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TPA introduces express drop-off and pick-up for passengers without checked bags

outside an airport with a line of cars riding through an express lane at sunrise

Opening just in time for Thanksgiving and the end-of-year holidays, a new innovation from TPA will provide separate drop-off and pick-up lanes for its passengers without checked bags.

If you’re planning to travel this holiday season, consider packing light. If you do, Tampa International Airport is prepared to make your trip a whole lot easier.


Tampa’s favorite airport announced a first-of-its-kind program to expedite arrivals and departures for travelers without checked bags. Tentatively beginning November 16th, TPA will have 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.

The idea is pretty straightforward: passengers without checked bags shouldn’t have to waste time going through the ticketing area upon entry. The same goes for the baggage claim area when exiting the airport after landing. The cherry on top of the expedited sundae is that it will also help alleviate traffic and crowds at the main entrance for passengers with checked bags.


Rendering depicting new departures entry, courtesy TPA

How the new TPA express lane works

While the airport knows communication will be necessary as the Express Curbsides open, they have offered easy-to-understand guidance for drivers as they approach the airport. If your passenger is not checking a bag, follow the signs for Express Curbside and stay in those lanes. If they have a checked bag, follow the signs for the main terminal and Bag Check-In/Full Service.

If all they have is a carry-on, departing travelers will be able to simply take the escalator directly inside the Express drop-off area and proceed to their gate from the main terminal as usual. For arrivals, drivers will follow signs for Express Curbside pick-up and meet exiting passengers there.

TPA is the first airport in the country to introduce this innovation and leadership expects that it will enhance the guest experience, with the added benefit of prolonging the life of the facility itself. The Express Curbsides are one of the signature projects of TPA’s Master Plan Phase 2 expansion, which also includes roadway widening, construction of a new office building/atrium to enable further growth, and the addition of a new taxiway bridge for planes.

“Passenger needs and expectations are changing,” said TPA CEO Joe Lopano. “Our Blue Express Curbsides will better serve our guests and enhance an already smooth experience. On top of that, we’ll also be making our Main Terminal more efficient, decongesting busy areas and helping us prolong the life of our facilities.”

Read more from TPA here, and check out the video explaining the process.

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