Southwest Florida Airports serving the Anna Maria Island and Bradenton area.
Tampa International (TPA), Sarasota (SRQ), Orlando (MCO), Southwest Florida International Airport – Fort Myers (RSW), St Petersburg Airport (PIE), Punta Gorda Airport (PDG)
Tampa International Airport (TPA) after almost six years of driving tourist and vacationers to their destinations in southwest Florida, I believe that TPA is the best airport I have driven to or from on the southwest coast of Florida.
The Tampa airport terminals are well laid out, and most important they are easy for tourist and drivers to navigate.
There are two terminals, the BLUE side and the RED side. Both terminals and the AIRLINES they service are clearly marked and indicated as you approach the terminals.
Recently an express departure and express pickup have been added to the Tampa airport and they are located on the BLUE side departure and arrival levels. These areas serve both the BLUE and RED terminals regardless to your respective airlines. These express levels help elevate the crowded conditions in the normal departure and arrival areas.
It should be noted the express departure is for people who have carry-on luggage only, their tickets and boarding pass. The express arrival pickup area is for people arriving at the airport who have carry-on luggage only. You will not be able to access the baggage claim belts in this area unless you re-enter the airport terminal and go to your respective baggage claim belt.
The cellphone lot has two paved sections with an abundance of parking areas. Each section has a large billboard style arrival screen to inform waiting people when their flight will arrive. The cellphone lots are about 5 minutes from both terminals.
TPA has a very large parking area, nine stories, attached to the airport terminals. It is convenient to park here and meet an incoming passenger on the third floor. As a bonus TPA has one hour of free parking.
The drive time to Anna Maria Island and other nearby areas is approximately one hour depending on the time of the day.
Sarasota – Bradenton Airport is a small airport that was constructed at or during WWII.
There are two sections of the airport. The arrival section is on the West end, and the departure is located on the East side with both sections sharing the same road. Auto traffic at SRQ is normally very congested.
A fee is charged for parking at the airport. The cellphone lot is a small dirt lot that does not provide any arrival information. If picking up persons at SRQ you might consider using an APP like FLIGHT STATUS to check airline arrival times. Many people park on the side of the local roads or even at the terminal waiting for arrivals even though curb side parking is prohibited.
SRQ is approximately 45 minutes to AMI and 30 minutes to the Bradenton area.
Flight information for SRQ can also be found at – flysrq.com.
Airline cost are normally a few hundred more expensive than the same airline ticket at TPA.
Saint Petersburg – Clearwater (PIE) is a small airport located near Clearwater Florida.
PIE only services two airlines, Allegiant and Sun Country. A cellphone lot is located very close to the terminal. The terminal has two sections spanning about a quarter of a mile, departures and arrivals. PIE does have a large paid parking area.
PIE is approximately 1 hour to AMI and 45 minutes to the Bradenton area.
Flight information can be found at fly2pie.com or flightstats.com
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
More website information on MCO
MCO is a very large international airport spanning a very large area serving many national and international airlines. MCO has three terminal complexes’: ‘A’ – ‘B’ – ‘C’.
Each terminal has a separate arrival and departure entrance. All of the terminals are well marked with adequate driving directions.
MCO processes a large number of people, and the terminals can be very confusing. Many large groups going to Disney type attractions pass through MCO. The security lines passing through TSA are normally very long and it is best to give yourself more than adequate time. If you have not used MCO before it is recommended that you explore the MCO website. MCO suggest an arrival time 3 hours before flight departure time.
A cellphone lot is located at the entrance of the airport off Jeff Fuqua Blvd. The cellphone lot does not have a visual board showing arrival times. Information can be found at – MCO flight information.
The driving traffic on I-4 to MCO is extremely heavy, and you WILL encounter many traffic jams and backups. Driving to MCO during the day or early evening hours can take from two hours to almost three hours.