June 27, 2022

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Austin airport turns into nightmare after high-profile weekend

4 min read

A weekend of big-ticket events in Austin, Tex. ended in nightmarish lines and desperation for thousands of travelers attempting to fly out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Monday morning.

Texas’ capital city over the weekend hosted a number of high-profile, large-scale competitions including the NASCAR Cup Series, the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays and the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. The resulting exodus of travelers attempting to fly out of Austin on Monday morning saw more than 8,000 passengers passing through airport security before 8 a.m. 

The sheer volume of travelers attempting to check in for their flights led to lines snaking all the way outside of airport entrances and down the sidewalk of drop-off zones, according to KXAN’s Kelsey Thompson. Passengers waiting in line posted pictures of backed-up queues and lamented the “apocalypse” of delays many experienced.



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“My luck that my first time leaving the Austin airport was an apocalypse between Monday morning and both a NASCAR race and a PGA event this weekend,” wrote Twitter user Joey Dillon.

Officials confirmed that in addition to long lines, the airport was negotiating a fuel shortage linked to the uptick in travelers coming through Austin.

“No immediate impacts to passengers, but it’s possible aircraft will have to divert to fuel up at another airport, as was the case for three commercial flights during F1,” an official told Thompson on Monday. “The shortage is due to the current demand for aircraft fuel outpacing the supply. On any given day, we have about a two to three day supply. Most airports average 5 – 7.”

Further issues confounding travelers Monday were blockages on roads leading to rental car return areas. Twitter user Kelly Williams Nagel posted a photo of automobiles seemingly abandoned in the street leading up to the airport.

According to Thompson, officials confirmed that a stalled car had led car rental staff to instruct some drivers to leave their rental cars in the street with the keys in the ignition. Other drivers allegedly then did the same.

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“What happened was one rental car stalled out at the drop-off curb,” an Austin-Bergstrom official told Thompson. “Rental car staff instructed the customers to go ahead and leave the vehicle with the keys in it. This caused other passengers with rental cars to follow suit, and leave their rental cars alongside the curb. Once airport staff was alerted to this, we got in touch with the rental car company to request additional staff be dispatched to the CONRAC to move the vehicles from the curb. Airport staff also responded by sending airport staff out to help direct traffic. Operations are now normal.”

Austin-Bergstrom officials acknowledged the snafu of issues at the airport on Twitter, blaming high volume and ongoing construction for the delays.

Austin-Bergstrom airport is currently undergoing a number of sweeping renovations in response to the increasing volume of travelers to the city in recent years, including a $350 million expansion slated to add 10 more gates to its main terminal by 2023. The airport currently boasts two runways—less than half of the number used to facilitate travel in and out of Houston’s Bush International Airport.

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