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8K travelers experienced the Monday airport traffic jam, one visitor shared his experience


An influx of travelers and a rental car fiasco led to one of the worst traffic jams at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Monday as Dell Match Play, NASCAR and Texas Relays came to a close. Some of the 8,252 travelers that passed through the airport before 8 a.m. turned to social media to share their frustrations over the chaos.

Columbus, Ohio, local Joey Dillon shared his story with Austonia after visiting Austin for the first time to play in a tennis tournament. While in town, Dillon said he enjoyed some great food, sights and “beyond perfect” weather.

When the time came to return home, Dillon arrived at the airport two hours early for his 9:10 a.m. flight and got stuck in a line stretching well down the street. Dillon said he waited 15 minutes without moving before he got worried.

“I asked the guy in the car next to me what was going on... He said that people were told to leave their cars and to start walking,” Dillon said, explaining that an airport worker came to ask his rental company, wrote it on the windshield and told him to walk back. “I just had to trust that everything would be taken care of because I couldn't afford to miss my flight.”

An airport spokesperson on Monday 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. There were at least 1,600 more travelers than usual before 8 a.m. Monday.

Dillon said he got to TSA about an hour before his flight and seeing lines out the door was when he really got worried. Dillon said he had purchased TSA pre-check on a whim before he left for Austin, which he immediately became thankful for, and made it onto his flight on time.

“I know I was extremely lucky. Without pre-check, I wasn't getting home on time,” Dillon said. “It was definitely chaotic and you could feel some anxious energy just because their plans were unknown.”

Though the journey back was rocky, Dillon said it didn’t spoil his trip or memory of the city. He received a statement that his rental car was returned, so in the end, everything was taken care of for him.

Others trying to make their early morning flights weren't so lucky. Frustrated travelers missed their flights and had to wait in more lines to rebook.

As travel bounced back from pandemic lows, airport activity has been bustling: The top five busiest days in airport history are within the last two and a half years, with three of them in 2021. The airport is in the midst of updating some of its infrastructures to keep up with travel demand with its 2040 Master Plan, but changes aren't likely to come this year.

“The city or the airport should definitely get together and figure out logistics if they're going to have multiple massive events on one weekend. I think this all could've been prevented or at least we could've been made aware,” Dillon said. “It doesn't hurt my Austin experience and it's a funny travel story to tell, as well as a reason to keep my pre-check in the future.”


A big announcement from Austonia

Howdy, and happy holidays.

I have some big news for you.

Austonia is now part of 6AM City, a fast-growing network of hyper-local newsletters across the country.

I’m proud to be telling you this, because 6AM City’s mission is very much like Austonia’s — a daily morning update on events, things-to-do and news, with an underlying mission of community building in the cities they serve.

If you’re not already subscribed, 6AM City’s Austin newsletter is called ATXtoday. One of its city editors is Laura Figi, who you’ll remember for her previous great work on Austonia’s newsletter.

I’ve been reading ATXtoday every day since it launched last year.

Starting this week, you’ll receive ATXtoday every morning and I’m confident it will become part of your daily wake up routine. Be sure to add to your contact list (how to do that here).

Meantime let me thank you for your readership and support of Austonia, and convey my wishes for a great holiday season for you and those close to you.

Thank you,

Mark Dewey

Austonia CEO

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.