Josh Koop
May 15, 2023

Houston Airports Unveiled: Where to Take Off and Touch Down

Get the inside scoop on Houston airports! Everything you need to know about traveling in and out of the city.…

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Houston is a bustling city with two major airports, the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). For those traveling in and out of the city, navigating these airports can be a confusing experience without proper guidance.

That’s why this article aims to demystify Houston’s airport system by providing readers with a comprehensive guide on everything they need to know about traveling through IAH and HOU.

Readers will learn about the key differences between the two airports, such as their locations, terminal layouts, amenities, and shopping options. They will also discover how to get to each airport using various modes of transportation.

From Wi-Fi availability to charging stations and travel tips for a smooth journey, this guide has it all covered. Whether you’re flying in or out of Houston for business or pleasure, this article has everything you need to know for a safe and enjoyable trip.

IAH luggage carousel at baggage claim

Overview of Houston’s Airport System

Now, you’re probably wondering about the airport system in Houston. Well, Houston has not one, not two but three airports that cater to travelers from around the world.

These airports are George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Field (EFD). Each of these airports offers different airport services and amenities to passengers.

IAH is the largest airport in Houston and serves as a hub for United Airlines. It handles both domestic and international flights with flight schedules that are available round-the-clock.

HOU, on the other hand, primarily caters to domestic airlines like Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. Lastly, EFD serves as a reliever airport for IAH offering general aviation services along with military operations support.

All three airports have airline partnerships with numerous carriers which give passengers more travel options when flying in or out of Houston. Passengers can also enjoy various passenger amenities such as shopping centers, restaurants and lounges at each of these airports making their travel experience more comfortable and convenient.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) vs. William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)

When it comes to traveling in and out of Houston, visitors have two main options: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

One important factor to consider when choosing between the two is the cost to travel from the airport to downtown Houston. While a taxi or ride-share from IAH can cost around $50-$60, HOU is generally closer and therefore more affordable at around $25-$30.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that IAH is a hub for United Airlines and Spirit Airlines, while HOU serves as a hub for Southwest Airlines.

Cost To Travel To Downtown From IAH

If you’re flying into IAH and need to get to downtown, you’ll want to know the cost and quickest way to get there.

One option is taking a shuttle or taxi, which will cost around $60-70 for a one-way trip. Another option is using public transportation such as the METRO bus or light rail, which costs only $1.25-$3 per person depending on the distance traveled. However, this option may take longer and may not be as convenient if you have luggage.

Ride sharing options like Uber or Lyft are also available at IAH and can provide a more personalized experience at a reasonable price point. The estimated cost of an UberX ride from IAH to downtown Houston ranges between $30-$40 depending on traffic conditions.

Additionally, some hotels in downtown Houston offer complimentary shuttle services for their guests traveling from IAH, so it’s worth checking with your hotel before booking any transportation options.

By considering all these factors and comparing pricing options, travelers can choose the best way to get from IAH to downtown without breaking their budget.

Cost To Travel To Downtown From HOU

To get to downtown from HOU, you’ll want to know the cost and quickest way, which can be determined by considering various transportation options.

The most affordable option is to take public transportation, specifically the METRO bus or rail system. The fare for a one-way trip on a bus or train is $1.25, making it an attractive choice for budget travelers. However, keep in mind that the travel time may be longer than other options due to frequent stops and potential delays.

Ride sharing options such as Uber and Lyft are also available at HOU airport. The fare for a ride to downtown Houston averages around $25-$30 depending on traffic conditions.

For those who prefer driving themselves, parking fees at HOU range from $5 per hour up to $26 per day in terminal garages or economy lots.

Overall, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each transportation option before deciding how you will travel from HOU airport to downtown Houston.

IAH Is a Hub For The Following Airlines

IAH’s airline hub is a bustling gateway to adventure, connecting you to some of the world’s most exciting destinations. Here are some of the top destinations that can be reached from IAH:

  • Mexico City: This vibrant capital city boasts colorful architecture, delicious cuisine, and rich cultural history. Many airlines at IAH offer frequent flights to this destination.
  • New York City: The city that never sleeps is just a short flight away from IAH. With multiple airlines offering daily flights to NYC, travelers can easily explore all the city has to offer.
  • Tokyo: For those looking for a more exotic adventure, Tokyo is one of the many international destinations that can be reached from IAH. Passengers can enjoy in-flight amenities such as comfortable seating and entertainment options on their journey to this bustling metropolis.

In addition to these top destinations, airlines at IAH also offer frequent flight frequencies and various amenities and perks. For example, United Airlines offers Priority Boarding for its MileagePlus members and complimentary drinks and snacks during the flight. Delta Air Lines provides passengers with in-flight entertainment systems with an extensive library of movies, TV shows, games, and music on select aircrafts.

With so many options available at IAH’s airline hub, travelers can find the perfect airline for their travel needs.

HOU Is a Hub For The Following Airlines

As a savvy traveler, you’ll be pleased to know that HOU also serves as a hub for several airlines, offering you even more options and convenience for your next adventure. Some of the Houston airlines that operate out of this airport include Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines. With these major carriers serving HOU, travelers can easily access flight routes to various domestic and international destinations.

In addition to having multiple airlines operating at HOU, travelers can also enjoy various travel perks and airport amenities. For instance, Southwest Airlines offers free checked bags on their flights out of HOU. Also, the airport has several retail shops and dining options where passengers can grab a quick bite or do some shopping before boarding their flight. Moreover, with convenient parking options available at the airport, travelers can easily park their vehicles in one of the on-site parking lots for easy access to departure gates.

Getting To Each Airport

Travelers visiting Houston can choose between two major airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Both airports are located outside the downtown area, but offer convenient transportation options for getting to and from them.

This discussion will explore the various methods of transportation available for travelers who need to get to IAH or HOU. These methods include public transit, ride-sharing services, rental cars, and airport shuttles.

Methods To Get To IAH

Now we’re talking about how you can make your way to the big cheese of Houston’s skies, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). There are several ways to get there and here are four options for you to consider:

  1. Ride sharing options: Both Uber and Lyft operate in Houston and offer transportation services from various locations to IAH. Simply download their app on your smartphone, enter your pick-up location and destination, and a driver will pick you up.
  2. Public transportation: METRO bus routes 102 and 108 provide service between downtown Houston and IAH. The fare is $1.25 per ride, or $3 for a day pass.
  3. Shuttle services: SuperShuttle offers shared-ride van service from various locations around Houston to IAH. The cost depends on the distance traveled but generally ranges from $20-$35 per person.
  4. Taxi services: Taxis are available at both terminals of IAH 24/7. The fares vary depending on the distance traveled but expect to pay around $50-$60 for a ride from downtown Houston to IAH.

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get to the airport before your flight departs. Traffic can be unpredictable in Houston so it’s recommended that you leave early, especially during rush hour times or when there may be inclement weather conditions affecting travel times.

Methods To Get To HOU

Looking for the best way to get to HOU? There are four convenient options for getting to William P. Hobby Airport!

Shuttle services are available from various providers, offering door-to-door service and competitive prices. Some shuttle services even offer discounts for groups or round-trip bookings, making them a great option for families or business travelers.

If you prefer taking a taxi, there are plenty of taxis available throughout Houston. The fare from downtown Houston to HOU typically ranges from $25-$35, depending on traffic and time of day. For those who prefer ride sharing options, both Uber and Lyft operate in Houston and often have lower fares than traditional taxis.

Public transportation routes also connect the city to the airport via bus lines 040 and 050, which run every 30 minutes during peak hours. With so many options available, getting to HOU has never been easier!

Terminal Layout and Amenities at IAH

Get a sneak peek of the terminal layout and all the amenities available at IAH. Terminal amenities at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) are designed to provide travelers with a comfortable and hassle-free experience.

The airport has five terminals, labeled A through E, which are linked by an underground train system called the Skyway. Each terminal is equipped with various facilities such as lounges, restrooms, Wi-Fi access points, charging stations, and baggage storage areas.

Here are some specific details about the amenities available at IAH:

  1. Dining options – There’s a plethora of food choices available in each terminal ranging from fast food to fancy restaurants like Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and Landry’s Seafood House.
  2. Shopping choices – Passengers can indulge in retail therapy while waiting for their flights by visiting stores such as Brookstone, iStore Boutique, or MAC Cosmetics.
  3. Seating arrangements – For those looking for a quiet place to relax or work before their flight departure, they can choose between different seating options, including benches with charging outlets or lounge chairs in the United Club Lounges.
  4. Other amenities – In addition to the services mentioned above, there are also pet relief stations for passengers traveling with furry friends and spa services like XpresSpa located throughout the airport terminals for those who want to unwind before their flight takes off.

Terminal Layout and Amenities at HOU

As you stroll through HOU, take a moment to appreciate the vibrant artwork and unique architecture that sets this airport apart.

The terminal layout at HOU is quite straightforward, with a single terminal serving all airlines. Terminal amenities include plenty of seating areas, charging stations, and a variety of dining options.

Speaking of dining options, passengers at HOU have a plethora to choose from. There are local favorites such as Pappasito’s Cantina and Pink’s Pizza as well as national chains like Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the terminal for those who need to stay connected during their travels.

Parking fees vary depending on how long you plan to leave your vehicle at the airport but there are several options available including covered parking garages and economy lots for budget-conscious travelers.

Understanding Security Procedures

Take a moment to understand the security procedures at HOU as you prepare for your flight, and be sure to follow all guidelines in order to have a smooth travel experience.

First of all, it’s important to know if you’re eligible for TSA Pre check. This program allows expedited screening for trusted travelers who’ve gone through the necessary background checks. If you’re approved for Pre check, you’ll be able to keep on certain items such as shoes, belts, and light jackets during screening. However, if you’re not approved or choose not to participate in this program, plan on removing these items before going through security.

Next up: prohibited items. It’s crucial that you do not attempt to bring any restricted items with you through security at HOU airport. The TSA has a list of prohibited items on their website, which includes sharp objects like knives and scissors, firearms and ammunition (unless properly checked), and larger liquids over 3.4 ounces per container.

Be sure also to review carry-on restrictions so that your bags meet size requirements and don’t contain any restricted items mentioned above. Finally, don’t forget your ID! A valid form of identification is required for all passengers over the age of 18 flying domestically within the US – this can include a passport or driver’s license depending on what state you’re from – so make sure yours is up-to-date before arriving at the airport!

Preparing for TSA Screening

After understanding the security procedures at Houston airports, it’s time to prepare for TSA screening. This process involves several steps that travelers must take to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience.

One of the best ways to expedite this process is by signing up for TSA Precheck benefits. These benefits include shorter wait times, no need to remove shoes or laptops from bags, and a dedicated line for screening.

Additionally, packing for TSA screening requires some forethought as there are specific rules regarding what items can be brought on board a plane. Some items are considered TSA prohibited items and cannot be taken through security checkpoints. Familiarizing oneself with these rules beforehand can save time and prevent any issues during the screening process.

Overall, being prepared and following these guidelines can make traveling through Houston airports much more efficient and stress-free.

Navigating Customs and Immigration

If you thought getting through TSA was a breeze, just wait until you experience the thrill of navigating customs and immigration – it’s a whole other level of excitement!

The customs process can be daunting for first-time travelers, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can be a smooth and hassle-free experience.

To ensure a seamless customs process, travelers should have all required documents ready before arriving at the airport. This includes a valid passport, visa (if applicable), and any necessary forms or declarations.

Wait times can vary depending on the time of day and number of flights arriving at once, so it’s best to arrive early to allow ample time for processing.

For frequent international travelers, enrolling in the Global Entry program can expedite the customs process by allowing them to use automated kiosks instead of waiting in line for an agent.

Overall, being prepared and informed is key to successfully navigating customs and immigration at Houston airports.

Connecting Flights at IAH

So you’re catching a connecting flight at IAH – let’s make sure you know what to expect.

Firstly, it’s important to note that Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is one of the largest and busiest airports in the United States. As such, it has many options for layovers and connections.

If you’re flying with an airline that’s part of an alliance, such as Star Alliance or SkyTeam, your baggage will likely be transferred automatically from your previous flight to your next one. However, if you’re switching airlines or not part of an alliance, you may need to collect your baggage and re-check it for your next flight.

Additionally, delays can happen at any airport, so it’s best to check with your airline about the status of your connection before arriving at IAH. Some airlines offer assistance with rebooking flights in case of a missed connection.

Overall, navigating connecting flights at IAH can be stressful but manageable as long as travelers plan ahead and know their options for layover times and baggage transfer. By being aware of potential flight delays and checking with their airlines for assistance when needed, passengers can successfully navigate their way through this bustling airport.

Connecting Flights at HOU

Navigating connecting flights at HOU can be like a juggling act, with multiple airlines and gates to keep track of. However, the airport’s relatively small size makes it easier to get around compared to larger airports.

The main airline operating out of HOU is Southwest Airlines, which has a hub there and offers numerous connections to other destinations in the United States.

If you have a layover at HOU, there are several options for passing the time. The airport has a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as free Wi-Fi throughout the terminal. Additionally, some airlines offer lounge access for their premium customers or those with certain credit cards.

It’s important to check your flight schedules carefully when connecting at HOU, as some airlines may not have frequent departures or may only operate on certain days of the week. However, many airlines have partnerships with each other that allow for smoother connections and easier transfers between flights.

Parking Options and Fees

Looking for a convenient place to park your car while flying out of HOU? Check out the various parking options and fees available at the airport.

HOU offers valet parking, hourly parking options, economy parking, as well as off-site parking. Here’s a breakdown of each option:

  • Valet Parking: This option is perfect for those who are in a hurry or want extra convenience. The fee starts at $26 per day.
  • Hourly Parking Options: If you need to park for less than an hour, choose this option which costs $1 per 15 minutes with a maximum daily rate of $25.
  • Economy Parking: This option is ideal if you need to park your vehicle for an extended period. It costs $12 per day.

For those looking for even cheaper rates, there are several off-site parking options near HOU that offer free shuttle service to and from the airport. While these may be more inconvenient than on-site options, they can save travelers big bucks in the long run.

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to plan ahead and arrive early to give yourself plenty of time to find parking and get through security before your flight.

Ground Transportation Services

Get ready to hit the road with ease, as you explore the ground transportation services available at HOU.

For those who prefer to drive themselves around, rental car companies like Alamo, Budget and Enterprise have booths located inside the terminal building.

Taxis are also readily available outside the baggage claim areas of all terminals.

Ride-sharing alternatives such as Uber and Lyft operate out of both Hobby Airport and IAH.

Public transportation options are also available for travelers on a budget. METRO Bus 88 is the most convenient choice for getting to downtown Houston, while Bus 102 takes passengers to the METRORail station at Central Station Main Street Square.

Accessibility for disabled travelers is taken seriously by HOU, with wheelchair-accessible taxis and shuttle buses available upon request.

Finally, if you’re traveling in a large group or with bulky luggage, private shuttles or limousine services may be your best bet for a comfortable ride to your destination within Houston city limits.

Rental Car Options and Policies

If you’re planning on driving yourself around during your trip, you’ll want to check out the rental car options and policies available at HOU. Houston’s airports have several popular rental companies located within the airport terminals, including Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. These rental companies offer a variety of vehicle types and sizes to fit your needs.

However, before renting a car at HOU, be aware of the rental car policies and fees that come with it. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Most rental companies require renters to be at least 25 years old.
  2. Rental cars are subject to additional fees such as taxes and insurance.
  3. Some rental companies charge an additional fee for returning the car after hours.
  4. All major credit cards are accepted for payment of rental fees.

It’s important to research each company’s specific policies before making a reservation to avoid any unexpected fees or charges. Also, note that while there are several locations within the airport where you can rent a car in person or make reservations online beforehand, it may be more cost-effective to rent from off-airport locations near HOU if you’re looking for cheaper rates or have a preferred company not located within the airport terminal.

Accommodations Near the Airports

After securing a rental car, the next step for travelers is finding comfortable accommodations near the Houston airports. Fortunately, there are plenty of hotel options and Airbnb accommodations available in close proximity to both George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). These accommodations offer amenities such as free breakfast, Wi-Fi access, fitness centers, and shuttle services to make travel more convenient.

To help travelers make an informed decision on where to stay, here is a table that provides a comparison of hotels and Airbnb accommodations near IAH and HOU airports:

AccommodationDistance from IAH/HOU AirportsAmenities
Marriott Marquis Houston21 miles/12 milesRooftop pool, spa services
Courtyard by Marriott Houston Intercontinental Airport3 miles/16 milesFree airport shuttle service
Hilton Garden Inn Houston/Bush Intercontinental Airport Hotel2 miles/18 milesOn-site restaurant with room service
Comfort Suites Hobby Airport Hotel8.5 miles/0.5 mileFree hot breakfast

In addition to these options, many Airbnb hosts offer cozy rooms or entire homes for rent near the Houston airports. It is important to note that while some may prefer the privacy and home-like feel of an Airbnb accommodation, others may prefer the convenience and amenities offered by traditional hotels.

For those who want to explore outside their accommodations or need a bite before catching their flight, there are also nearby restaurants such as Pappasito’s Cantina and The Breakfast Klub that offer delicious food options. With various accommodation choices available near both IAH and HOU airports along with easy access to dining options through ride-sharing apps or shuttle services provided by hotels/Airbnb hosts themselves, travelers can rest assured they will have a comfortable stay before embarking on their journey.

Dining Options at IAH

As you explore the vast and bustling George Bush Intercontinental Airport, don’t forget to indulge in the delicious dining options available. With a range of restaurants catering to different dietary restrictions, there’s something for everyone.

Here are some menu recommendations from popular restaurants to help you make your decision:

  • Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen: Known for its Cajun and Creole cuisine, this restaurant offers everything from gumbo to po’boys. Their seafood platters and fried catfish are highly recommended.
  • Ember: For those looking for healthier options, Ember is a great choice. They offer fresh salads, grain bowls, and vegetable sides. Don’t miss out on their signature hummus bowl.
  • Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar: This Tex-Mex restaurant serves up classic dishes like tacos and quesadillas along with unique items like elote (grilled corn) and ceviche.

For those looking for a more upscale experience or just a place to relax before their flight, there are also airport lounge options available such as the United Club Lounge or the Centurion Lounge by American Express. These lounges offer premium food and drink offerings along with comfortable seating areas to unwind before your journey.

Dining Options at HOU

You’ll be delighted to know that there are plenty of dining options available at HOU, each with their own unique menu offerings to satisfy your cravings. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal, HOU has got you covered.

For those who are health-conscious, Freshii offers salads, wraps, and bowls made with whole ingredients and customizable to fit various dietary restrictions. Their prices range from $7-10.

If you’re in the mood for some Tex-Mex cuisine, Pappasito’s Cantina serves up traditional dishes like fajitas and enchiladas with a modern twist. They also have vegetarian options available upon request.

The restaurant boasts an upscale ambiance with dim lighting and wood paneling. Prices vary from $12-30 depending on what you order.

No matter what type of food or atmosphere you’re in the mood for, HOU has something to offer every traveler passing through its gates.

Shopping at the Airports

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the airport shopping options at HOU while waiting for your flight. There’s something for everyone, from duty-free options to souvenir stores.

If you’re looking for luxury brands, head over to the Duty-Free Americas store located in Terminal A. You’ll find a variety of high-end products from fragrances and cosmetics to liquor and tobacco.

For those looking for souvenirs or gifts, check out one of the many gift shops throughout the airport such as Texas Treasures in Terminal B or Lone Star Attitude in Terminal C. These stores offer a variety of Texas-themed items including clothing, hats, and local food products.

Don’t forget to stop by one of the many convenience stores throughout the airport if you need any last-minute travel essentials such as snacks or toiletries.

Wi-Fi and Charging Stations

Get ready to stay connected and charged up during your airport experience with the Wi-Fi and charging stations available throughout HOU. Whether you need to catch up on work or simply want to browse social media, the airport has you covered.

Here are some key factors to keep in mind when using the Wi-Fi and charging stations at HOU:

  1. Wi-Fi reliability: HOU offers free Wi-Fi throughout the airport, but like any public network, it can be subject to connectivity issues. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan in case you encounter difficulties connecting.
  2. Charging station availability: There are plenty of charging stations located throughout both terminals for your convenience. However, during peak travel times they may be in high demand so plan accordingly.
  3. Connection speed: The connection speed at HOU is generally reliable and fast enough for basic internet usage such as email, web browsing and streaming music.
  4. Power outlet accessibility: In addition to charging stations, there are also power outlets located throughout both terminals for those who prefer traditional plug-in charging methods. These outlets can often be found near seating areas or in designated workspaces within the airport.

Overall, staying connected while traveling through HOU is easy thanks to their reliable Wi-Fi network and ample charging options. Just remember to plan ahead during busy travel periods and bring a backup power source just in case!

Travel Tips and Recommendations

Ready to soar through your airport experience? Take a look at these travel tips and recommendations to make the most of your journey. First, don’t forget to pack some travel accessories that can make your trip more comfortable and convenient. These include noise-cancelling headphones, a neck pillow, and a portable charger for your electronics. Having these items on hand can help you relax during long flights or layovers.

Next, it’s important to remember your packing essentials. Make sure you have all necessary documents such as passports and boarding passes, as well as any medication or toiletries you may need during the trip. Additionally, consider packing light to avoid excess baggage fees or difficulty maneuvering through the airport with heavy luggage. Once you arrive at the airport, consider checking out any available airport lounges for a more relaxing pre-flight experience. Lastly, familiarize yourself with the local transportation options in Houston so that you can easily navigate from the airport to your final destination.

Travel AccessoryPurposeRecommendation
Noise-Cancelling HeadphonesBlock out ambient noiseBose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II
Neck PillowProvide support for head and neck while sleepingCabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow
Portable ChargerKeep electronics charged on-the-goAnker PowerCore 10000mAh Portable Charger

Incorporating these travel accessories into your carry-on bag can greatly enhance your travel experience by providing comfort and entertainment during long flights or layovers. Don’t forget to pack them along with other packing essentials such as necessary documents and toiletries before embarking on your journey!

Conclusion: Have a Safe and Enjoyable Trip!

In conclusion, traveling to and from Houston’s airports can be a breeze with the right preparation and knowledge. Remember to take into account travel safety measures when packing your essentials for the trip.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with local attractions and cultural experiences that Houston has to offer during your stay. When it comes down to it, having a safe and enjoyable trip is all about being prepared.

Whether you’re flying in or out of Houston, make sure you have all your travel documents in order and give yourself plenty of time at the airport. With these tips in mind, you can confidently navigate through one of America’s busiest cities while enjoying all that Houston has to offer!

Have a safe and enjoyable trip!


In conclusion, Houston’s airport system is a traveler’s paradise. It offers flexibility and convenience to all travelers with two major airports to choose from – George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

The terminal layouts are well-designed with plenty of amenities such as shopping, dining, charging stations, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a veteran traveler, flying in and out of Houston has never been easier.

With proper planning and preparation, one can navigate the airports seamlessly. So, pack your bags, book your flights, and get ready to experience the best of what Houston has to offer! Safe travels!

Josh Koop

Discover Space City is a Houston blog by Josh and Jaime, a married couple that loves to discover new things at home and around the world.