEO of Tampa International Airport.

Flights to Tampa -CNNgo.com names Tampa International Airport as one of the 10 Most Loved Airports. TPA is the only airport in the U.S. to make the list.


About Christa Thompson

view all posts

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day.

“It’s never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams.” -Christa Thompson

We love hearing your thoughts, stories and adventures. Share them here: