1. News
  2. /
  3. Business

Tampa airport to add amenities for nursing moms and service dogs

Work on the new amenities is expected to be completed by next July.
Service dog Eleanor Rigby unexpectedly gave birth to eight puppies at Tampa International Airport as her human family was waiting near gate F81 to board a flight to Philadelphia in May 2018. The airport is getting ready to add pet-relief areas at its airsides for service dogs. (EMILY NIPPS | Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]
Service dog Eleanor Rigby unexpectedly gave birth to eight puppies at Tampa International Airport as her human family was waiting near gate F81 to board a flight to Philadelphia in May 2018. The airport is getting ready to add pet-relief areas at its airsides for service dogs. (EMILY NIPPS | Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]
Published Dec. 6, 2019
Updated Dec. 6, 2019

TAMPA — Passengers at Tampa International Airport, take heart. Three things you ask for most are on the way:

• Nursing rooms for breastfeeding moms.

• Outdoor pet-relief areas near departure and arrival gates for service animals.

• Water-bottle refill stations.

Compared with larger projects in the airport’s $2 billion expansion program, these additions are small. Still, they are expected to resonate with passengers.

“We hear about them constantly,” airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps said Friday. Take the new spaces that will accommodate mothers and young children. “We definitely knew that we had to make some space for nursing mothers. We have family restrooms, but we recognize that that’s not always an ideal setting for nursing mothers.”

RELATED: Tampa International’s billion-dollar update is a new airport experience

So this week the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority approved a $1.4 million contract for the work with Foresight Construction Group of Gainesville. A second bidder was disqualified for not meeting the airport’s minimum requirements for using subcontracting firms owned by women or minorities.

The work is scheduled to start later this month and be completed by next July.

Airsides A, C, E and F each will get a service animal relief area and two water bottle refill stations. The airport plans to add stations at its lines to security checkpoints. That will allow passengers to take empty bottles through the security checkpoint and refill them near the gate.

“This would eliminate or reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles, which, as you know, are floating all over the world,” airport chief executive officer Joe Lopano told the aviation authority board. “If you bring your own bottle, we now have a place for you to fill it, and you can take it with you.”

Airsides A and E will get nursing rooms. Airport officials say Airside C will get a nursing room during a future renovation of its restrooms. The main terminal will get another nursing room and four relief areas for service animals.

The mother’s nursing rooms will feature comfortable seating, a baby-changing station and sink.

Tampa International Airport contracted this week to add amenities sketched here to its airsides. [Tampa International Airport]

Relief areas for service animals will be on elevated decks outside each airside. Currently, once departing passengers and their animals go through security, there aren’t any relief areas available at the airsides unless they can persuade an airline employee to take them to a particular area, Nipps said.

That also means passengers bringing service dogs off a flight generally have to go to the main terminal and then get outside to find a grassy patch where their animals can do their business.

“We definitely saw the need for something like this,” Nipps said. “We have a record number of passengers flying, so we also see a record number of dogs coming through the airport, and we need to have amenities for them as well.”

In February, after hundreds of cleanups and more than a dozen injuries to people and pets, the airport tightened its rules on animals. In a crackdown on meet-and-greet pets that people bring from home, the airport banned emotional support animals that are not flying.

The new rule did not affect service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act — typically dogs individually trained to perform tasks to help people with physical, sensory, psychiatric or other disabilities.

RELATED: Tampa International Airport says, keep your emotional support animal at home unless it’s flying

The planned relief areas will include artificial turf with drainage, a hose, sink and trash cans.

“You’re seeing more and more of these” relief areas at airports nationwide, Nipps said. Unlike Tampa’s, which will be outside, “some of them are right in the middle of gate areas where people sit.”


  1. More than 44 percent of people who searched on for the Tampa Bay area from June to December were outside the region, according to a report from Apartment List. Percentages in the “Top Three Sources” box represent the share of searches coming from outside the metro area. (Apartment List map) [Apartment List]
    The region trails only Denver, Baltimore and San Diego for the percentage of people from outside the area searching for apartments on Apartment List.
  2. To accommodate the swelling numbers of aging baby boomers, experts say we will need to make transportation more readily available, build more affordable housing, modify homes and apartments to help seniors age in place, and create programs to bring young and old people together. [Times (2011)]
    “There’s never been a time like this,” one expert says. Solutions include more health aides, taming long-term care costs and just healthier living.
  3. In this Sept. 20, 2017, file photo Oscar the cat sits in his carry on travel bag after arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Airlines might soon be able to turn away cats, rabbits and all animals other than dogs that passengers try to bring with them in the cabin. The U.S. Transportation Department on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, announced plans to tighten rules around service animals. The biggest change would be that only dogs could qualify. (Ross D. Franklin | Associated Press] [ROSS D. FRANKLIN  |  AP]
    Soon mainly dogs would be allowed on planes, under plans announced on Wednesday.
  4. The sale of Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans to Centene Corp. is expected to close Thursday, the companies said on Wednesday. [File photo]
    The companies said Wednesday they have satisfied all regulatory approvals, including with the U.S. Department of Justice, for the merger to close.
  5. Power Design has a 22-acre campus in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg. [Rendering courtesy of Power Design]
    In settling the case with the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office, the electricial contractor company denies that it violated worker classification laws.
  6. Rooker Properties of Atlanta plans to build at least 400,000 square feet of industrial and office space at what is now county-owned  land on Old Pasco Road, Wesley Chapel. Pictured is Rooker's Spartan Ridge Logistics Center, a 273,000-square-foot, Class-A industrial building in Spartanburg, S.C. It was constructed in 2018 and the company said the buildings planned for the Pasco County site will closely resemble this. [Rooker Properties]
    Rick Narkiewicz is seeking tenants for the planned Rooker Properties spec buildings known as North Tampa 75 Business Center.
  7. This home in Colonial Hills neighborhood in west Pasco has been vacant for 10 years, neighbors said. A new Pasco County ordinance would require the owners of vacant and rental residences to register their properties with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. [C.T. BOWEN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A new ordinance is supposed to aid sheriff’s deputies and code-enforcement officers dealing with rental or vacant properties.
  8. Four Tampa Bay businesses made Fortune’s list of “Most Admired Companies” in the world for 2020. Pictured is a Publix location in the Channelside district last year. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times (2019)] ["OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Four Tampa Bay businesses made Fortune’s list of “Most Admired Companies” in the world for 2020.
  9. After a spike last week, gas prices in the Sunshine State are down slightly. Pictured is the Courtney Campbell Causeway in 20098. [Times file] [CLIFFORD, DOUGLAS R.  |  St. Petersburg Times]
    Low demand and higher gas supply are bringing cheaper gas this week, experts said.
  10. Next month the Pirate Water Taxi will debut a 100-passenger vessel and two smaller taxis as part of an expansion of the company's routes and coverage of Tampa's waterfront. (Yacht StarShip) [Yacht StarShip]
    The service, owned by the operator of Yacht StarShip Dining Cruises, is investing $1.6 million in three new vessels and adding a long-desired stop near the Florida Aquarium.