TAMPA — It took more than two hours for Tampa International Airport officials to convince One Direction fans that the band wouldn't be making an appearance in the main terminal Saturday.
Rumors spread quickly on Twitter that the boy band would have a two-hour layover in Tampa on its way to Los Angeles for the MTV Video Music Awards. More than 200 fans formed a welcoming committee that clogged the main gate area and forced airport police to put up stanchions to control the crowd.
The band did touch down at 5:45 p.m. at TIA on one of British Airways' daily nonstop flights to Tampa, said Janet Zink, an airport spokeswoman. But the band went through customs and took a van to Landmark General Aviation near International Plaza mall to board a private jet.
Still, fans crowded in front of the entrance to the F gates hoping for a glimpse. Zink said employees announced the band wasn't coming to the main terminal over the intercom every five minutes. She also took to Twitter (@flyTPA) to communicate with fans for two hours.
"This was a much larger crowd challenge than the Republican National Convention," Zink said.
One Direction's private charter flight left just before 7 p.m. A little while later, disappointed fans cleared out.
Zink tweeted a warning to her colleagues: "Get ready @LAX_Official. You're next for the @onedirection madness!"