Record-breaking travel weekend expected at Tampa airport

Travel experts predict a major bounce back in air travel on Memorial Day weekend. Tampa International Airport is preparing to see more people this weekend than they've seen in more than a year.

The influx in passengers is why the airport is asking people to get to the airport at least 2 hours before their flight. The airport hasn't seen this many people in a while so it's definitely a major boost to business and gives a peek at what's expected to be a busy summer travel season.

An airport that's gone months without its typical high volume of travelers is now gearing up for a holiday weekend that'll be the busiest since early 2020.

"Leisure travelers are just really antsy to get out. People are really eager to travel again. We're seeing areas open up again. The CDC guidelines are starting to ease up a little bit so people are feeling more comfortable traveling," Tampa International Airport spokesperson Emily Nipps said.

Tampa International Airport is trying its best to keep up with the sudden return. As Nipps explains, the airport is still down a few hundred employees. Their initial projections which were made before the vaccine was widely available didn't anticipate this large of return so soon.

"It's wonderful to see people back at the airport. It's starting to look more normal again. We still have some limited hours for certain shops and restaurants," Nipps said.

The majority of stores and dining options that closed during the pandemic are now back open.

At its lowest in April of 2020, the airport saw an average of only 1,500 passengers per day. Now, they're seeing around 58,000 per day and expect to see upwards of 65,000 passengers each day of the Memorial Day weekend. If you're one of them, you can expect longer than normal wait times as airlines and airports work to better stagger flight times.

"You might see that if 3 or 4 flights are all going out in the same hour, you'll going to see longer lines at the checkpoints. We're working that out. We're kind of re-learning how to operate with higher volumes again," Nipps said.

If you're flying this weekend, be sure to bring masks which are required on flights through September.