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250K expected to fly through Tampa airport

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Published:   |   Updated: November 27, 2013 at 07:29 AM

Nearly a quarter-million passengers are expected to travel through Tampa International Airport in the next five days — one of the busiest holiday travel periods of the year — with today and Sunday expected to be the busiest with about 58,000 people flying on each day.

But some departing passengers could be getting a break from congestion if they are chosen to participate in an expedited federal security program, which now is available for passengers of participating airlines at checkpoints at all four airside terminals at Tampa International.

As of 7 a.m., airport officials say there were 25 delays out of Tampa, with eight departures averaging 30 minutes and 17 arrivals averaging 40 minutes. The delayed flights are departing and arriving from various regions, including those from the Northeast and some areas of the South affected by weather.

“Be sure to get to the airport 90 minutes ahead of your domestic flight,” said Janet Zink, Tampa International vice president of media and government relations. “Some passengers will be able to get through security more quickly, but be sure to allow plenty of time.”

Some passengers are eligible for the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program through U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Travelers programs and through a PreCheck frequent flyer program with six participating airlines at Tampa International - American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United and US AIrways.

Security officials also are selecting certain passengers to proceed through security check points without removing belts, shoes, light jackets and enabling them to keep laptops in cases and liquids in carry-on bags.

“Many more people will be experiencing the ease of the TSA PreCheck lanes this holiday season,” TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz in Miami said in an email.

“Those passengers will find ‘TSAPreCheck’ written on their boarding pass and they will know they have been selected for that particular flight after we have proactively prescreened them using our Secure Flight system,” she said.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

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