Friday, 3 May 2019

No boarding pass, no problem.......Tampa airport allowing non flying passengers airside access.

Photo TPA
No boarding pass, no problem.......now Tampa airport will be allowing non-flying, non-passengers to go 'airside' passed security and shop till they drop, or eat and drink - quite probably until they drop as well!

The airport is introducing a brand new 'All Access' programme which will allow up to 100 people to visit the airport, to go airside and enjoy all the shops and eating places that side of the TSA check-points.

Ok, so this is not exactly a new phenomenon, in days gone by, in many places around the world, non-flying passengers could go airside, could go almost all the way to the gate to say goodbye to a loved one or spouse or family member or indeed to make sure an enemy has got on the gosh dang plane.  It was only numerous security breaches, terrorist activities and other such events that have curtailed that freedom of movement.


Now as airports become little more than shopping malls that aircraft also park at so perhaps understandable they want to get more footfall to keep those business tenants ranking in massive profits, especially if one or two days of the week are relatively quieter than the rest.  Getting more people airside to shop, to eat, to spend a lot of money on a Saturday sounds like a good idea for Tampa Airport, especially as they recently unveiled 70 exciting new shops, restaurants, bars and spas.

“To those feeling left out because you can’t get to all these great restaurants and shops we’ve been touting: We heard you,” TPA CEO Joe Lopano said. “Now families, foodies or even couples looking for a unique date experience can come try our chargrilled oysters at Ulele, sample locally brewed beer at Cigar City and shop for unique gifts and items at our duty-free and fine retail stores without having to buy a ticket.” 

Photo TPA

Those visitors have to go through the same TSA security screening as passengers as well as abiding by the same restrictions on what they can take through and so on for safety sake. Tampa is limiting the number that can go through to 100 in total, 25 to each airside area and it requires 24-hour notice, a form to be completed and then approved.
   
I'm not sure how they've arrived at the 100 person limit, or the 8am - 8pm time restriction, I'd have thought if it were safe for 100 people to go through security to airside, it would have been safe for 101 or 102 or even more.  Plus, one of the benefits of an airport is that it's open when other places are closed,  so going airside when other exciting destinations are closed would seem like a boon.

I also wonder how popular it is going to be to the normal punter,  will they really want to give at least 24-hour notice, to go airside to shop at stores that are often a little more expensive than on the high street and shopping malls.  Sure people could visit duty-free shops, but Tampa advise people won't be entitled to buy alcohol! Will they want to cope with the extra traffic to get to the airport,  then would they want to pay the sky-high parking charges in order to stay at the airport for a little while?  

As a self-confessed aviation geek, I welcome moves like this and wish all airports would have day access all areas pass, but I'm perhaps not your average person.  I think perhaps these sort of offers will be a popular thing among the planespotters and avgeeks, which might not be the target demographic the airport's management is hoping for. 

 For more information about TPA All-Access, visit www.TPAallacess.com.

When does this all start at Tampa?    Star Wars day,  May 4th be with you!



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