Experiencing an unprecedented increase in travel this year, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is projecting this weekend to be the busiest Memorial Day weekend in its history.
“We expect not only for Memorial Day weekend to be one of our busiest yet, we also expect this to be the busiest year on record,” ABIA Public Information Specialist Bailey Grimmett said.
ABIA officials estimate a record-high 22 million passengers to travel through its airport in 2022, Grimmett said. As airport officials expect Central Texans are starting their summer travels earlier this year, those traveling over the holiday weekend are advised to “plan ahead, arrive early, and pack your patience.”
“We've just been experiencing a higher demand for air travel than we've ever seen before,” Grimmett said.
Grimmett said a main priority is making sure people do not miss their flights. She said those using general security should arrive at least two and a half hours before boarding domestic flights and three hours before international trips.
Travelers may also visit the Transportation Security Administration’s website to find a list of prohibited items to avoid bringing that could lead to security delays. When checking in, passengers can use self-service kiosks, curbside check-in or the mobile app to save time.
“Travelers should expect busier months ahead at [ABIA],” Grimmett said. “But we're trying to provide these recommendations to ensure that they're prepared to the best of their ability."
As the industry recovers from the pandemic, a growing number of Central Texans are traveling. The World Travel & Tourism Council expects the U.S. to exceed prepandemic travel and tourism levels by 6.2% in 2022.
“There's just kind of been a pent up demand that we've noticed since the pandemic,” Grimmett said. “We do know that as air travel recovers from the pandemic, more and more people just want to get away.”
Investing in more airlines, destinations and flights has also allowed for more passengers to travel with ABIA. In May, June and July, 32% more seats will be available than in 2019.
In 2019, ABIA finalized a 20-year master plan to meet the demands of a growing number of passengers, later reimagined during the pandemic as the Airport Expansion & Development Program.
Under the plan, ABIA has opened a fourth security checkpoint and is expected to begin constructing a new baggage handling system this summer, with more projects in the works.
Grimmett said ABIA is also working to hire more staff to fill vacancies that can result in longer wait times. Individuals may apply here.