Tampa Airport offers convenient choices for meeting arrivals

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With a new curbside traffic management program beginning at Tampa International Airport on Dec. 20, here’s a reason to consider using the Cell Phone Waiting Lot instead of circling the terminal: Food trucks.

For the next 30 days, as the airport transitions from allowing indefinite parking at the airport’s arrival curbs, one or two food trucks offering a range of menu items will be parked at the Cell Phone Lot Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Cell Phone Waiting Lot also offers free Wi-Fi, restrooms, vending machines and flight information screens displaying the status of airline arrivals.

Electric vehicle drivers can also charge their cars while they wait at a convenient charging station located in the lot.

“We are always trying to come up with new ways to improve the customer experience at Tampa International Airport,” said John Tiliacos, the airport’s Vice President of Operations. “We decided to test out this food truck concept as the new curbside management program kicks in.”

Under the new curbside management program, also designed to improve customer service, the arrival curbsides at the airport are designated for loading passengers only.

In the past, vehicles have been allowed to park indefinitely in the first two lanes along the arrival curbs. A survey revealed that in some cases, cars sat parked at the curb for more than 30 minutes.

“That made about 15 percent of our customers happy,” Tiliacos said. “But the other 85 percent found themselves waiting several lanes away from the curb, which is both inconvenient for passengers hauling bags to cars, and unsafe.”

Most airports around the country do not allow cars to park at the arrival curbsides.

The Short Term Parking Garage, which is free for under an hour, offers another alternative to the cell phone waiting lot or driving around the terminal until passengers arrive with luggage.

“Using Short Term Parking means you can greet your family and friends in the terminal as they get off the shuttle,” Tiliacos said. “That’s always a nice surprise for travelers,” Tiliacos said.


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