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Rental cars left abandoned lead to hours-long traffic jam at airport

(Jeff Gluck/Twitter)

After a high-traffic weekend at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, passengers reported crazy long lines and traffic jams disrupting their travel plans.


According to an ABIA spokesperson, 30,991 passengers passed through TSA on Sunday, marking the ninth busiest day in the airport’s history, and 28,651 are projected for today. Nearly 9,000 of Sunday's passengers came in before 8 a.m.

With NASCAR, Texas Relays and Dell Match Play in town over the weekend, a high volume of passengers was to be expected. However, the lines were much more chaotic for those returning rental cars Monday morning.

The spokesperson said that the jam started when a rental car stalled out at the drop-off curb and employees instructed them to leave it with the keys inside. Other passengers then followed suit, leaving a long line of empty cars and no way out.

Jeff Gluck documented his experience on Twitter while dropping off his rental car this morning, saying he couldn’t find any employees and waited for 10 minutes before ditching his car.

“I ended up just ditching mine in the road with everyone else. Keys still in it!” Gluck said on Twitter. “Hope they don’t charge us.”

One traveler, Joey Dillon, said he had to abandon both of his rental cars on the road lest he lose his flight to Columbus, Ohio.

Airport staff have confirmed the jam is cleared up this afternoon, after the airport called the rental car company to request extra staff. Operations have resumed as normal.

“In response to the strong demand for air travel, AUS continues to expedite terminal improvements through the Airport Expansion and Development Program and through working alongside our partners, like the TSA, to fill staff vacancies,” ABIA said in a statement. “We appreciate the patience and understanding of our passengers and continue to ask them to plan ahead, arrive early and show kindness to airport and airline staff who are working hard to get them safely to their destination.”

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