AUSTIN (KXAN) - No longer do drivers have to make several loops in front of the airport waiting for their loved ones to arrive; the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport now has a new pick-up waiting area.
"Usually I circle around and it's just a hassle, and I know I get in everyone's way, and there you are trying to figure out what to do, so it's a great alternative," said Rob Thurner.
Thurner was one of the few that parked in the spots Tuesday afternoon, waiting to pick up his wife.
"It's really kind of a nice thing. I took advantage of it and I'm happy I'm here," he said.
There are about 50 parking spaces in the new cell phone waiting area along Spirit of Texas Drive. The parking island also has restrooms, a seating area with metal tables and a real-time monitor showing incoming flight times.
"Basically, it's a parking lot dedicated to those picking up passengers," said Jason Zielinski, ABIA spokesman.
Since 9/11, drivers have not been able to wait for their loved ones along the curb next to the terminal. Cars have been forced to drive around, making several loops until their passengers arrive, or park at a nearby gas station across State Highway 71, but not any longer.
"We think that's a great improvement on picking up passengers in the future. Will certainly help us," said Duane Zimmerman, who did not know the new waiting area existed.
"This is where I always come. Fill the car up with gas, get some water or something to drink and wait out until they get to the curb," said Larry Foles, who usually waits at the Shell Station on the other side of Hwy. 71. Many other cars were waiting Tuesday afternoon there as well, unaware that there was now a new waiting area. Foles said he would start using it now.
"Yes, I would," he said.
The new waiting area's purpose is two-fold:
- to create a space where people can comfortably wait
- to free up more parking spaces on airport grounds.
"There are plans in the works to turn Lot A into additional garage space and build a garage on Lot A," Zielinski said. "Very soon we should be announcing plans of opening a new parking area over by are cargo facilities, so that will add some extra spaces."
As of Nov. 13, the complementary 'under 30 minutes' free parking currently offered in the airport garage and Lot A near the front will no longer be available for drivers who want to wait for free. ABIA hoping it will free up more spaces as the holidays approach.
ABIA has had a 6 percent increase in passenger traffic during the past year, and expects that number to increase. Parking is already normally maxed out in the parking areas that are closest to the airport terminals.
There is also discussion about adding retail, mobile vendors and a gas station near the pick-up area sometime in the future. Building another parking lot is also a real possibility as airport officials believe passenger-traffic at ABIA will only increase.
Winter is invading Texas with a vengeance as snow, sleet and ice are unleashed on much of northern and western sections of the state.
The pastor of the Austin church attended by the teacher who was killed Thursday in Benghazi remembered him as a spiritual friend dedicated to improving the lives of others.
The driver of an 18-wheeler died and crashed into the back side of a building along Interstate 35 on Thursday.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
A man convicted 21 years ago for engaging in ritual child abuse was released Thursday after the DA's office agreed the only physical evidence against him was faulty.
A sport-utility vehicle hit a Capitol Metro bus in a parking lot of Anderson Lane on Thursday, sending two people to the hospital.