As Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) prepares for a record-breaking summer, passengers flying out for Memorial Day Weekend should too. “Plan ahead, arrive early, and pack your patience” is AUS’s advice for what the airport expects to be the busiest Memorial Day travel time in the airport’s history.
Memorial Day Weekend traditionally signals the start of summer travel, but AUS daily passenger numbers have already been climbing. Austinites and Central Texans are starting their summer travel earlier than in previous years. Airport officials expect every day to be a high passenger volume day through the end of summer.
An estimated 22 million passengers will fly out of AUS this year, making 2022 a record-breaking year. The increase in passengers comes after significant growth and investment in Austin by the airlines. This year’s growth signifies AUS’s strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with new airlines, new nonstop destinations, and more flights. This summer, when compared to 2019, AUS airlines have added upwards of 32% more available seats for passengers in May, June, and July.
“The growth Austin has experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredible,” said Gina Fiandaca, Assistant City Manager of the SD23 Mobility Outcome. “New businesses moving to Austin and recovering business travel, as well as a renewed desire for families and communities to connect, continues to drive strong demand for air travel at our airport. Over the past year, AUS has expanded our community’s ability to travel to more destinations than ever before, connecting us to places such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt, Germany, and more. Our Department of Aviation staff continues to advance progress on expansion and development improvements while collaborating with airport business partners to address the immediate needs of travelers.”
Last summer, peak travel days at AUS were Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays, mainly before 8 a.m. But heading into summer 2022, passengers can expect every day of the week to be busy. More flights are scheduled to connect travelers to over 90 nonstop destinations, including upcoming launches of nonstop service to Vancouver, Canada, Cozumel, Mexico, Montego Bay, Jamaica and more.
“Our COVID-19 recovery has been stronger than we ever could have imagined, which is why AUS is the strongest-recovering and fastest-growing airport in the U.S. based on seat capacity increases,” said Jacqueline Yaft, AUS Chief Executive Officer. “With unprecedented growth comes unprecedented challenges. We continue to work with our airlines, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and concession partners to address staffing shortages that lead to lines and delays. AUS is also committed to delivering an improved passenger experience through our Airport Expansion and Development Program (AEDP). This summer, we will break ground on the first series of construction projects.”
Those near-term AEDP projects will accommodate future passenger demand and include a new outbound baggage handling system and Gate 13 renovation to maximize capacity for flights. As well, the Department of Aviation, along with airport business partners such as concession operators, airlines, the TSA, and more, are hiring for full and part-time positions. For airport employment opportunities, visit AustinTexas.gov/AUSJobs.
When to arrive at AUS
To help manage summer travel through AUS, passengers using general security should arrive at least two and a half hours before boarding domestic flights and three hours before boarding international flights, regardless of the day of week or time of day their flight is scheduled.
Travelers should budget extra time if they need to check luggage, return a rental car, or complete other activities before joining the security screening lines. First-time flyers, travelers who have not flown in years, large groups, and those traveling with small children should also give themselves extra time.
Preparing for TSA screening and packing properly
Security screening checkpoints open at 3:00 a.m. TSA PreCheck and Clear screening are available at Checkpoints 1 and 2 West. All four checkpoints lead to all gates and airlines in the Barbara Jordan Terminal.
TSA security delays can occur when passengers accidentally pack prohibited items in their carry-on luggage. To help avoid delays, passengers should review what they can and can’t bring with them through security at TSA.gov.
Parking and or dropping off passengers
An increase in travelers means more vehicles at AUS. Drivers dropping off passengers can use either the upper level for departures or the lower level for arrivals to ease congestion. Passengers dropped off at the lower level can quickly get upstairs to ticketing and security using escalators and elevators. If the lower level is congested, arriving passengers can use escalators and elevators to be picked up on the upper level.
Travelers looking to park onsite can visit ABIAParking.com to reserve a parking space and check for real-time parking availability before arriving at the airport.
Uber, Lyft, Wingz, or other rideshares use a tram service available on the first floor of the Red garage to take passengers to the rideshare pick-up area located on the ground floor underneath the rental car facility.
Checking into your flight
Travelers without checked luggage can bypass the ticket counters and head immediately to TSA screening checkpoints using these time-saving flight check-in options:
- Use the lower curbside and upper curbside for drop-off — from the lower level, passengers can quickly get upstairs to ticketing and security via escalators and elevators.
- Self-service flight check-in kiosks that allow travelers to print their boarding passes and bag tags are available inside the terminal, across from the airline ticket counters.
- In addition to traditional check-in procedures, some airlines offer outside curbside check-in on the upper level.
- Travelers can also save time by checking in for their flight using their airlines’ mobile app and a mobile boarding pass.
Getting the most out of AUS
Once inside the terminal, travelers can explore new art installations, concession offerings, live music stages, and more using step-by-step directions on the AUS digital wayfinding map at AirportMaps.AustinTexas.gov.
While airport restaurant hours may vary pending concession company staffing levels, AUS has invested in new self-service kiosks that are available 24/7 for passengers to purchase snacks, beverages, and travel necessities, including made-and-delivered-daily Sprinkles Cupcakes.
Information for Allegiant and Frontier travelers
Travelers flying with Allegiant and Frontier will depart from The South Terminal. All other airlines operate out of the main Barbara Jordan Terminal. The two terminals are not connected and must be accessed separately. The South Terminal is located near US 183 and Burleson Road, at 10000 Logistics Lane, Austin. Travelers can use the shuttle bus, which picks up from the departure level of the curbside, to travel from the Barbara Jordan Terminal to The South Terminal.