AUSTIN, Texas — Changes are arriving at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) just in time for a busy summer travel season, and TSA workers want to help you get to your destination smoothly.
Alex and his family waited patiently to check in to their flights for their first vacation since the pandemic.
"First vacation in 16 months and also visiting some schools in New York and Boston for my daughter who is a junior at Westlake High School," said Alex.
Charlen Hill saw her grandson for the first time in over a year.
"I don't want to send him back but I have to because he has school," said Hill.
Air travel is inching closer to normal. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is predicting this Friday before Memorial Day will be the busiest travel day of the year with more than 23,000 passengers. To put that into perspective, on the Friday before Memorial day in 2019, 28,852 passengers went through AUS, and in 2020 it was only about 3,702 passengers.
"Before you start packing make sure you know what's in your carry-on. Empty it out and leave the prohibited items at home," said TSA public affairs spokesperson Patricia Mancha. "What I mean by that are knives, stun guns, pepper spray, novelty items like grenades and toy guns."
All of these items were found at security checkpoints this month alone. Mancha said with the combination of new technology and people readjusting to traveling again, they've ceased more guns this year per traveler than ever before.
Recently they've seen a trend of hidden items, like a comb that converts into a knife and a phone that's actually a Taser. TSA is urging passengers to check their carry-ons before arriving to the airport.
Passengers arriving at AUS will have more direct flights, shopping and dining options as well as a new way to find sanitation stations.
New routes to Aspen, Boise, Burbank, Destin, Honolulu, Nassau and Pensacola are just a few of the more than 65 nonstop destinations available to travelers this summer from AUS.
AUS also launched a new online way-finding platform in partnership with LocusLabs to help travelers navigate the airport.
According to AUS, travelers can find the closest restroom, sanitizing stations and restaurants using the digital map. The map also provides real-time information on everything from locations for garage locations, shops, restaurants, to changes in gate assignments and the latest pandemic protocols. The map can be accessed via the AUS website.
As the number of vaccinated people in Austin increases, AUS is welcoming more travelers to the terminal. The latest available data shows 841,089 passengers flew through AUS in April. This number is close to what the airport saw in the 2016 summer travel season, but still down 30% compared to the airport’s all-time passenger record set in 2019.
To be prepared for a smooth trip, AUS urges travelers to stay up to date on the airport's new changes.
AUS offers the following tips for travelers:
- Before arriving, know from which terminal your flight departs.
- Economy parking is now open as a walk-in lot for $8 per day with complimentary tram service. Garage parking is still available at reduced rates, with reservations available online at www.abiaparking.com.
- Arrive at least two hours early for your flight during peak travel times and at least 90 minutes early during non-peak times. You can view real-time security checkpoint wait times online.
- Masks are required when inside the terminal. Federal mask policies remain in effect at AUS and all other U.S. airports as part of TSA order issued in April.
- Arriving passengers are encouraged to exit upstairs and get picked up on the upper departure level of the terminal to help reduce lower-level curbside traffic.
- Highway construction around the airport, roadway traffic and weather can impact your drive times. Check highway conditions ahead of time.
- TSA allows one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice.
- Walk-up and drive-thru COVID-19 testing is now available onsite near the AUS Cell Phone Lot.
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