Houston airports gearing up for the busy Thanksgiving travel holiday


Holiday Airport Travel and Tips

HOUSTON (KIAH) – The holiday season is quickly approaching and the Houston airports are gearing up for one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, Thanksgiving.

Airport officials say they’re expecting a total of 1.9 million people to travel through both William P. Hobby (HOU) and George Bush International Airport (IAH). That’s about 500,000 passengers flying out of Hobby airport and 1.4 million leaving from George Bush airport.

According to Augusto Bernal, the public information officer for the Houston airports, this is a 160% increase from last year alone. However, we’re still 15% below the pre-pandemic travel rate.

Bernal says during the 13-day Thanksgiving travel period which starts on Thursday, November 18, and ends on Tuesday, November 30th, passengers can expect long wait times, limited parking, and crowded drop-off areas. 

Airport officials say they’re ready to handle the large crowds and will be strictly enforcing COVID-19 guidelines like wearing a mask, sanitizing, and social distancing.

“What we’re seeing is that people are regaining the confidence to come to the airport and take that flight. With the mask in place and the changes and all the improvements around the airport. Bush and Hobby airports are ready to receive the holiday travel rush,” said Bernal.

To avoid missing your flight, travel and safety officials recommend arriving two hours early for domestic travel and at least three hours earlier for international flights.

With people flying for the holidays, they’re more likely to bring items that may not be permitted. Like liquids, unless it’s 3.4 ounces or less. You can purchase drinks once you pass through TSA. Knives and weapons are not allowed through TSA security checkpoints.

Here are some items you are allowed to bring…solid food items, cooking utensils like spoons and spatulas, and gifts. If you’re planning to travel with a gift, safety officials recommend leaving it unwrapped and packing the items once you reach your destination. 

Airport officials say the goal is to get everyone to their gates as quickly as possible with fewer delays.

“You’ll see as you come through the checkpoint that we’ve changed our processes to be fewer checkpoints. We want people to be able to travel without us touching themselves or their personal items,” said William Byrne, Asst. Federal Screening Director at HOU.

Hobby Airport’s Asst. Federal Screening Director William Byrne, says he recommends purchasing TSA pre-check. It gives you access to much faster security lines and you cut back on time by not removing your shoes.

In addition, look to purchase parking in advance. Both airports expect parking garages to fill up quickly. Another alternative is using ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.

Lastly, Hobby Airport is also undergoing construction so which could cause traffic delays. For more information and holiday, travel guidelines visit the Houston Airports System website.

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