George Bush Intercontinental Airport
Until its opening in 1969, William P. Hobby Airport was the main airport of the region, serving quite a bit of intercontinental service. While Intercontinental was meant to replace Hobby, it ended up supplementing it to the point that there was even planes flying between the two as "cross-town shuttles" in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Continental Airlines established a dual hub system with IAH and Hobby, and United eventually inherited the Intercontinental hub when they merged. In fact, this airport is United's largest hub and also hosts the airline's (and one of the world's) longest flight (Houston - Sydney). Houston is also United's main hub for Latin America, so it has nonstop flights to most cities in Mexico, in addition to Central and South America.
If you're traveling with Southwest the majority of its flights land and take off at William P Hobby Airport (HOU IATA), another airport (11 mi (18 km)) south of and closer to downtown and midtown Houston. However, since 2021, Southwest also offers flights into or out of George Bush International Airport. American Eagle, Delta/Delta Connection, and Frontier offer flights to both airports while Allegiant serves only Houston Hobby.
There are five terminals at the airport - Terminals A-C for domestic flights, and Terminals D and E for international flights.
The airport is a hub for United and that airline operates flights out of almost in every terminal.
|Terminal A |
Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, United (check in at Terminal B), WestJet
|Terminal B |
|Terminal C |
|Terminal D |
Aeromexico, Air China, Air France, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Avianca, Bahamasair, British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, VivaAerobus, Volaris
|Terminal E |
There are some interesting fifth-freedom flights here - Singapore Airlines operates a Houston-Manchester-Singapore flight, and Air China operates a Beijing-Houston-Panama City flight.
All international arrivals except preclearance flights must go through customs. While the building for that is techinally part of Terminal E, in practice it is shared by both international terminals D and E (terminals that are already quite interconnected, sharing a check-in area), which have bridges to the international arrivals processing area.
For those arriving on international flights, Immigration and Customs process usually takes 15–30 minutes, but can take over an hour at peak times. The busiest times are in the afternoon and evening.
Like all airports in the United States, there are no special transit facilities for international transfers. That means that if you are arriving from an international flight and have an immediate connection, you will still have to pass through Customs and Immigration. For details of entry and visa requirements see get in section of United States page.
The light rail hasn't been extended to the airport yet, so car or bus travel are your best options.
From Downtown Houston, the Hardy Toll Road is usually the easiest way to reach the airport; however, an EZ Tag is required, as all tolls are collected electronically. Alternatively, taking the Eastex Freeway (I-69/US 59) to Will Clayton Parkway is another good option, especially for visitors. Avoid taking the North Freeway (I-45) to the airport if possible, as it is prone to traffic congestion.
By rental car
Another option is to pick up a rental car at IAH. To do so, you will take the shared shuttle from the airport terminal to the 1 IAH Rental Car Center at 17330 Palmetto Pines. Free shuttle buses frequently travel between terminals and the car rental facility, taking about 5 to 7 minutes to travel one way. The following companies are inside the facility:
- Advantage Rent A Car, toll-free: .
- Alamo, toll-free: .
- Avis Rent a Car, ☏ . Daily 24 hours.
- Budget Car Rental, ☏ . Daily open 24 hrs.
- Dollar, toll-free: .
- Enterprise, toll-free: .
- E-Z Rent-A-Car, toll-free: , [email protected].
- National, toll-free: .
- Thrifty, toll-free: .
- Payless, toll-free: .
- Sixt, toll-free: .
By public transit
2 Metro (Stop on south side of Terminal C), ☏ . Houston's public transit system, including light rail, bus rapid transit, and local buses. Despite the name, Houston does not have a metro (i.e. subway) system. $1.25 per single ride.
- Metro operates the 102 Bush IAH Express bus between Terminal C and downtown via Greenspoint Mall. It makes local stops in downtown, near Greenspoint Mall, and near the airport, but otherwise travels on freeways for most of the route. Trips generally depart every 30 minutes through the day on all days, except it operates more frequently toward downtown during the weekday morning rush hours and more frequently toward the airport during the weekday afternoon rush hours. Travel time between downtown and the airport is 1 to 1.25 hours.
By shuttle bus
- GroundShuttle operates shuttle buses between Bush-IAH airport and College Station. Buses depart every 90 minutes on weekdays, less often on weekends. Prices are $50 one way.
There are several different levels of pricing for parking at the airport, depending on proximity to the terminal and level of service. In addition, there are private parking services near the airport that will drop you off at a terminal like the Parking Spot, Fast Park & Relax, and Park 'N Fly.
There are terminal garages at all five terminals at IAH, with self-parking as well as valet parking.
Terminal Garage Self-Parking Rates: 0-1 hr - $5.00 1-2 hrs - $6.00 2-3 hrs - $8.00 3-5 hrs - $10.00 5-24 hrs - $24.00
If you are leaving your vehicle at the airport, there are many options.
- Leave it in the parking garage at any terminal for $24 a day.
- There are two economy long term parking lots offering covered and uncovered parking at 16152 John F. Kennedy Blvd and 5021 Will Clayton Parkway.
- Private parking facilities are on JFK Blvd. and on Will Clayton Parkway. All provide shuttle service to all terminals.
There are two train services - the Skyway (post-security) and the Subway (pre-security). They stop at all the terminals (Terminals D and E are combined into one stop). The Subway makes an extra stop at the airport Marriott.
- Air China.
- Air France.
- American Airlines Admirals Club.
- British Airways.
- American Express Centurion Lounge.
- EVA Air.
- Qatar Airways. Opens 4 hours before departure.
- United Lounges.
- United Club.
- Terminal E, between Gates E11 and E12.
- Terminal C, South Concourse, toward Gate C33.
- Terminal B, South Mezzanine, above the United Express ticket counter.
- Terminal A, across from Gate A9.
- Terminal C, near Gate C1. 5:30AM-10:30PM.
- United Polaris Lounge, Terminal E, between the United Club location and Gate E12.
- United Club.
- USO Lounge.
- XpresSpa. Manicure $20, 10-minute massage $25.
- (Near Gate A17), ☏ . Daily 5AM-9:30PM.
Eat and drink
- Agave Taqueria (Gate C33)
- Chik-fil-A (Gates A17, Terminal B Food Court)
- Cat Cora’s Kitchen (Gate E10)
- Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar (Gate A24)
- Hard Rock Cafe (Gate B85).
- Hubcap Grill & Beer Yard [dead link] (Gate A26)
- Hugo's Cocina (Gate D6)
- Jack In The Box (Gate A7)
- Landry's Seafood (Gate C42)
- Olio (Gate C14)
- Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen (Gate E3)
- Pappasito's Cantina (Gate E1)
- Pink's Pizza (Gate C42)
- Ruby's Diner [dead link] (Terminal E Security Checkpoint)
- Southern Belle (Gate C44)
- The Breakfast Klub (Gate A7)
- Tony's Wine Cellar & Bistro[dead link] (Gate D9)
- Whataburger (Gate B1)
- Vida Taqueria (Gate C6)
- Yume (Gate E11)
- Zori Bistro (Gate E24)
IAH has several retail stores, including several magazine stands and bookstores. Other retail stores include Brooks Brothers, Eddie Bauer, Corsa Collections, Pandora, Sunglass Hut, Swarovski, The Body Shop, Johnston & Murphy, and Victoria's Secret. There is a large duty free store in Terminal D near gate D7, it is ATU’s largest store in the U.S. and uniquely designed as the airport’s only walkthrough store. There are also duty free stores at seven other locations at Bush Airport, two locations in Terminal E, two kiosks in Terminal A and a shop in Terminal B.
The airport has free Wi-Fi - connect to "Free Airport WIFI" and agree to the terms to get connected. Power outlets have been added in many seating areas in most terminals.
- U.S.O., ☏ . The U.S.O. has a center and a lounge located in Terminal D for active and reserve military personnel.
- 1 Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental is the only hotel that is directly attached to the airport with on-site restaurant, lounge, fitness, and conference facilities.
Most airport hotels are either south along John F. Kennedy Boulevard or just east of the airport along Will Clayton Parkway. Virtually all of them run shuttle buses to the airport. For more information on hotels close to the airport, see North Houston.
Businesses supporting the airport include chain hotels, private parking facilities, restaurants and gas stations. Many of these are along JFK Blvd., Beltway 8, and Will Clayton Parkway over to I-69/US-59. If you are returning a rental car to the airport, and need to fill the tank, there are 2 stations close to the airport on the corner of JFK Blvd. and Greens Road, an Exxon and a Shell: for some bizarre reason, Shell charges about $1 more per gallon than Exxon. Smart travelers check gas prices.