Flying out of Austin for Thanksgiving? Expect busy terminals, airport says

To help passengers with upcoming Thanksgiving trips, the airport will offer a new service called SkySquad.

AUSTIN, Texas – With Thanksgiving just a week away, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) expects a busy travel season. The airport is advising travelers to expect a busier terminal than usual from Friday 18 November to Monday 28 November.

Although the airport has seen unprecedented air travel so far this year, the airport told airlines offer 35% more seats than in November 2019. Even then, airport officials are asking passengers, especially those who have not flown for a long time and families traveling with children, to prepare for this season and plan accordingly.

To help passengers with upcoming Thanksgiving trips, the airport will offer a new service called SkySquad. The service connects passengers with a trained airport assistant who escorts passengers from the curb to their gate, assisting them with ticket purchases, baggage screening, loading items onto the seatbelt, monitoring travel items and more.

Passengers can book an assistant 24 hours in advance SkySquad website or by calling 877-359-2256.

The airport also shared tips to keep in mind when planning Thanksgiving travel:

when to arrive

The airport said passengers using general TSA screening should arrive at least 2.5 hours before departure for domestic flights and 3 hours before departure for international flights.

Passengers who need to check in baggage, return a rental car, or complete other activities before joining the TSA security line are advised to arrive even earlier.

To expedite the process, passengers can register with the TSA PreCheck. On-site registration will be offered to departing passengers after they clear security, the airport said in a statement. Learn more about the program here.

Security control and packaging

The airport has four security checkpoints. All lead to all gates.

TSA has told the airport that passengers continue to bring a record number of guns to security checkpoints this year, an item that is prohibited. Bringing such items will cause delays for passengers. Check out the instructions on how to pack and what items are allowed on the TSA website.

Non-liquid foods are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage. 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 they are brought through the screening. If the ice or ice packs are partially melted and there is liquid at the bottom of the container, they are not allowed.

TSA recommends mailing gifts ahead of time or waiting to wrap until you arrive at your destination.

Parking and disembarking passengers

If you want to park at the airport, visit the parking website. You can reserve a parking space and check real-time parking space availability before you arrive at the airport.

The airport recommends reserving a space in advance as it fills up quickly.

Passengers should also allow extra time for the shuttle service to the terminal, which runs approximately every 15 to 20 minutes.

Travelers can use either the upper Departures level or the lower Arrivals level to drop off passengers. Conversely, if you are picking someone up and the lower level for arrivals is congested, go to the upper level for departures and pick them up there. Use the level that has the least congestion.

Mobility and accessibility requirements

Passengers requiring wheelchair assistance must contact their airline prior to travel date to set up the service.

The airport said it has a new mobility lounge for passengers using wheelchairs and other mobility equipment, located at the ticket/departure level. The airport also has a new mobility assistance zone that provides priority access for wheelchair-accessible vehicles, taxis and ride-sharing services to pick up mobility-impaired passengers.

It is located on the lower curb, one lane across from pickup areas G and H; It’s free and open daily from 7am to 2am

The airport said travelers can also request assistance through TSA Cares Assistance. The Helpline provides additional assistance during security screening for travelers with disabilities, medical screenings and other special circumstances. Call the line at 855-787-2227.

Check into your flight

The airport said airline ticket offices are open at different times. Passengers can contact the airline directly for operating hours.

Passengers without checked baggage can bypass the ticket counters and proceed to TSA checkpoints by:

  • Use a mobile boarding pass to skip airline ticket counters
  • Use a self-service kiosk in the terminal to print boarding passes
  • In addition to traditional check-in procedures, some airlines offer off-site curbside check-in on the upper level

Allegiant and frontier travelers

Passengers flying Allegiant or Frontier will depart from South Terminal, a separate terminal located off US 183 and Burleson Road, 10000 Logistics Lane.

This terminal is not accessible from the main Barbara Jordan terminal. The airport offers shuttle service to the terminal and encourages Allegiant and Frontier passengers to park on-site at the South Terminal to save time.

Passengers who require assistance at the airport at any point during their journey are asked to call the Airport Operations Center at 512-530-2242 or to ask a Department of Aviation official for assistance.

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Laura Coffey

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