Crowded airports in Houston and Thanksgiving travel tips


Crowded Houston airports ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

HOUSTON (KIAH) — About 54 million people are expected to travel across the country for Thanksgiving this year. Whether it’s on the road or by plane, AAA says air travel alone is up 80% from last year.

In fact, Wednesday is one of the most expensive and heaviest travel days. 

Nearly 4 million Texans are expected to travel this season. According to AAA, it’s the highest single-year increase since 2005 with travel being up 13% from 2020.

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

We spoke to Augusto Bernal, the public information officer for the Houston airports, who says 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 is now until Tuesday, Nov. 30, 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.

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. You can live track flight delays, arrival, and departure times.

On the other hand, airports expect parking garages to fill up quickly. Another recommended alternative is using a ride-share service like Uber and Lyft. Hobby airport is also undergoing construction so which could cause traffic delays.

Lastly, with people flying for the holiday, they’re more likely to bring items that may not be permitted. like liquids unless it’s 3.4 ounces or less. 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.

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