One of the biggest complaints about the new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has been the lack of space to stand in the security lines. TSA is making two tent rooms under the departure and arrival plazas to hold travelers during the most popular times on weekdays. The TSA is considering adding more space by starting the construction of a new passenger terminal that would allow up to 20 gates.

In a world of exploding passenger numbers, it’s hard to get excited about an airport that’s issuing an apology for being overcapacity. The latest airport to open its doors is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. And, as the airport is still being built, it’s operating at near full capacity. In fact, it is so full that it is now issuing an apology for its overcapacity.

Austin airport is so busy that passengers have to wait outside in a tent

Gary Leff 16. July 2021

Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and has been for several years. Shortly after I arrived in 2014, Jon Stewart hosted his show from the city and sent a reporter to the border to cover the immigration issue. Borderline Austin. Interviews with the man in the street usually yielded comments like this from residents: Austin isn’t like it was when I moved here. …. six days ago.

Austin’s airport is also developing rapidly. Barbara Jordan’s main terminal opened 37% more exits two years ago, and that’s not enough. American Airlines isn’t even the biggest airline in town, but in just two years it has tripled the number of destinations it serves. Southwest is also growing, and Delta counts Austin as a major city.

To further expand the airport, it is planned to demolish the terminal for low-cost airlines to make way for new taxiways and build a central hall for the main terminal.

The low-cost southern terminal opened in 2017 and currently serves Allegiant and Frontier airlines. Spirit Airlines is willing to pay higher rents to keep its passengers out of glorified duplexes.

With the return of travel and the increase in passengers at the airport, the south terminal is receiving more passengers than ever and cannot accommodate them all. Passengers will therefore be accommodated in tents outside the terminal. Summer in Central Texas.

Because we have a record number of passengers this summer, we have created extra space by installing an air-conditioned tent in the VIP car park next to the terminal. If the terminal is full, we may ask you to wait outside while we make room for you.

This one is scheduled only on peak days, Friday and Monday, usually around 4 p.m., and is called the Holiday Tent, where instead of a terminal, plenty of restrooms, more food, an extra bar and some entertainment are promised. (Currently, meals in the south terminal are delivered primarily by truck, currently by Nada Tacos).

Passengers outside in the marquee will hear announcements from the terminal ambassadors when it is time to board, and they will try to get you in quickly.

Of course, this model of airport expansion seems to be much faster and cheaper than the way airports usually operate. In fact, it turns the whole FAA approach on its head. This could even raise the question of the need to charge passengers for services on air tickets.

(HT: @Ryan_Hassett)

Lake View from the Wing

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