AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’re only a few days away from Christmas, which will result in tons of travelers hitting the skies. TSA expects the number of fliers this holiday season to surpass pre-pandemic years.
At the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, plenty of preparations have been put in place, along with some new features for passengers with mobility assistance needs.
Traveling is tough for anyone, especially around the holidays.
Yet, for people in wheelchairs or walking around with canes, it’s even more of a challenge. For this reason, AUS added three mobility assistive areas.
In the busy Barbara Jordan Terminal, there’s a new Mobility Lounge.
This designated area provides plenty of seats and space for passengers with mobility assistance needs or wheelchair services to use as a waiting area.
Located on the lower-level arrivals area, there’s also now a new Mobility Assistance Zone.
This accessible area reduces travel time while providing priority pickup for passengers with limited mobility to hop into rideshare vehicles, taxis and wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
According to AUS spokeswoman Bailey Grimmett, these changes were made to address certain service gaps as the airport continues to grow.
“We want to ensure that we have those services available for those passengers that maybe don’t,” she said. “It’s not as easy as them for to travel through an airport, especially one that is pretty crowded because we have so many more travelers.”
This month, the airport also launched a pilot program, offering a tram service to the car rental facility — located on the upper level.
“Unbeknownst to some, airlines only offer wheelchair services that begin and end at the curbside,” Grimmett said. “So, getting passengers with mobility assistance needs to and from the car rental facility has been a service gap in the past.”
According to AUS, over 150 people have already utilized the tram service since it started being offered on December 2nd.