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Biometric scanners are changing the way we travel at Tampa International Airport

two biometric scanners set in front of an airport gate
Photo via Tampa International Airport

The future is now at Tampa International Airport. The lauded, award-winning, meme-lord of airport social media, is continuing to implement new technologies to fully upgrade the passenger experience at the always busy airport. Biometric screening is now ready for use at some of Tampa International Airport’s gates. This is the result of a year’s long pilot program.

That’s right, when they’re not installing a massive flamingo, or inking deals with Virgin Atlantic, they’re sciencing the heck out of their terminals. Implementing this technology for departures is one of the latest initiatives TPA has undertaken to improve efficiency, safety and convenience during the boarding process, according to a release from TPA.


TPA has eight biometric scanners installed, exclusively at international airline gates, with several more on the way. According to TPA officials, a plane carrying approximately 130 passengers will be able to board in 11 minutes. That’s about 3 times faster than current average boarding times.

Here’s how the Biometric Screening works:

  • During boarding or arrival, a traveler’s photo is taken where you would normally present your passport for inspection.
  • The photo is compared against an existing passport or visa photo.
  • A CBP officer interviews the traveler to validate results, establish the purpose and intent of travel, and determine admissibility.
  • All traveler photos of U.S. citizens are deleted and no photos are ever shared with industry partners.
Rendering via the TPA Master Plan Update

TPA continues to innovate travel for passengers

The innovations just keep on coming. Within the next decade, TPA officials expect to have the technology in place for passengers to use biometrics to check a bag, use the shuttles, pass through TSA and board a flight, all without needing a paper boarding pass. 


Tampa International Airport has already upgraded its own infrastructure to cut down on traffic congestion for departures and arrivals.

TPA will now has two separate drop-off and pickup areas for passengers with and without checked bags. Dubbed the “Blue Express Curbsides,” phase one of this new project will serve airlines operating from the Blue Side of the airport, including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Copa Airlines, Cayman Airways and Swift Air. Express lanes for the Red Side are expected to open in 2025.

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