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TPA's new 'Express' pick up and drop off lanes put passengers in the fast lane

It’s a curbside drop-off area specifically for people who don’t need to unload or check luggage, and don’t want to wait for those who do.

TAMPA, Fla. — There’s a brand new - even faster - way to get to your gate at Tampa International Airport. The airport is now offering its “Express Pick Up” and drop-off area.

It’s a curbside drop-off area specifically for people who don’t need to unload or check luggage, and don’t want to wait for those who do.

While people were competing for curb space near Tampa International’s traditional drop-off spots, Delphine Jeffrey was in the new fast lane – giving it a go.

“You don’t have to compete with people coming in and dropping off luggage and all the rest of it,” said Jeffrey. “So, yes, very good.”

Tampa International, which prides itself on convenience and innovation, is the first airport in the nation to offer the new curbside convenience.

For those without checked baggage, there’s no more need to deal with traffic and delays created by travelers unloading luggage three and four lanes deep.

Instead, just a quick drop off or pick up, and a convenient escalator straight to the gates.

“And so, what better way to do that than to create a new process for more than half of your passengers who just have carry-on bags,” said the airport’s CEO Joe Lopano, noting half of their travelers don’t fly with luggage.

Allison Gillman is among those passengers. She takes a lot of short trips out of TPA for business and was excited to use the new curbside drop-off on its first day of operation.

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“You’ve got your digital passport here or your ticket, you know, pull right up, get out, and you’re already at your gate,” said Gillman.

For most passengers, the express option got high marks for speed and convenience. Its only drawback, said some passengers, might be its design.

“You’ve got to go through the hassle of coming down here and getting another ticket,” said passenger John Lowen.

Lowen had just found out the hard way that if you don’t have your ticket ready to go on your phone or printed out, it can quickly become far less convenient since ticketing is on a completely different level.

Lowen needed to change his flight, which meant navigating a small maze of escalators and terminal locations to reach his airline’s ticket counter.

“It kind of defeats the purpose of doing that,” he said, “But if you’re ready to go it sounds like a good idea.”

The airport hopes travelers will quickly adapt and make sure they have their tickets ready to go when they use the express curbside option.

Regardless of which airline you’re flying, passengers are welcome to use the new drop-off pick-up area. But, for now, the lanes are located on the blue side of the terminal with plans to add a similar lane on the red side by the year 2025.