Passengers flying Allegiant Air from Albuquerque to Austin got a nice little surprise Thursday afternoon.
After being greeted by a water cannon salute they walked out onto the tarmac and into a brand new terminal with live music, Austin food and a vibe that takes you back in time.
"It speaks to that kind of mid-century modern period, mid-60's. Kind of the 'golden age' of jet travel. So we wanted to create that kind of vibe, that retro vibe," said Jeff Pearse, CEO of Lonestar Airport Holdings.
The South Terminal is a public-private partnership. Pearse says they've been granted a 30-year operating lease.
The first step was to transform the old building that dates back to the Bergstrom Air Force base.
The price tag for renovation was $12 million and they did the work in just 8 months.
One of the defining features -- a canopy for passengers to walk underneath as they go from the plane to the terminal.
"Instead of just creating something we wanted to do something that's a little bit more compelling from a design standpoint," Pearse said.
The Thursday afternoon flight from Albuquerque marked the official opening of the South Terminal and the first time in nearly a decade ABIA has 2 terminals.
"The Barbara Jordan Terminal is currently configured at 25 gates and then this adds 3 additional gates so there are a total of 28 gates now available to come in and out of Austin," said Derick Hackett with ABIA.
Christine Jarmer and her family are headed to Albuquerque for Easter. They're from Houston so they didn't know about the grand opening.
"We've flown Allegiant before because of the good prices so we booked it again just for the short term we were going to be in Albuquerque but it's a great surprise," she said.
Courtney Goff with Allegiant Air says they're glad to be flying out of the new terminal.
"It gives us such an easy and accessible way for our passengers to get here as opposed to a crowded larger terminal so we're really excited to have a little bit of privacy. This great Austin patio as well as this cool mid-century feel for our passengers to be able to relax in the terminal and not be stressing about seating or which gate," Goff said.
Speaking of the patio, ABIA says it's a first for a major airport in Texas.
"I like it, I like the outdoor food patio, the food truck it's very Austin culture, that's how it feels," she said.