AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN viewers shared tips on Facebook for ways to successfully navigate the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
TSA PreCheck versus Clear
Many viewers agreed TSA PreCheck was a great way to cut down the time spent in the security line, but some said Clear was another great option–with one viewer even saying, “shhh don’t tell them about clear I like not having a line.”
Clear was highly recommended for frequent flyers since TSA PreCheck lines have become crowded.
“Oh yeah pre check has gotten insane that’s why I got clear a few years ago. I don’t even fly as much anymore and still pay for it. Worth it honestly,” one viewer said.
However, some people prefer TSA PreCheck and consider it better than nothing.
“That’s really the issue — the security can be extremely bad one day, then be fine the next, but there’s no rhyme or reason to it and they can’t publicly predict it in advance due to security reasons. I don’t have Clear but do have TSA Pre[Check] and have never waited more than 5 minutes in security,” another viewer commented.
Get there early
While the airport recently recommended travelers arrive two-and-a-half hours before boarding domestic flights and three hours for international flights, viewers have said that’s not nearly enough time.
“I missed my flight last Saturday when I got there at 5:30am and my flight left at 7:40am so definitely getting there 3 hours before. I did not pass TSA until 8:20 am,” a viewer commented.
In April, the airport said it was adding more TSA officers, as well as doubling the number of K-9 units.
“I just went Monday and barely made my flight in time due to the tsa lines. The pre check line was just as long as well too which surprised me!” another viewer stated.
“I’m there a lot with work and yes I make sure we are there 3 hrs before the flight leaves and we it’s still cutting it close!” one viewer commented.
However, not every airport issue is resolved by arriving early.
“I highly recommend 3 hrs prior to a flight unless you’re [sic] flight leaves before 5am, then tsa doesn’t open until 330am,” one viewer added.
Room for improvement
While viewers recommended getting to the airport three hours early seems normal, it is not always efficient for earlier flights.
Many viewers mentioned arriving several hours early for an early morning flight does not make much sense when traveling with checked luggage.
“We had a 5:30 flight 2 weeks ago on SWA and got there at 3 but there was already a line at baggage check in. SWA opened the counter at 4. Security was already a 20 minute wait by the time we checked our luggage so we barely got to our flight before they started boarding at 4:55,” a viewer said.
A viewer recommended opening the bag check counter earlier.
“They need checked baggage counters to open earlier. When you have a flight at 5:30AM and get there 2 hours early you still have to wait for the counters to open at 4. Wait in that line for 20 minutes before waiting in security for 20 minutes and barely make it to the gate before boarding starts,” the viewer said.
Another also agreed it would be a beneficial improvement.
“Opening their counter earlier would definitely help alleviate the rush for the earlier flights!” the other viewer said.
Many viewers agreed the system for the checked bag lines needs improvement since not having checked bags speeds up the waiting process.
“We’ll be fine because we’re not checking bags. It’s the checked bag lines that are crazy but we get to go straight through security.”
A need for an expansion
Although these tips could be helpful, plenty of viewers agreed the Austin-Bergeson airport was in need of expansion.
“I have Clear. I fly every week out of there and get there about 90 minutes before my flight. Flew to Miami yesterday and didn’t have any issues. The normal security line wasn’t that bad. I think they have been short with TSA staff. The airport needs to be expanded badly,” one viewer commented.
Other viewers agreed the airport was not large enough to support the Austin population. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the Austin population was 965,872 people.
“ABIA is way to small for the Austin population. We’re so behind,” a viewer said.
“Def Need a new bigger international airport!” another viewer said.
The latest expansion to the TSA security checkpoint was in December 2021.
A $46 million expansion plan was under consideration in Jan. to build an extra three aircraft gates. Construction is expected to begin in late 2023 or early 2024.
Construction for a new inline Baggage Handling System is expected to begin this summer. The inline baggage system allows passengers to avoid queueing up near the X-ray machines for scanning their baggage before check-in.