Airport Innovation: Wayfinding Tampa International Airport

Almost since the dawning of commercial aviation, airports have faced the challenge of getting passengers onto their flights easier, faster and safer. With the constant rise in personal and business travel, combined with the stress induced by needing to be at the gate by a certain time, navigating checkin counters, TSA and thousands of other travelers all clamoring about … creating a wayfinding solution that helps people arrive at their destination on time is no easy feat.

Officials at Tampa International Airport, challenged with over-congested curbsides, have implemented an innovative solution to the problem of how to make it easier and faster for passengers to get onto their flights.

Their solution: Express Curbside Pickup and Dropoff, the first of its kind in the USA. Eight Blue Express Curbside lanes allow passengers without checkin luggage, to bypass the ticketing and baggage claim levels of the airport entirely.

According to Tampa Airport CEO Joe Lopano, “Passenger needs and expectations are changing and our Blue Express Curbsides will better serve our guests and enhance an already smooth experience.”

As with any “first”, there are no well tested templates or formats upon which to rely. That is one of the many reasons why architectural firm HNTB and airport officials engaged the services of airport wayfinding veterans and experts, Selbert Perkins Design, to help them successfully navigate this new approach to airport wayfinding.

According to Robin Perkins, co-founding partner of Selbert Perkins Design, “We had to change people’s behavior”. “It starts even as you are driving up to the airport. Most people are in autopilot, especially when rushing to the airport. People understood how to enter the airport, which to select, Red side or Blue side, in the past. We had to design a new signage communication system that instantly and intuitively re-communicated how to use the new Blue Express system.

And that re-communication needed to continue guiding the passengers all the way from the curbside to their gate, overcoming years of the well-worn grooves; habits engrained through years of travel via the old systems.

Working within as well as augmenting the airport’s existing wayfinding and icon standards, Selbert Perkins Design brought its decades of experience to bear to anticipate and resolve potential obstacles, build consensus and deliver a signage and wayfinding system.

We are excited to help bring Tampa International Airport’s goal of making their airport more efficient through their innovative new express curbsides, to life.

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