Wednesday, November 16, 2022

AUS prepares passengers for busy Thanksgiving season ahead, launches new Skysquad service for travelers

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is preparing for a busy Thanksgiving season on the heels of a record-breaking October and nearing the end of a year that saw unprecedented demand for air travel. Ahead of and during Thanksgiving, AUS is advising travelers to expect a busier than usual terminal during Friday, November 18 through Monday, November 28.
 
In addition to unprecedented demand for air travel, this year, airlines are offering 35% more seats compared to November 2019.  We ask passengers, especially those who may not have flown in a while and families traveling with children, to be prepared and plan accordingly when flying AUS.
 
Starting November 21st, just in time for the holiday travel season, AUS will offer a new service known as SkySquad, which connects passengers with a trained, pre-vetted airport assistant to provide an extra pair of hands from the curbside to their gate (from ticketing, checking bags, loading items onto the security belt, keeping an eye on travel items when they go to the restroom and more). Passengers need to book 24 hours in advance. Visit the SkySquad website or call (877) 359-2256.

Passengers should keep in mind what they need to do ahead of their trip; here are some tips for our Thanksgiving guests:
 
When to arrive at AUS

  • Passengers using general Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening should arrive at least 2.5 hours before departure for domestic flights and 3 hours before departure for international flights.
  • Passengers that need to check luggage, return a rental car or complete other activities before joining the TSA security line should arrive even earlier.
  • TSA PreCheck and Clear users can expect a faster security process than those using general TSA screening. On-site TSA PreCheck enrollment is now offered to departing passengers after they are cleared through security through a new enrollment program, which you can learn more about here.

Security screening & packing correctly

  • AUS has 4 security screening checkpoints and all checkpoints lead to all gates. 
  • The TSA has reported that AUS passengers continue to bring a record number of guns to security checkpoints this year. Bringing prohibited items, such as firearms and liquids exceeding 3.4 oz., will cause delays for passengers. Passengers can visit TSA.gov for guidance on how to pack and what items are allowed in carry-on luggage.
  • For passengers traveling with food, meat, seafood, vegetables and other non-liquid food items are permitted in both carry-on and checked bags. If the food is packed with ice or ice packs in a cooler or other container, the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen when brought through screening. If the ice or ice packs are partially melted and have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they will not be permitted.
  • If you are traveling with gifts, TSA recommends sending gifts ahead by mail, or waiting to wrap them until you arrive at your destination.

Parking and/or dropping off passengers

  • Visit ABIAParking.com if you're planning to park at AUS. You can reserve a parking space and check for real-time parking availability before arriving at the airport. With many families headed out of Austin for the holiday, we highly recommend reserving a space in advance – reservations will fill up fast.
  • Passengers should budget in extra arrival time for shuttle service to the terminal as it runs approximately every 15-20 minutes.
  • Use either the upper level for departures or the lower level for arrivals to drop off passengers. And vice versa - if you're picking up someone and the lower level for arrivals is backed up, go to the upper-level departures and pick up from there. Use whichever level is least congested.

Mobility assistance and accessibility needs

  • Passengers who require wheelchair assistance need to contact their airline prior to their travel date to set up the service.
  • AUS has a new Mobility Lounge for passengers using wheelchairs and other mobility assistive devices located on the ticketing/departures level.
    • AUS also has a new Mobility Assistance Zone, which provides priority access for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs), taxis and rideshares to pick-up passengers with limited mobility. It is located on the lower level curbside one lane across from the G and H pick-up areas; it is free and open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. 
  • Consider requesting TSA Cares Assistance. TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. Contact them at (855) 787-2227.

Checking into your flight

  • Airline ticket counters open at various times. Passengers should contact the airline directly for hours of operation.
  • Passengers without checked luggage can bypass the busy airline ticket counters and head immediately to TSA screening checkpoints using these time-saving flight check-in options:
    • Use a mobile boarding pass to skip the airline ticket counters.
    • Use a self-service kiosk located inside the terminal to print boarding passes.
    • In addition to traditional check-in procedures, some airlines offer outside curbside check-in on the upper level.

Getting the most out of AUS

  • Once inside, explore the food, new art installations, live music stages, shopping and more using step-by-step directions on the AUS digital wayfinding map at AirportMaps.AustinTexas.gov.

Information for Allegiant and Frontier travelers

  • Passengers flying Allegiant or Frontier will depart from The South Terminal, which is a separate terminal located near US 183 and Burleson Road at 10000 Logistics Lane. This terminal is not accessible from the main Barbara Jordan Terminal. While we do provide shuttle service to the terminal, we encourage Allegiant and Frontier passengers to park on-site at the South Terminal to save time.

Passengers needing assistance at any point in their journey at AUS are encouraged to call the Airport Operations Center at (512) 530-2242 or to ask any Department of Aviation staff member for assistance.

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