Austin’s airport has been cleared for takeoff.
Austin Bergstrom International Airport has been ranked among the country’s best since it opened in 1999. Housing only local shops and restaurants, travelers from around the world can enjoy a Salt Lick BBQ sandwich or a Ruta Maya coffee, even if Austin is only an hour-long layover along their journey.
What’s the story behind ABIA’s success? The airport is continuing to expand while emphasizing what currently works. Here’s how they’re doing that:
1. Virgin comes to Austin
In February, Virgin Airlines announced their opening in Austin, featuring daily nonstop service to San Francisco. The flights were launched in May, complete with a celebration with Virgin CEO David Cush and Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “This new service will increase travel demand, offer convenient new options for business and leisure travelers, and spur local economic growth,” the mayor said at the celebration. Virgin’s arrival brings ABIA’s number of commercial airlines (and their regional partners) to 11.
2. More checkpoints, shorter wait
ABIA recently finished construction on a fourth security checkpoint that operates during busy times like mornings and holidays. In the future, a permanent checkpoint is expected.
3. Even more Austin grub
Twist of Spice, locally owned by a mother and daughter, is a food trailer in ABIA’s cell phone waiting lot. The lot opened in 2011 and allows people picking up passengers to wait for a call that tells them they’re outside. Inside the terminal, Ruta Maya and Annie’s Café and Bar opened across from each other in the fall of last year.
4. ABIA gets PreCheck
ABIA announced in March the adoption of TSA PreCheck. The program allows certain qualified, pre-screened travelers to go through security without removing their shoes or jackets, opening their computer cases and more.
5. The Terminal East Infill Project
The Terminal East Infill Project is a plan designed by to ABIA team to match the airport’s growth to the increase in the number of travelers. If approved, the plan would add over 50,000 square feet to the terminal. The Austin City Council will vote on a $62 million funding plan for the expansion at its Ag. 8 meeting.