The same thing that bugs people about airports also makes them kind of cool: There's always something changing or under construction.
Next month brings a bunch of new stuff to Tampa International, plus the continuation of an air travel trend that might make your trip a little less hectic.
Pick a lane
Starting as soon as the first week of November, Tampa Bay area travelers will get to chose a security screening line that matches their pace. "Black Diamond Self-Select Lanes" designate three lines, each with its own color-coded shape symbol, for different types of fliers: Expert Traveler (black diamond), Casual Traveler (blue square) and Families and Special Assistance (green circle).
The concept is simple. Business travelers don't want to get stuck behind kids in strollers or Ma and Pa Kettle, who don't know to empty change out of their pockets. Folks who aren't in a rush don't want some Type A tapping his foot behind them.
Tampa International will introduce the self-select lanes at one airside terminal early next month and expand them to the other three by Thanksgiving.
Chops and choppers
Diners and shoppers will get new choices. Carrabba's Italian Grill, the chain's first airport location, opens before Thanksgiving on the main terminal's transfer level. Nearby, a renovated food court will debut with a French-themed deli/bakery (Brioche Doree) and Mexican grill (Baja Fresh).
New retail includes a Harley-Davidson store with apparel and accessories for bikers and wannabes. No choppers for sale, but one will be parked outside for effect. Also, new kiosks open for Brookstone and the watch store Destination Time.
The sputtering economy and airline schedule reductions will mean fewer people flying. Passenger traffic has been down year-to-year at Tampa International every month since April. The 12.6 percent decline in September marked the steepest drop since November 2001.
Steve Huettel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3384.
What's your lane?
Passengers at Tampa International Airport will soon get to choose a security line based on how much they know about checkpoint rules and how big a hurry they're in.
Expert Traveler: Frequent travelers and those with little luggage.
Casual Traveler: "Casual travelers" with multiple carry-on bags.
Families and Special Assistance: Families, groups and those with special needs.