More passengers are expected to depart, connect and arrive to/from Houston this holiday season since the onset of the pandemic – signaling a continued, healthy air-travel rebound. Safety measures activated through Houston Airports’ FlySafe Houston program remain a focus as more passengers take to the skies.
George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and William P. Hobby (HOU) airports are expecting to serve more than 800,000 passengers during the 11-day Thanksgiving travel period – starting the Friday before Thanksgiving to the Monday following the holiday. While passenger traffic is expected to be down about 50% from the same period last year, air travel has steadily increased since the lowest point of the pandemic in April. Overall, November passenger numbers in Houston are expected to see a recovery of nearly 40% compared to April – a promising new peak.
“Passengers want to travel again, and that’s a very encouraging sign,” Houston Airports Director Mario Diaz said. “It’s been a very difficult year for the air-service industry. Understandably, confidence in flying has taken time to restore. That’s why we have made it a commitment and priority to implement safety and health measures at every step of the travel experience. The airlines, federal agencies, concessionaires and all our airport partners have also added extra layers of precautions. We all work diligently every day for the well-being of our passengers.”
Being prepared and informed is the best way to start your journey. Passengers should set a reminder to bring their masks, which are required to be worn inside the airport. Complimentary masks are available for free at select locations and times and are also available for purchase in kiosk vending machines and airport shops. Passengers are strongly encouraged to check with their respective airline for other mask guidelines and requirements.
Passengers may also notice more touchless technology has been integrated into the airport to stop the spread of COVID-19. Some airlines have installed touchless baggage service kiosks. International passengers at Bush and Hobby airports will be processed through immigration checkpoints using new facial comparison technology.
Arriving early to the airport is important. Passengers are urged to arrive at least two hours before their scheduled domestic departure or three hours before their international departure to ensure plenty of time for parking and unloading.
Friends and family members who are picking up passengers should use the available cellphone lots at both airports so that they are not crowding the curbside at airport terminals. Using cellphone lots will allow for better social distancing for curbside passengers.
Passengers now have the power to pre-book, adjust, cancel and request a refund at ecopark, the terminal garages or even valet reservations by visiting fly2houston.com.
Passengers at Bush Airport can use kiosks at the terminals to receive estimated wait times for shuttle bus arrivals.
Houston Airports is enforcing proper social distancing on shuttles and have increased the number of shuttles in operation to avoid delays.
Passengers can monitor TSA checkpoint wait times in real time. TSA has implemented extra health and safety measures at its TSA checkpoints. Passengers are permitted to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers should continue to follow the 3-1-1 rule regarding liquids in carry-on bags.
Houston Airports has 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 Houston’s best local talent. Many concessions are open and passengers can enjoy shops and restaurants featuring local favorites and exciting brands. In addition, Houston Airports recently opened a 1,000-square-foot yoga studio in Terminal A inside security near Gate 3. Children also have a place to unwind in new play areas located at both Hobby Airport – across from Gate 4 and at Bush in Terminal A near Gate 6.
Enhanced cleanings are performed at all high-touch point areas of Houston’s airports.
About Flysafe Houston: FlySafe Houston is a safety program launched in June and includes new and enhanced safety measures at all terminals, such as masks/face coverings worn by all Houston Airports employees, touchless kiosks at select airline-ticketing counters, facial-comparison technology at select departing and immigration entry points, deep cleanings, social-distancing markers in queues, safety shields, installment of additional hand-sanitizer stations, increased frequency of air-filter replacements, and public announcements and signage to promote good hygiene and social distancing.