tripchi is proud to announce that Austin Airport (AUS) will be included in our Beta launch, accompanying other fine airports like Washington-Dulles, Dubai, and Charlotte. Austin Bergstrom is a small airport in comparison with the others in this group, but that doesn’t make it worse – in fact, being smaller gives an airport the challenge to work harder to find better content and offer superior customer service. Wouldn’t you be lured away from a mega-airport if flying from a nearby regional airport was just as convenient, offered less wait time, and better amenities? Even Fox News agrees.
Well, that’s the thinking behind the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Not only can you use it to fly in to Austin, but it’s located about 1 hour’s drive from San Antonio, making it an accessibly airport to several of Texas’s large cities. And first things first – don’t you just love how even Google Maps gives Austin Airport a nod for being a “Central Texas hub for Live Music.”
That couldn’t be closer to the truth. In fact, this is one of the only airports that we know of that regularly serves up LIVE MUSIC free of charge to its ticketed guests (post-security). This is all made possible by several generous sponsors. Here’s the September 2014 Austin Airport music calendar as an example – the Austin Airport website posts a new calendar every month here. Several locations throughout the Austin Airport offer free live music:
- Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar, Gate 13, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday
- Waterloo Records / Austin City Limits, Gate 13, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Friday
- The Saxon Pub and Grub, Gate 5, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday
- Annie’s Cafe & Bar, Gate 18, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday – Friday
- Ruta Maya, Gate 18, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Thursday & Friday
History of Austin Airport
The Austin Airport began as an Air Force Base (Bergstrom Air Force Base) in 1942, when the city donated the land temporarily to the military for the war-time surge. In 1991, it was converted back to a civilian airport – and the Austin Airport you know and love was born (again).
Getting situated at Austin Airport
Well, it’s a small airport, so getting lost is not really a problem. There were only 10 million passengers in 2013, making it a Class C airport for all your #avgeeks out there. Currently, there are over 150 daily departures to 44 destinations in the U.S., Mexico, and United Kingdom. There is only one Terminal – the Barbara Jordan Terminal, designed by the Austin firm Page Southerland Page. The terminal is 660,000 square feet and has 25 gates. Only 2 restaurants and a flower shop are located pre-security.
- Fara Café Sports Bar (great for killing time waiting to greet someone)
- SoCo Market (good for a fast snack)
- 24-Hour Flowers (don’t eat the flowers!)
So get there early to make it through security, and listen to some live music while you have a nosh! Not to mention that Austin Airport has free Wi-Fi – we’d expect nothing less from such a tech-forward city.
Also, special props go out to tweep @SlickNickRicky who took all the pictures for this blog – now that’s one killer #layovertip!
Check-in at Austin Airport
There’s only a handful of airlines that operate out of the Austin Airport, and the Ticketing Area is divided into East and West. Many of the airlines actually share counters.
Here’s a view to Ticketing East, where you can find American Airlines, United, US Airways, and JetBlue (among others).
Austin Airport Security
There is a TSA Pre-Check lane!!! Passenger screening checkpoints and checked baggage screening begin at 4AM daily. Peak travel times are the business rush from 5-8AM, the lunch rush from 11AM-1PM, and then again from 3-5:30PM for the rush-hour rush. Austin Airport advises that the wait time can be as much as 45 minutes (although we’ve never experienced this – one of the benefits of a smaller airport!).
Shopping at Austin Airport
A few of our favorites include –
- The Austin Warehouse District. This place is the garment district of the airport. Trendy and traditional Austin fashion, chashkis (but not cliche), and souvenirs can be found within. You can find your “Keep Austin Weird” t-shirts and paraphernalia inside.
- Barton Springs – Dry Goods. A throwback to yesteryear, we give this shop props simply because the name is Western chic cool. As expected, you can find everything from Western wear to BBQ sauce inside.
- Ruta Maya, Cafe and Books. This is a hybrid shopping-dining cafe-bookstore that can’t be missed. Sip a cup of joe AND browse the eclectic book collection. Oh so very Austin hipster. There’s a location at both ends of the Terminal.
Dining at Austin Airport
Austin Airport offers many great options to kill time, grab a fast bite, or linger a while listening to live music and socializing with your like-minded Austinite travelers.
- Best in Class – On the Go: Farm Aire. If you want to grab something to go and don’t want to get stuck eating airplane food, you should hit up Farm Aire – brought to you by Annie’s Cafe & Bar (Also worth a visit if you have more time). It’s healthy, fresh (farm to table), and fast. Granted, it’s a little pricey – but it’s the best option you have for the convenience.
- Best in Class – Lounge: Ray Benson’s. Not only can you catch some live music at Ray Benson’s, but it has a comfortable lounge-like atmosphere where you can socialize and chill while you wait for your flight. And yes folks, they have sugar-free wings in the taco bar cooler.
- Best in class – local: Salt Lick Taco Bar. This is a Hill Country (read=Austin) favorite that serves some killer tacos, fast.
- Best in class – Sit-down: Vino Volo. OK, OK. I know, it’s a chain. But Vino Volo still fails to disappoint for a classy sit-down tapas experience at Austin Airport.
Other Austin Airport Amenities
There’s a shoeshine for your dirty shoes.
And a chair massage, for your aching, crammed-into-a-tiny-airplane-seat back.
Austin Airport Lounges
Admiral’s Club and the United Club both have lounges at Austin Airport.
Parking at Austin Airport
The terminal is connected to a 3,000 space parking garage used for both public parking and rental car pick-up and return.
Finally, if we haven’t given you enough ideas of things to do above, and if you’re killing some serious time (but not enough to go in to the city, because of course we’d recommend that first) – check out some of the fab Austin Airport art.
Austin Airport Art
There’s art for you to enjoy both pre- and post- security. We enjoyed this spaceship exhibit hanging from the ceiling, near Gate 13.
And also this Jet Engine Turbine Blade, marking the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers historic first flight – stairway landing across from Gates 6 & 7.
Finding yourself at the Austin Airport with too much time on your hands? First, download the tripchi app. Then, play #namethatairport with us on Twitter, or send us your best Austin Airport #layovertip.
Catch you planeside!