Prepare for a record-shattering Thanksgiving travel season at Houston airports
As Houstonians prepare their Thanksgiving feasts (and their off-limits table discussion topics lists), the city’s airport system prepares for a record-shattering holiday travel season.
Houston Airports officially estimates a record 2.4 million passengers this Thanksgiving travel season, which in this case begins Thursday, November 16 and ends Tuesday, November 28.
That means travelers can expect massive numbers at both George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). During the 13-day period, that breakdown means:
- Approximately 1.8 million travelers through George Bush Intercontinental Airport
- Some 540,000 travelers passing through Hobby Airport
By the numbers, the 2.4 million expected travelers this year reflects a 6 percent increase from the same period in 2019, and an 11 percent increase from 2022.
Traditionally, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has been one of the busiest travel days. But Houston Airports notes in press materials that travelers are choosing to book flights earlier this year to beat the rush — even with children in school in the first days of the holiday travel period.
With that trend, this year, the Friday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday are forecasted to be the single busiest air travel days in Houston. Here’s the breakdown:
- Friday, November 17: more than 200,000 expected travelers
- Sunday, November 26: more than 212,000 expected travelers
Those who need to travel but aren’t on a set schedule should consider two days for less-congested trip options. Thanksgiving Day — Thursday, November 23 — is expected to see a mere 125,000 expected travelers. Meanwhile, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — Tuesday, November 28 — should see 165,000 travelers expected to pass through the two airports.
Another Houston Airport travel tip: Travelers utilizing airport parking should reserve parking online at least 12 hours before arriving at the airport. Importantly, this is the only way to guarantee a parking space during a frenzied travel season. Reserve parking here.
Don’t forget one more potential travel time snare: construction of IAH’s new international terminal. Travelers should keep in mind that in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, trucks will be delivering multi-ton pieces of steel trusses to Bush IAH, and only during the day, per safety guidelines.