FDOT Names TPA's Blue Express Curbsides as Florida’s Top Commercial Airport Project

Aug. 1, 2022
The award is given annually to a state commercial airport that demonstrates "outstanding achievements in aesthetics, safety and service.”

Tampa International Airport's Blue Express Curbsides Expansion project has been named the 2022 Commercial Service Airport Project of the Year by the Florida Department of Transportation.

The airport reports the project, which opened in November 2021, is the first of its kind in the U.S., expediting time to and from the gates for passengers without checked baggage. The express lanes are a vital piece of the airport’s Phase 2 of the Master Plan, which aims to decongest the main terminal facilities and allow for future capacity. 

"Passenger needs and expectations are changing," said TPA CEO Joe Lopano said at the project’s opening. "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.” 

As part of this project, lanes doubled along the Blue Side for arrivals and departures. Since most passengers do not check bags, Express Curbsides were envisioned to allow passengers to get to and from their gates faster, bypassing the ticketing or bag claim levels and improving the overall passenger experience. Passengers dropped off at the Blue Express Curbsides take the elevator, escalator, or stairs up one level to the Main Terminal Transfer Level, where they can take a shuttle to their Airside’s TSA Security Checkpoint, thus eliminating the need to walk through the ticketing level.

For arriving travelers, it’s also a short walk from the main terminal to the Blue Express pick-up level, where they meet their driver, avoiding baggage claim altogether. This faster option also assists with the flow of passenger traffic throughout TPA and helps to alleviate the build-up of long lines at check-in, security, and various other areas throughout the airport.

FDOT awarded the honor to TPA at the Florida Airports Council Annual Conference on Sunday, July 31. The Commercial Service Airport Project of the Year is given to a Florida airport that demonstrates “outstanding achievements in aesthetics, safety, and service.”

In addition to adding capacity and convenience, the Blue Express Curbsides include architectural features that convey the look and feel of the Tampa Bay region. The roof and lighting represent the ocean, while abstract artwork depicts indigenous plant life. TPA also commissioned two public art pieces and included passenger amenities such as oversized chairs with charging capacity, restrooms, and large spaces to traverse.

Construction is currently underway to make way for eight additional express curbsides to be added to the airport’s Red Side as another part of the Master Plan expansion. The Red Side Curbs are expected to be complete in 2025