AUSTIN, Texas - Virgin Atlantic launched its non-stop flights from London to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).
One of the first flights landed Wednesday afternoon and passengers on board say it was smooth, but their experience at the airport was far from it.
Sitting alongside airport and city officials, Virgin Atlantic Founder Sir Richard Branson addressed the elephant in the room as dozens of people on board one of the first flights from London to Austin were late to the press conference by over an hour waiting for their luggage from baggage claim.
"Thank you for coming, sorry it took you a while to get here. I think every airport in the world seems to be having their fair share of teething problems," said Branson.
One passenger took to twitter to share his frustration saying: "Had a great experience on @VirginAtlantic inaugural flight to #Austin but waiting an hour @AUStinAirport for bags is a bit of a downer. @richardbranson was on the tarmac maybe he can help find them?"
One passenger even addressed the problem at the press conference saying, "You say that Austin is a big growing city which is fantastic. How is the airport growing to accommodate that and will you build any more baggage carousels for international arrivals?"
Chief Business and Finance officer for AUS Mookie Patel was the one to take the question and mentioned its program to expand the airport and its extensive timeline to do so.
"We currently have a $4 billion capital program that will take us about ten years to complete, but as we've seen the recovery of international traffic and the growth, there are plans so we'll be on that," said Patel.
AUS has gone through other growing pains including long wait times at TSA and fuel shortages.
The airport briefly issued a fuel storage notice a few months ago causing flights to be diverted or asked to fill up before coming into Austin. AUS is working on a new fuel storage facility near Highway 183 and Barbara Jordan Terminal to help that issue, but a lawsuit brought forward by nearby neighbors could jeopardize that. Neighbors claim they are worried about fumes, fires and potential explosions.
Another issue brought up, Austin's homeless problem. Mayor Steve Adler said the city's goal is to make Austin the first city of its size to address homelessness.
"We set an astronomically high goal to be able to deal with it and the city stepped forward and is now meeting that challenge and I think, in three years, we'll be the first city our size in the country to reach net effect of zero in homelessness. But it's a hard thing for a city to do, to voluntarily do," said Mayor Adler.
An AUS spokesperson said there could be a few reasons as to why passengers on Virgin Atlantic had to wait over an hour for their luggage. Another international flight was delayed and deboarded around the same time as the Virgin flight which could have caused a mix-up with the bags. There are also only one or two baggage claims for international flights.
The spokesperson also mentions the staffing shortage at AUS.