Tampa International gears up for busy Fourth of July travel weekend

Whether you’re flying or driving this Fourth of July weekend it’s going to be busy and more expensive to do so.

AAA predicts Independence Day will be the second busiest since 2000 with 2.6 million Floridians expected to travel 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend. It’s an increase of four percent from last year’s holiday.

“We’re coming out of a two-year-long pandemic. All that pent-up demand is now being unleashed from people who have been putting off travel plans,” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said.

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After a record May that saw more than 1.9 million passengers and a very busy start to the summer travel season, Tampa International Airport (TPA) is gearing up for another influx of passengers over Independence Day weekend. 

This upcoming Saturday, July 2, is expected to be the busiest day of the long weekend with about 60,000 people traveling.

“It looks like it did pre-pandemic,” TPA spokesperson Emily Nipps said. “We are seeing some days that are busier than we saw pre-pandemic. And we had a record May and that was our busiest May we’ve had in the history of the airport.”

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Widespread delays and cancellations have impacted travelers across the country due in large part to weather and airline staffing. 

TPA officials said it will be important to plan ahead if traveling this holiday weekend. They suggest travelers arrive to the airport early and book parking ahead online.

AAA predicts more people to drive to their destinations this year due to those airline headaches.

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“We are anticipating more air travelers than last year, but a record setting number of people who are looking to take a road trip. And part of that is probably because of folks who are hearing about the headaches that they’re dealing with at the airports and looking to bypass that,” Jenkins said.  “But another part of it, too, is because of the higher expenses. In many cases, people are looking to travel a little closer to home this year.”

Based on AAA booking data, Friday, July 1 is shaping up to be the busiest day for air travel during the holiday weekend. 

Drivers should expect the longest travel delays heading into the holiday weekend on Thursday and Friday afternoons.

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