Formula 1 fans leave town, long lines at ABIA

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

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kvue.com

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 8:03 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 1:03 PM

AUSTIN -- The mass exodus is underway at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport as Austin's inaugural Formula 1 race ends. ABIA is anticipating the largest crowds of the F1 weekend as fans leave town.

"[The line] looks a little bit long," said Camilo Robayo of Colombia as he stood in the bag check line at the counter for Delta Airlines.

ABIA is anticipating several thousand more departing passengers than a typical Monday. ABIA officials say they're expecting 21,800 departing passengers Monday. By comparison, Oct. 15 (Austin City Limits) departures were over 18,000.

"This is just part of it. When you have that many people who want to be someplace you're going to have lines. We're here for the fun of it; we're not here to worry about the lines or worry about the travel," said Phil Lower of Georgia.

Airport spokesperson Jim Halbrook says lines for security checkpoints on Monday could stretch out for about an hour.

"On commercial flights alone there are 2,500 extra seats available to get passengers out of this airport so that's going to make it a little bit busier than a Monday," said Halbrook.

ABIA activated a new, fourth security checkpoint to help process passengers, but some still worried whether they gave themselves enough time to make it through.

“[I came] an hour and three quarters. Hopefully that's enough right?” said Paul Charsley of England.  

As the crowd grew early Monday morning, TSA agents stretched rope lines for security checkpoints out the front door. Outside car rental companies took in a steady stream of customers.

"We're going to have 5,000 plus rental cars returned today. On a normal busy rental car return day, it's 2,000. That's a lot of cars, on the roadway, converging on the airport," explained Halbrook.

ABIA is urging departing passengers to arrive two hours before their schedule flight and additional time for anyone who is returning a rental car.

To check the status of a flight click here.

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