Tips for navigating holiday air travel

Holiday travel season is here, and although you’ve probably heard it a thousand times, it bears repeating: Don’t take chances. Plan, get to the airport early and follow airport travel tips.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has released its holiday travel guidance, and while it’s designed for the Austin airport, most of the advice applies to our airports in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, among others.

AUS said airlines operated 5% more flights this November than last year. This means there are 6% more airline seats for sale.

The busiest stretch this week is Friday through Monday, November 27.

Getting to the airport

AUS said it expects extra traffic around the airport over the holidays. It is advisable to have a back-up travel plan in case of serious traffic, breakdown or collision. You can check real-time traffic information at

Best arrival times

AUS says you should arrive at least 2.5 hours before departure for a domestic flight. Got an international flight? Make it three hours.

Security checkpoints open at 3:30am

If you need to check bags, return a rental vehicle, or complete other activities before queuing for security, arrive even earlier.

Security packaging

Leave your firearm at home. Seriously. This year saw a record number of weapons found at checkpoints. TSA prohibits firearms in carry-on luggage.

Also, do not take liquids or aerosols larger than 3.4 ounces through security. This will hold the line. To see what will fly with TSA, visit

If you are arriving at your destination with gifts, the TSA recommends waiting until you get there to wrap them.

Parking and dropping off passengers

If you plan to park at the Austin airport, visit or call 512-530-3300 to check for available spaces. Bookings for November 23 and 24 are already sold out.

If you will be using the economy lot, please add an additional arrival time. A shuttle to the terminal runs every 15-20 minutes.

Use either the upper level for departures or the lower level for arrivals. If the lower level for arrivals is spare, use the upper level to pick someone up.

Supporting mobility and accessibility

Passengers requiring a wheelchair should contact their airline in advance of travel to arrange the service. AUS has a mobility assistance area that provides access for wheelchair accessible vehicles, taxis and rideshares to collect passengers with reduced mobility. Located on the lower level curb, one lane across from the G and H pickup areas.

You can also request TSA Cares Assistance. This is a helpline that provides passengers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances with additional assistance during the security screening process. Call 72 hours before departure. The number is 855-787-2227.

Flight check-in

Use a mobile boarding pass instead of airline ticket counters. You can also access a self-service kiosk to print your boarding pass. Some airlines offer check-in from the side of the upper floor. Passengers without checked bags can bypass the airline ticket counters and head straight to TSA checkpoints.

Allegiant and Frontier travelers

If you’re flying Allegiant or Frontier, you’ll depart from the South Terminal, which is near US 183 and Burleson Road, at 1000 Logistics Lane. A shuttle is available from Barbara Jordan Terminal, but Allegiant and Frontier passengers are encouraged to park in the South Terminal.

If you need assistance, we encourage you to call the Airport Operations Center at 512-530-2242.

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