Like Watching Airplanes? Check Out Austin Airport’s New Deck

Austin airport has grown tremendously since we first visited the area over a decade ago. The increase in the number of flights and passengers pushed the capacity limits of the airport, putting a strain on all of the resources from baggage handling to parking spaces, and eventually capacity limitations caused prices of flights to increase significantly.

Austin airport announced an expansion plan and the first phase of it opened in February 2019. The most immediate impact was the addition of 9 new gates, which increased the number of flights the airport can handle.

In May of 2019, Delta opened their new SkyClub in that new addition and it’s an amazing space located at the end of the terminal on the second floor between gates 1 and 2.

But for those of us who can’t get into a SkyClub, Austin airport has you covered with their new outdoor deck.

I learned about the deck from an article by Gary on View from the Wing. As it turned out, we arrived at the airport early during our most recent trip to the area, so we could return our rental car on time and avoid extra charges.

After checking out bags and going through the CLEAR checkpoint (still not much of a time saver, Pre-Check line was 7 minutes) we started to walk through the terminal. Our Southwest flight was leaving from gate 18 so it was quite a walk to the far end of the terminal (Note from Sharon: it’s totally my fault. If I’m in the car, we will get a parking spot on the last 1/3 of the row, and if I’m on the plane, the gate will be at the far end of the terminal. Guaranteed. What can I say…it’s a gift.)

Once entering the newly opened area, you’ll immediately notice that it’s still under construction. Most of the restaurants and shops are not yet open and it feels rather empty compared to the frenetic energy of the rest of the terminal.

There’s not really any sign to get to the deck right now. The easiest directions would be to follow signs to the Delta SkyClub. When you get to what will eventually be some circular restaurant/bar space, go around towards the back.

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There you’ll find an elevator and two staircases. All of them lead to the same place.

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When you get to the second floor, the SkyClub entrance will be towards the right. There are some chairs and tables arranged the interior space. The inside does have the advantage of being air-conditioned but space is rather bland and there aren’t many power outlets or suitable places to work. It looks like the waiting room of an office. In addition, the Wi-Fi wouldn’t connect from here and data on our T-Mobile phones didn’t work while inside.

The showcase is outside. While the SkyClub does have an outdoor deck, it’s minimal in size compared to the public space.

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They tried to provide as much seating with shade as possible and there was a nice breeze the day we visited. However, it was still in the mid-90s outside and that’s hot no matter how much shade and breeze you have.

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Fortunately, I was distracted from the heat by the view. The deck looks out onto the east runway of Austin Airport. This wasn’t being used much the day we visited but we did catch several planes landing and taking off.

It’s much easier to watch than take pictures because of the grated fencing they used, but you get the idea.

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We did manage to catch a Southwest plane landing:

and a British Airways 747 pulling up to the gate just below the deck.

There was also a Lufthansa A330 getting ready to leave on the way to Frankfurt, a route that just started from Austin at the beginning of May 2019.

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Final Thoughts

The deck was mostly empty for the time we were there. Most guests opted to stay inside in the air conditioning and I can’t say that I blame them. If you want to see some planes up close, you’ll need to brave the heat and go outside. Once more of the shops, restaurants and bars in the new expansion are open and you can grab some food and drinks close by, this will be a great place to hang out for a while and watch the planes.

For those of you fortunate enough to have access to the Delta SkyClub, you can buy a drink with your SkyMiles and watch from your semi-private, covered deck.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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