When it comes to holiday travel, not everyone enjoys the luxury of a reindeer-driven charter flight. In fact, millions across the country will load up family and gifts and take to the air in the weeks to come, heading to airports and destinations both near and far.
At Houston’s commercial airports, air travelers enjoy dozens of nonstop domestic and international destination options, as well as a diverse and growing menu of dining and shopping options to choose from for convenience and, if needed, last-minute gift buying.
So, with hundreds of thousands of passengers expected to travel through George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport during the traditional holiday travel season, the Houston Airport System offers some tips to help make your trip smooth and stress-free.
In the spirit of the season, these “12 Airport Hacks of Holiday Travel” can help travelers avoid finding a lump of coal in their stocking:
- Make your phone REALLY smart: The Houston Airport System’s award-winning fly2houston.com website should be the first stop on any traveler’s trip through Houston’s airports. It is mobile-friendly and has information tailored to the passenger’s specific needs, whether arriving, departing or connecting. And, it’s easy to make the site accessible from your smart phone by adding it to your home screen. On an iPhone, pull up fly2houston.com on your browser, then click on the sharing symbol (+Add to Home Screen) and “Add” to easily access the website by clicking on the icon on your home screen. On an Android phone, pull up fly2houston.com on your browser, tap the menu button and tap “Add to home screen.”
- Plan your time: On that fly2houston website, it’s easy to check for live TSA security checkpoint wait times and use that information to plan when you arrive at the airport accordingly. If at Bush Airport and the security line in Terminal A North takes longer, why not go through Terminal A South? Bush Airport information is available at this link. Hobby Airport information is available at this link.
- Ensure a quicker trip through security: Make getting through those security checkpoints even easier by enrolling in the Custom and Border Protection Agency’s Global Entry program. For $100, members get expedited processing and TSA Pre√ status (the latter alone is an $85 value). Learn more about TSA Pre√ at this link and Global Entry at this link.
- Breeze through Immigration: International travelers can download the Mobile Passport Control app on your phone. Mobile Passport Control is the first authorized app to expedite an international traveler’s entry process into the United States and streamlines the traveler inspection process. Learn more about Mobile Passport Control at this link. To download the app on Apple devices check this link, and for Android devices check this link.
- Leave the parking to us: Valet parking is a quick and easy way to start your trip at the airport. It offers convenient parking for only $4 more per day ($26 versus $22) in each terminal garage. Learn more about parking at Bush Airport at this link, and about the affordable valet option at this link. Learn more about parking at Hobby Airport at this link, and about the affordable valet option at this link.
- Know before you go (home): If terminal garage parking isn’t something you’re interested in, the two ecopark locations at Bush Airport offer affordable and convenient parking — plus new technology that ensures a quick shuttle trip to and from the Bush Airport terminals, as well as curbside kiosks at pickup locations that provide updates on when the next shuttle will arrive. Travelers can track shuttles at this fly2houston link for ecopark or ecopark2, or users can download the ETA Spot app for Apple devices or Android devices. The expanded ecopark location at Hobby Airport offers affordable and convenient parking. Learn about ecopark at this link.
- Find your way. . .or a breakfast taco: The fly2houston website offers the world’s first browser-based interactive map program — and no app download required! The handy tool allows travelers to map their journey from garage to gate, and offers suggestions on options to dine or shop along the route to or near the gate destination. For information at Bush Airport, start your journey here, and For information at Hobby Airport, start your journey here
- Don’t stand patiently in front of the departures and arrivals boards: Get it on your phone! Flight information is available on fly2houston.com for Bush Airport at this link, and for Hobby Airport at this link. Just search your flight number for the most up-to-date information, including flight status and gate number.
- Local foods available: Search “Local Food” on the website Dine page for Bush Airport at this link, and at Hobby Airport at this link. Local food choices at Bush Airport include Hugo’s Cocina near gate D6, Olio near gate C14, Ray’s BBQ Shack in the Terminal B Food Court, Tony’s Wine Cellar & Bistro near gate D10, and Whataburger near Gates B1-B31. Local food choices at Hobby Airport include Houston’s beloved Barry’s Pizza in the food court near gates 20 and 21, as well as the gamut of local Pappas family restaurants.
- Research restaurants in advance: The fly2houston website also allows travelers to search by kid-friendly, gluten-free, grab & go, vegan and vegetarian, open now, terminal and even price! There are clickable menus for each and every place to dine at Bush Airport at this link, and at Hobby Airport at this link. There are more than 100 options for dining under $10.
- Enjoy some culture: Both visual and musical artists are on display at both airports. Images and a map of the art on display at Bush Airport can be found at this link, and the popular Harmony In The Air music program offers a variety of local musicians to enjoy while waiting for a flight. Images and a map of the art on display at Hobby Airport can be found at this link, and Harmony In The Air music program at this link.
- Don’t drive laps around the airport: If you’re picking up family members, avoid traffic lines and burning gas. Wait in one of two free cell phone parking lots when picking up a passenger. Find info on the two lots at Bush Airport at this link, and the Hobby Airport cell phone lot at this link.
To learn more about all the tools ready help make your trip go smoothly, check fly2houston.com.