Another Day, Another Southwest Meltdown in Austin

As most people know, a solar eclipse stretched across the Continental United States on Monday from Texas to Maine. Austin was one of the cities within the path of totality and tens of thousands of travelers flocked to town, and the surrounding Hill Country, hoping to get a glimpse of the eclipse.

In addition to the eclipse traffic, Austin hosted the CMT Music Awards this past Sunday and MotoGP is racing at Circuit of the Americas this weekend. While these events are bringing extra travelers to an already busy airport, crowds are something we’re used to here in Austin.

The airport sent out the below tweet on Wednesday morning.

While other airlines managed to handle increased passenger volume, Southwest went into full meltdown mode.

Photos and videos of the chaos at Southwest Airlines check-in began surfacing on Twitter/X Wednesday afternoon of long lines stretching out of the airport terminal and down the service road towards the freeway. Passengers reported waiting in 3+ hour lines just for bag drop and many missed flights.

Southwest famously allows passengers two free checked bags and it appears that the vast majority of their passengers were taking advantage of this. The airline doesn’t appear to be adequately staffed or have enough space to open additional bag drops.

Southwest Airlines Planes and Baggage Carts at Austin Airport

TSA Checkpoint lines and other airline check-in lines appeared to be flowing smoothly throughout the day on Wednesday.

Problems rolled into Thursday morning as lines at Southwest Bag Drop were already long as of 4:15a local time. The airport is advising passengers to arrive at least 2.5 hours prior to their flight, though that may not be enough.

UPDATE: As of midday Thursday lines continue out into the parking lots, arrive earlier than the recommended 2.5 hours if you’re planning to check a bag.

If you’re flying Southwest out of Austin over the next few days, this is something you’ll want to keep a close eye on. Follow the Austin Airport on X and contact your airline directly for more information regarding delays.

As the city continues to grow, this won’t be the last time we see issues with crowding at the airport. The next major test will be in October as the Georgia Bulldogs come to town to take on the Texas Longhorns on the same weekend that the F1 United States Grand Prix is contested at Circuit of the Americas.

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