GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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If you have to be stuck in an airport, it might as well be Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA), generally regarded as one of the most pleasant airports in the United States. Neither tiny nor overwhelmingly large, it's modern, easy to navigate, and reasonably user-friendly. It even frequently has live music, with area musicians playing concerts on stages at two airport taverns—quite appropriate for the "live music capital." Also, rather than rely on the same chains you'd see in St. Louis, Denver, or Seattle, the concourse's restaurants have a decidedly local slant, with branches of the Salt Lick, Matt's El Rancho, and Waterloo Ice House, to give travelers their first taste (or in some cases, farewell taste) of barbecue and Tex-Mex, Austin style. In addition to the usual souvenir shops and newsstands, Wi-Fi is available (for a fee), and PowerPort stations offer plugs for laptops and chargers, laptop rentals, and printing.
Also, despite its medium-city size, Austin has direct flights to major cities, so you don't necessarily have to fly to or from Austin by first stopping in Houston or DFW. Airlines fly nonstop from ABIA to 37 cities outside Texas, including New York (Delta, JetBlue, Continental), Los Angeles (American, Southwest), Chicago (American, Southwest, United), and Minneapolis/St. Paul (Northwest). Also, if you want to fly from Austin into Mexico, you can fly direct on Aeromexico to Mexico City or on the Mexican budget carrier vivaAerobus to Cancún, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, among other destinations.
Within Texas itself, Southwest Airlines flies to Austin from six cities: Dallas, El Paso, Harlingen, Houston, Lubbock, and Midland/Odessa; American takes you from Austin to Dallas; and Continental goes to Houston.
The local branch of the national SuperShuttle airport shuttle chain is found at ABIA's ground level (same level as baggage claim). Some cab companies allow for online reservations (although there's no need to reserve a cab to wait for you at the airport; plenty of them should be around). A shared SuperShuttle ride to the airport from a downtown or South Austin hotel will cost $12.75 per person plus tip; add $5 for the Arboretum area. This compares to $20-$25-plus tip for a cab ride between the airport and a downtown-area hotel.
Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (3600 Presidential Blvd., Austin, TX. 512/530–2242. www.ci.austin.tx.us/austinairport.)
SuperShuttle. SuperShuttle. PO Box 6170, 78762. 512/258–3826. www.supershuttle.net.
Austin Cab. Austin Cab. 1135 Gunter St., Ste. 101, TX, 78702. 512/478–2222. www.austincab.com.
Lone Star Cab Co. (208 Powell Ln., TX, 78753. 512/836–4900. www.lonestarcabaustin.com.)
Yellow Cab (10630 Joseph Clayton, Bldg. A, 78753. 512/452–9999. www.yellowcabaustin.com.)