Miracle on Presidential Boulevard
Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush
Austinites have lots of holiday travel to make up for this year. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) saw record travel through 2022, and even bigger numbers in October thanks to F1 weekend. As every year’s busiest travel season closes in, AUS has put some new measures in place for getting more people on planes, in less time. SkySquad, an airport assistant service, launches on Monday, November 21, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel rush.
According to the airport, travelers should plan for a busier terminal than usual from November 18 through November 28. Don’t assume what you did in previous years will work again — airlines are offering “35 percent more seats compared to November 2019,” which is good news for getting into one, and a bit of a challenge for people who love arriving late. The airport recommends travelers who are out of the habit and families with children build in even more time for personal delays.
Once travelers are at the airport, SkySquad can take over. The team of “trained, pre-vetted airport assistant[s]" can "provide an extra pair of hands from the curbside to their gate." They can assist with ticketing and lots of bag duties like checking, loading for security, and standing by while passengers take a bathroom break. Seniors may especially benefit from the help of a SkySquad assistant, but there are no eligibility requirements to book except booking 24 hours in advance.
SkySquad pricing varies by the length of commitment ($49 for one hour, $99 for two, determined by traveling with children or internationally), with extra fees for six or more pieces of luggage and help with rental cars. Adults traveling domestically with little luggage and no car can expect a $49 charge, while families with children could spend up to $169 for two hours, with additional hourly charges as needed. The service is also available for layovers.
AUS recommends the following measures to keep holiday travel smooth:
- Arrive at least two-and-a-half hours before departure for domestic flights with general TSA screening, or three hours before international flights.
- Account for additional time past these recommendations when checking luggage, renting or returning a car, or tackling any other pre-check in goals.
- Consider TSA PreCheck and Clear for a faster security experience.
- Firearms and liquids exceeding 3.4 ounces are prohibited, and a big part of slowing down security lines, especially for gun owners in Austin according to the TSA.
- Food is permitted in checked and carry-on luggage, but frozen foods must be completely frozen at security, and the TSA recommends sending gifts in the mail rather than carrying them.
- There are lots of useful sites for questions about travel, like ABIAParking.com and tsa.gov.
Reservations are available at skysquad.com, or call (877) 359-2256.