Central Texans looking for a mountain getaway this winter will have a new option to consider, as American Airlines will begin offering a direct flight from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Vail, Colorado starting July 15. december.
A ski town less than two hours west of Denver, Vail is a popular destination for those who want to hit the slopes and enjoy the snow. This route joins American Airlines direct routes to other winter destinations from Austin, including Aspen, Colorado, and Bozeman, Montana.
Flights will depart daily from Austin from Dec. 15 through Jan. 9 before switching to a weekly frequency from Jan. 10 through Feb. 15, then returning daily from Feb. 16 through April 3.
In a written statement, airport CEO Jacqueline Yaft said Austin-Bergstrom “continues to work with our airline partners to support the city’s and region’s growing demand for air travel; new routes like this one with American Airlines are imperative to this work and deserve to be celebrated.”
Airport spokesman Sam Haynes said it’s up to the airlines to decide which routes to add to and from Austin, but said a flight to Vail was in line with trends in travel.
“We know that Austinites and Central Texans are flying for recreation quite heavily, more than ever before, so what we’re seeing across all levels of our airlines is the launch of many leisure destinations,” said said Haynes. “Business travel is still recovering from the pandemic, while leisure has fully recovered and is even stronger than before.”
Philippe Puech, U.S. director of short-haul network planning, said the airline is excited to link Austin with Eagle County this winter and bring more business to both locations.
“Austin continues to grow and we are proud to support that growth with new routes,” he said in a statement. “This winter, American will offer nonstop service to 38 destinations from the Texas capital. From connecting Central Texans to the slopes this winter to bringing more business to the heartland of Texas, American is eager to welcome customers on board.
This new route joins a host of other direct flights that airlines have added to and from Austin this year.
For international flights, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines began direct service between Austin and Amsterdam in March, and Air Canada began offering direct service to Vancouver International Airport in June. Virgin Atlantic celebrated a new nonstop flight from Austin to London in May.
Meanwhile, on the domestic side, low-cost airline Allegiant Airlines added nonstop routes to Sarasota, Florida, San Diego and Washington DC this spring. Southwest Airlines, the dominant carrier in Austin-Bergstrom, added nine new nonstop routes this spring in response to market demand from leisure and business travelers.
The new flight also comes amid continued overcrowding at the airport, as travel demand surged above pre-pandemic figures. The airport is expected to serve a record 20 million outbound passengers this year in a facility that was updated in 2019 to serve 15 million.
As the airport is working on ongoing expansion projects, queues for security are often long, sometimes extending outside the building on the pavement. Airport officials recently recommended that passengers arrive two and a half hours before boarding a domestic flight to allow plenty of time to reach the gate during peak summer season. This adds 30 minutes to the airport’s previous advisory, which called for passengers to arrive two hours before boarding domestic flights.
The Transportation Security Administration sent additional personnel to the airport in the spring to help track security lines. Haynes said the airport is working closely with airlines and the TSA to help improve the traveler experience and is asking people to follow best practices to help them make their flights.