Tampa International Airport was experiencing increased passenger volumes in the baggage claim areas and significant overcrowding at individual claim devices. Since modern aircraft are larger than those in service when the terminal was originally constructed, the claim devices had become undersized. The airport was also dealing with bottlenecks caused by the claim devices being too close to the elevator/escalator cores, and by the location of the seating and luggage carts. To make matters worse, the poor lighting in the area around the claim devices further added to passenger discomfort.

Gresham Smith designed a new wayfinding system for the 20,000-square-foot bag claim addition, that includes digital signage, with a cohesive design that introduces consistency and reinforces airport branding, and larger, easier-to-read graphics. In addition to the permanent wayfinding system, the team also designed a multi-phased, temporary wayfinding program, uniquely developed to meet the passengers’ needs during construction.

The firm also provided design, baggage consulting and engineering services the interior renovation of all existing bag claim areas and the replacement of all bag claim units. The project was built in phases to allow all of the operations taking place within the terminal building to continue concurrent with construction. Designers acknowledged the sensitive nature of the project, keeping in mind that the baggage claim devices being replaced were utilized by all airlines providing service to TPA and all arriving passengers who checked bags.

There has been a vast improvement in the passenger flow at the baggage claim entry/circulation points since this project completed. Bottlenecks have been eliminated and the increase in square footage allows passengers to easily maneuver around the claim devices and Smart Carte locations even during peak times. JD Power & Associates has cited TPA’s baggage claim as one of the areas that provides the highest level of service to TPA passengers.


Hillsborough County Aviation Authority


Tampa, Florida

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Grant Clifford, RIBA, LEED AP
Grant Clifford, RIBA, LEED AP
Senior Vice President