They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is the biggest outside the bustling Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metro areas. It's minutes from the state capital, where tourists flock to see one of the most eclectic live music scenes in the country (which is abundantly apparent in the terminals, themselves). The Circuit of the Americas racetrack is a popular attraction, as are the local lakes (pristine for boating) and Austin's sought-after watering holes.
The security checkpoint at the Texas capital's airport gets busy, so if possible avoid approaching it between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If your travel plans are flexible, consider traveling on a Thursday or Saturday instead.
Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
Once a military base, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) now not only serves the Texas Army National Guard but also nearly 10 million passengers annually.
Know Before You Go
The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport services more than 20 airlines, with Delta, Southwest, American, United, and Frontier being among the biggest. It offers nonstop service to more than 50 destinations, including New York City, Las Vegas, Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., domestically, and Frankfurt, Cancun, and London internationally. The busiest domestic routes from ABIA include Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, and Los Angeles.
ABIA has three helipads, two runways, and two terminals: the Barbara Jordan Terminal and the South Terminal, which opened in 2017. Each not only has different facilities but separate entrances on opposite sides of the airport. Barbara Jordan, accessible from State Highway 71, is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport's main—and original—terminal. It has 34 gates and services all the big airlines save Frontier.
The South Terminal, alternatively, is like a mini airport of its own. It even has its own logo, website, and parking lots. Accessible from Emma Browning Avenue (off of State Highway 183) and not the Barbara Jordan Terminal, the South Terminal features an outdoor patio that's equipped with a bar, a live music stage, and food trucks. The structure dates back to the time when the property was part of Bergstrom Air Force Base. It has only three gates and services Allegiant and Frontier. There is no shuttle or public transport between the two terminals, so passengers must arrive at the entrance that corresponds with their airline.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Parking
There are numerous options for parking at ABIA: valet, on-site, and off-site locations that require a shuttle ride to the terminal. The closer your spot is to the doors, the more it will cost.
The Barbara Jordan Terminal has the most parking options:
- Valet: Although the most convenient, valet is also the most expensive, ranging from $19 for a family-friendly option and $29 for an executive option. Vehicle valet is on the third level of Garage 1, directly across from the terminal.
- Garage Parking: You may also park in the self-park garage next to the terminal for $3 per hour or $25 for the whole day.
- Economy Parking: If you'll be staying for longer than a few hours, perhaps you should opt for the Economy Lot, which costs $8 for the day and offers a complimentary shuttle service to the terminal.
- Blue Garage: Long-term parking is available in the six-level Blue Garage, which is located within walking distance to the terminal and has a $15 daily max.
If you're heading to the South Terminal, your options are more limited:
- Premium Lot: Closest to the terminal (directly across from it, in fact) is the Premium Lot, available for $20 per day.
- Economy Lot: The Economy Lot is located slightly further and offers a shuttle for half the price of the Premium Lot.
The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is located about 7 miles from downtown Austin and is accessible from State Highways 71, 183, 45, and 130. Travelers coming from the north or south should take I-35, then exit at Highway 71 and follow it east for 6 miles, finally turning right at the airport sign. Travelers coming from the west should take Ben White Boulevard, which conveniently turns into Highway 71.
Remember that each of ABIA's two terminals has its own entrance and parking facilities.
- For Barbara Jordan, travelers may follow primary signs for the terminal from Highway 71.
- For the South Terminal, however, travelers should take Highway 183 South to Burleson Road, then turn onto Emma Browning Avenue, which leads directly to the terminal.
Public Transportation and Taxis
Austin's Capital Metro system runs a bus to and from ABIA, which you can catch at the neon-lit, guitar-shaped bus stop. Take Route 20, departing every 15 minutes, to downtown—about 35 minutes—or beyond to the University of Texas, Northeast Austin, or Manor. Some hotels offer airport shuttle services of their own, but if yours doesn't, you might be interested in booking the SuperShuttle, which offers shared rides or group transportation from the destination of your choice. Taxis and rideshare pickup and drop-off points can be found at both terminals as well. Alternatively, there's a shuttle that transports passengers from the South Terminal to Barbara Jordan's Rental Car Facility, where Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, and other companies have kiosks.
Where to Eat and Drink
ABIA is not your average, run-of-the-mill airport. Like the quirky city it sits in, this gateway has flair. Inside, you'll find a sampling of Austin's acclaimed culinary scene: Tex-Mex, local-made pizzas, Southern comfort food, and coffee. The Austin-based Salt Lick, Saxon Pub Bar, Briggo Coffee, and the Earl Campbell Food Truck are all located in a special area called Heart of Austin near the center of Barbara Jordan, which has more than 30 restaurants, bars, and coffee stands on offer. Hut’s Hamburgers, a longtime local favorite, also has an outpost near Gate 14, too. The food court near Gate 16 has ample takeaway options while Vino Volo Wine Lounge & Restaurant near Gate 8 is where travelers can sit down with a glass of world-class pinot while listening to live bands.
The South Terminal doesn't have as many options—in fact, it only has one. De Nada Tacos is a food truck located on the outdoor patio, so even though there's only a single eatery (save the concession area, which sells beer), no customer can complain about getting their tacos with a side of fresh air whilst waiting at the airport.
Where to Shop
Last-minute souvenir shoppers won't be disappointed by the shops at the Barbara Jordan Terminal. While there may only be a few, they hold more local bric-a-brac than can fit in a suitcase. Barton Springs near Gate 28, for instance, is a western apparel outfitter that sells everything from local jewelry to barbecue sauce and books. Austin City Limits/Waterloo Records and Video near Gate 27, on the other hand, is the place to get your music fix and pick out an old-school record to take home.
How to Spend Your Layover
Austin has been dubbed the live music capital of the world, so it's only natural that its airport would act as a pseudo concert venue for its abundance of local artists. Live music throughout the Barbara Jordan terminal is sure to keep you entertained during your long layovers at ABIA. Try the Asleep at the Wheel Stage at Saxon Pub, Tacodeli, Haymaker, Hut's Hamburgers, and Vino Volo for performances any day of the week (not, however, on weekends).
There are so many little concerts happening constantly that the airport website even includes a special schedule for its Music in the Air program, so consult the calendar before you go.
In addition to being a pop-up music venue and culinary smorgasbord, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is also a sort of art gallery in its own right. A casual stroll between gates will reveal works from renowned artists hanging over the walkways and dotted along airport corridors. Don't miss the giant painted guitars near International Arrivals and the steel sculptures outside.
American, Delta, and United Airlines all have lounges at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The American Airlines Admirals Club is located across from Gate 22 and offers television, workstations, and printing facilities for business travelers. The Delta Sky Club is located near Gates 2 and 4 and the United Club is across from Gate 13, both offering the same. There are no showers available at the airport and the South Terminal does not have lounges. All three lounges accept payment at the door or a membership card.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
ABIA offers Wi-Fi in unlimited four-hour increments. While the South Terminal has countertops with USB outlets located in the post-security Departures Lounge, the Barbara Jordan Terminal has enough restaurants and cafes to plug in while you wait to board your flight.
ABIA Tips and Tidbits
- There's an outdoor Family Viewing Area near the 9,000-foot east runway. It's nearly an acre of land that offers an excellent vantage point of incoming and outgoing aircraft. You'll find it on the south side of US Highway 71 at the end of Golf Course Road, just east of the Austin airport entrance.
- There are about 10 mini-galleries dotted around the airport on walls, in food courts, and even inside the bathrooms (where you can see painted tiles that represent Austin culture). Keep your eyes open.