Houston’s airports offer 12 tips to make holiday travel a treat

More than 3.7 million passengers are expected to travel in, out and through both George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport during the year-end holiday travel season

Dec. 21, 2018

HOUSTON — The jolly old elf won’t be the only person flying around during this Holiday travel season.

The year-end holiday travel season kicked off Dec. 14, and Airlines 4 America estimates nearly 31 million passengers will fly between then and Jan. 6, 2019. Over that same period, more than 3.7 million passengers are expected to travel in, out and through both George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport. During that time, Bush Airport expects to see a little more than 3 million passengers, while Hobby Airport estimates more than 720,000 passengers will pass through the airport.

The busiest period began this week, with more than 1.6 million passengers expected to fly in, out and through Bush Airport between Dec. 21 and Jan. 2, while Hobby Airport will provide service to more than 413,000 passengers during that same period.

So, in the holiday spirit, here are the “12 Tips of Holiday Travel” to help make your “sleigh ride” go smoothly.

For the first Tips for the Holidays: Be prepared and informed. By using the award-winning fly2houston.com website, travelers will be armed with all the information they need to take charge of their trip.  It provides a wealth of information tailored to meet the specific travel needs of passengers. Available in English, Spanish and now Chinese, whether departing, arriving or connecting, the complete passenger journey — from getting to the airport to getting to the gate for a flight — is the focus, providing information on parking cost and spaces available at both airports, as well as near-real-time wait times for security and immigration/customs checkpoints, ground transportation options, dining and shopping options, flight information and more.

For the second Tip for the Holidays: Remember the WiFi is free. Both Bush and Hobby offer fast, free WiFi within the terminals, meaning the wealth of information available on the award-winning fly2houston.com website is available even at the airport. The website is mobile-friendly, and the free Wi-Fi puts all that information at your fingertips — literally, with your smart phones and mobile devices.

For the third Tip for the Holidays: If you are picking up passengers, save the miles on your “sleigh” by using the available cell phone lots at both airports. Both Bush Airport and Hobby Airport have an “active loading” policy, which means that while dropping off or picking up passengers, parking is not permitted on the ramps or near the terminal in those designated loading and unloading areas. But, the convenient and close-by cell phone lots are always open and allow you to park short term free while you wait to pick someone up. There are two cell phone lots at Bush Airport — one just off northbound John F. Kennedy Boulevard and a new expanded location on westbound Will Clayton Boulevard — and at Hobby Airport a cell phone lot is available on eastbound Airport Boulevard, just before the entrance to the airport. Information on the Bush Airport lots can be found online at this link, and at Hobby Airport at this link.

For the fourth Tip for the Holidays: Know where you are going. Passengers can navigate the airport terminals on fly2houston.com with an interactive map system that is mobile-device friendly and available in both English and Spanish. This intuitive tool will guide you step-by-step to where you want to go throughout the airport, with a real-time estimate of walking times to your gate or destination, including live security wait times. Use with any device; no app to download. This feature now shows user location as a blue dot for Apple devices in Safari. You can find that feature for Bush Airport at this link, and for Hobby Airport at this link.

For the fifth Tip for the Holidays: Let your fingers do the walking before you do. Both Bush and Hobby now have interactive information kiosks that provide a wealth of helpful information — now available in both English and Spanish at Hobby. Passengers can get directions to their boarding gates by entering their flight information or scanning their boarding pass in the updated search function. The kiosks take that information and display a 3D map that will show the quickest and most efficient route to the departing gate. And, to keep those directions handy, travelers can choose to have a map of their route sent directly to their smartphone in a text message. As well, travelers can find pertinent information, like weather updates, airport shopping and dining options, and a variety of services available. The kiosks in the baggage claim area include information on nearby hotels — with a phone available to let you call select hotels directly to make reservations — as well as ground transportation.

For the sixth Tip for the Holidays: Make sure you have a spot to park before you get to the airport. Reserve a spot in either ecopark location at Bush Airport early by making a reservation here. Get information online on parking spaces available at Bush Airport at this link and at Hobby Airport at this link.

For the seventh Tip for the Holidays: Leave the driving to us by using the park-and-ride service available at ecopark locations at both airports. Along with new routes that make shuttle rides from ecopark and ecopark2 lots at Bush Airport quicker and more efficient, improved GPS technology now provides updates on when shuttles will arrive at the terminals. New curbside kiosks at the terminals provide the estimated times for the next two shuttle bus arrivals, and passengers at Bush Airport can track the progress of the shuttles on fly2houston.com at this link. A nearby ecopark option at Hobby makes that choice quick and convenient. For information on ecopark options at Bush Airport, check this link. For information on the ecopark option at Hobby Airport, check this link.

For the eighth Tip for the Holidays: Come early and relax a little. Houston Airports have plenty of amenities to help enhance the passenger experience before their flight. Harmony in the Air is a live performing arts program featuring some of the Houston’s best local talent. Schedules for performances at Bush Airport can be found at this link and at Hobby Airport at this link. Take time to enjoy the new concessions available at Houston Airports featuring local favorites like Pink’s Pizza to well-known brands like Dylan’s Candy Bar. Pamper yourself at Hobby Airport at XpresSpa and head to your destination refreshed. Finish your Holiday shopping. Houston Airports offers a wide of retail shops that are sure to please from Mac Cosmetics to Pandora, Best Buy, Paul & Shark and many more. For dining and shopping options at Bush Airport check this link, and at Hobby Airport check this link.

For the ninth Tip for the Holidays: Use fly2houston.com to plan for your trip through security. Updates on the time it takes to clear the seven Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints at the five terminals at Bush Airport can be found at this link, and updates for the time it takes to clear the TSA security checkpoint at Hobby Airport can be found at this link.

For the 10th Tip for the Holidays: It’s important to remember that TSA has implemented new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image. Also, passengers should have boarding pass and ID ready for display, remove shoes and everything from pockets before going through the metal detector or whole-body imaging technology at the checkpoint. Follow the 3-1-1 rule regarding liquids in your carry-on bag. Visit the TSA’s website — tsa.gov — for a list of prohibited items and helpful travel tips, and if you’re a member of TSA Pre✓, follow the signs at checkpoints to participate in expedited screening.

For the 11th Tip for the Holiday: Get charged free of charge. Using your smart device and the free WiFi at Houston’s airports is made a whole lot easier by the increased number of outlets available to charge smart phones and mobile devices. With the addition of seating in many gate areas that feature available outlets and the addition of new stand-alone charging stations, there are approximately 10,000 outlets available combined between the two airports.

For the 12th Tip for the Holiday: Take care of the kids. Traveling with children can be a challenge, but there are ways to make bringing young ones to the airport easier. YOu can find more tips for traveling with kids at Bush Airport at this link, and at Hobby Airport at this link. Find information on family restrooms, mothers’ rooms, kid-friendly dining options and more at fly2houston.com.

For more information, the first stop on your holiday trip should always be fly2houston.com.

Animation videos available

Bush Airport

Hobby Airport