Austin airport prepares for holiday traffic

Baggage area at ABIA. (KXAN Photo/Calily Bien)
Baggage area at ABIA during Christmastime. (KXAN Photo/Calily Bien)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you’re headed to the airport (along with everybody else) this week, make sure you’re prepared for potentially full parking lots and long security lines. More than 100 million Americans are expected to travel to see family this week. AAA says that’s a record for the Christmas holiday.

AAA says most people, about 90 percent of travelers, (91.3 million people) will drive to their destinations. Cheaper gas prices may be the reason. The national average is about $2 per gallon. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are six percent lower this holiday season, falling to an average of $174 roundtrip.

“I think they’re doing a seasonal service so they’re offering a pretty good rate right now. So this will be my first time to fly Southwest to Memphis, when all these years I flew on some other airlines,” says J. Paul Knight, who’s traveling to Memphis to see family.

Travelers are urged to get to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at least 90 minutes before departure time. The first passenger screening checkpoint opens at 4 a.m. If you’re parking your car in the airport lots, you can check real-time ABIA parking information here.

Last December, passenger traffic at ABIA was 918,814, which was up 7 percent compared to December 2013.

Over the past 12 months, ABIA has seen some changes. In October, the new car rental facility opened—consolidating all rental car operations in one place. The same month, heavy rains damaged the air traffic control tower, causing delays for weeks.

If you’re traveling on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, traffic isn’t expected to be too bad. The busiest time for travel is expected to be Sunday, Jan. 3, when everyone is rushing home from the holidays.

You can also track flights arriving and departing Austin here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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