You want to know how to torture a travel agent? Plan an event at the local airport and then make him/her drive home: no exciting flights for YOU!

In spite of the torture, I had a great time with the Young Travel Professionals of Tampa the other night, experiencing all of the wonderful updates/upgrades at Tampa International Airport. They have spent about a 18 months and a few million bucks doing some major renovations, and the hard work has paid off.

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If you ever ask me about my favorite airports, Tampa International sits at the top. And I’m not just saying that because I live here. It’s by far one of the easiest airports to navigate due to its layout. That, combined with TSA Pre-check, make it incredibly easy to get to your gate in no time flat. And that was BEFORE the updates.

One of the biggest and best upgrades is the addition of the SkyConnect Train between the Main Terminal and the Economy Garage and brand new Rental Car Center. I have parked in the Economy Garage a billion times (because, value) and never had an issue catching the van/shuttle over to the main terminal, which was only 10 minutes away. But chile….the SkyConnect Train gets you there so fast AND it’s fun? You don’t have to convince me any further.

Inside the terminal, they have added over 60 new concessions between the main terminal and 4 airside areas. The interior finishes are all updated and modern – the place just looks NEW.

I attended the event thinking that we would be shown the new restaurants (“this here is P.F. Chang’s, and over here, the Hard Rock. Here’s the new Starbucks we added”). But nope. Instead we got a glimpse into how the airport runs, and we were all just nerdy with glee. We were first taken to the airport operations center, which is the main brain of the whole place. We weren’t allowed to take photos (G-14 Classified), but they took the time to explain how they keep the airport running smoothly and without incident.

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TPA Op Center – since I couldn’t take a pic, shoutout to tampabay.com for having one available

After leaving the operations center, we were taken “behind the wall” to the baggage screening area. This was another restricted area where we were prohibited from taking photos. We saw the mass of conveyor belts that deliver luggage from the airplanes to baggage claim, x-ray machines, and even some real life TSA agents screening bags. They were unable to explain the classified screening process because….classified. But it was really cool to get back there and see everything that happens before the bags appear on the conveyor belt at baggage claim.

I am thankful to Tampa International Airport for the opportunity to enjoy the new enhancements without the stress of running to catch a flight (because my airport anxiety is REAL…I’ve never missed a flight and I don’t plan to).  Even though, it would’ve been nice to be catching a flight. Just saying.