Austin is lucky in many ways, and one of them is that traffic in the city—except perhaps near the malls on Black Friday—is usually manageable during big holidays (even the UT Longhorns are playing their Thanksgiving football game in Kansas).
At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, however, it’s a different story. The day before Thanksgiving is historically one of the most hectic travel days of the year—and Austin’s airport won’t be immune to chaos. ABIA has listed its usual flurry of airport travel tips, some of which are below.
You probably know the drill with most of that, but its important to note that the airport has changed its pick-up spot for taxis and ride-hailing vehicles as well as its drop-off location for offsite rental cars. All will operate from the ground level of the Rental Car facility. Walkways to reach the new area and color coding have been installed. Officials estimate that the move will reduce roadway congestion at the Barbara Jordan Terminal by approximately 3,700 cars per day.
Below are some of ABIA’s more important holiday travel tips. You can read the full list on the airport’s website or check out Curbed Austin’s airport guide for more info.
Austin Airport holiday travel tips
- Know which terminal you will leave from and return to. The South Terminal, at 10000 Logistics Lane, is a separate facility with separate access from the rest of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport as well as its own parking lot. Allegiant, Frontier, Via passengers go to the South Terminal. Travelers should be aware that off-airport parking does not serve the South Terminal. Passengers are encouraged to park at the South Terminal which provides more than 1,000 parking spaces. The South Terminal is accessed from Burleson Road between US Highway 183 South and FM 973.
- Check flight status with airline or online.
- Arrive in the terminal at least two hours before departures during peak times (5–8 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m,. and 3:30–5:30 p.m) and 90 minutes before departure time during off-peak hours.
- Factor in highway conditions, including highway construction around the airport, roadway traffic, and weather.
- Airport Barbara Jordan Terminal parking updates are available 24/7 at (512) 530-3300.
- Check the TSA site for a list of permitted and prohibited items and the ABIA site video and for tips on how to pack and make it through passenger screening smoothly.
The city’s metro and bus service will be limited to Sunday-level service on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22—No MetroRail, UT Service, Night Owl or E-Bus and to Saturday-level service— No MetroRail, UT Service, or E-Bus—on Friday, November 23.
Travel by car
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has updates on current highway and lane closures due to construction.
Google has a handy, searchable page where you can find the best time to leave town by car from some U.S. cities. Austin’s not on it, but in most places the best time to leave town is as early as possible Thursday morning, and the worst time to leave is around 3 p.m. on the Wednesday before (November 21). Returning is best done as early as possible on Friday morning, with, again, Friday afternoon being the worst.