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Tampa, SRQ passengers: what you need to know for July 4 travel

Travelers flying from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Tampa International Airport shouldn’t have to worry about increased security wait times for travel during the July 4th weekend.

After the suicide attacks at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, TIA increased its uniformed and plainclothes police officer presence. And SRQ recently upgraded day-to-day security measures to prepare for possible terrorist or active shooter attacks.

U.S. travel to and from Ataturk, the third busiest in Europe, has resumed in time for the weekend, when a record 43 million Americans are expected to travel for the holiday, according to the American Automobile Association.

But the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning to Turkey on Monday due to “increased threats of terrorist groups,” and urged U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border.

At least 41 people were killed after three suicide bombers attacked the airport this week. In January, a suicide bombing killed a dozen tourists. Another suicide bomber attack at a busy Istanbul shopping center in March killed four. The Canadian and United Kingdom governments issued similar warnings.

TPA has put additional security measures in place after the Istanbul attacks. All regular security protocol at TPA and SRQ remain in place.

“Our passengers will notice an increased presence in uniformed police in the terminal area,” said Christine Osborn, communications manager for TPA. “They’ll also see more patrols by police canines. But there's also things they may not see, such as a plainclothes law enforcement officer in the terminal.”

TPA has not seen any increased wait times at security checkpoints, Osborn said. According to the Transportation Security Administration’s online checkpoint wait time lookup on Thursday, TPA and SRQ checkpoints had no wait. Osborn recommends passengers allow a minimum 90 minutes for going through security checkpoints.

TPA police and staff have coordinated training for active shooter situations as well, Osborn said.

SRQ President Rick Piccolo said the airport’s recent boost in security precautions, as detailed in a Bradenton Herald report earlier this week, were done to stay ahead of attacks like the one in Istanbul this week.

“We did this a few months ago after San Bernardino,” Piccolo said. “We changed the way we do business from a security standpoint and have maintained that ever since.”

Neither TPA nor SRQ has flights to or from Ataturk International Airport.

Travel to Turkey

Daily direct flights from Miami to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines have resumed, the Miami Herald reports. Cruise lines are considering adjustments to popular summer Mediterranean itineraries.

Turkish Airlines advised passengers booked on flights to or from Istanbul between June 28 and July 5 that it will issue refunds; requests are due by July 31.

Doral-based Carnival Corporation’s Princess Cruises, Cunard Line and Holland America Line are evaluating Istanbul stops scheduled for mid-July to August, said spokesman Roger Frizzell. Princess Cruises, which is set to stop in Istanbul next week with its 3,600-passenger Royal Princess, has not yet said if it will move to another port.

Carnival Cruise Line is also assessing a stop on July 17 to Kusadasi, Turkey, about 350 miles south of Istanbul, Frizzell said.

A Saturday sailing from Istanbul planned for Carnival Corp. luxury line Seabourn will leave from Athens instead, the cruise line said. Four other departures from Istanbul between July 30 and Oct. 22 are slated to depart as scheduled.

Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises is canceling all upcoming Istanbul stops on its Celebrity Cruises line and replacing them with a stop in Athens, Greece, instead, said Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for the parent company.

The seven sailings affected: July 9, July 16, Aug. 29 and Sept. 16 on the Celebrity Equinox, and Oct. 10, Oct. 21 and Nov. 14 on the Celebrity Constellation.

Following the January attacks, many lines limited port calls in Turkey.

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings canceled all 2016 Turkey stops on its three brands, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises early this year. In May, the cruise line extended that suspension to all 2017 sailings as well, said spokeswoman Vanessa Picariello.

That same month, luxury line Crystal Cruises re-routed planned stops to Istanbul and Kusadasi aboard the Crystal Symphony on April 24 and May 1 with various Greek ports. Turkish ports of call originally planned for the line’s new luxury yacht, the Crystal Esprit, in April and November were also eliminated.

Travel insurance can help

Most travel insurance plans include coverage in the event of a terrorist attack, said John Cook, president of travel insurance comparison site QuoteWright. Typically, attacks within 30 days prior to a city on an insured itinerary trigger a provision allowing travelers to cancel and receive a full refund.

If an attack occurs after travel begins, plans typically refund the remainder of the trip, including scheduled tours, and pay for airfare to return home. Additional expenses, such as hotel bookings, incurred due to flight delays are also generally covered, Cook said.

Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to the Middle East, he said, but also be aware of what is covered by their travel insurance before booking a trip.

“If people have trips, they have to analyze their own level of risk tolerance if they are going to Turkey,” Cook said. “I would hate to see people deferred from travel because that achieves a certain degree of success for the terrorists.”

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald, contributed to this report.

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