HOUSTON — The extended Thanksgiving holiday travel season is officially underway.
This year, Houston airport officials are expecting 2.3 million people to travel through Bush and Hobby airports. That’s up 9% from this time last year and up 3% from 2019, just before the pandemic.
With Houston airports expecting extra traffic, officials are recommending travelers show up an hour earlier than normal.
The top three busiest days are expected to be Sunday, November 20, the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
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About three of every four Houstonians that are flying this holiday will travel through Bush Intercontinental Airport.
“We weren’t expecting all the traffic when we pulled up,” said Christine Marker of Spring . “That was the worst part.”
It took Marker about 20 minutes to get from just inside the airport to the parking garage.
“Get here early,” Marker said. “At minimum, two hours before your flight leaves.”
That’s what traveler Brian Gawlik did for his flight back home to Chicago.
“I left really early. I still have another two-and-a-half hours before my flight,” Gawlik said. “So, I’m in good shape.”
“Thanksgiving really is the busiest time of the year for the airport,” said airport spokesperson Augusto Bernal.
Bernal said they’ve seen a dramatic improvement since spring in traffic congestion caused by the construction of the new international terminal.
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He also said utility relocation that closed two lanes of North Terminal Drive last month has finished.
“This time around, you won’t see that much work on the roadways,” Bernal said. “It’s pretty much just the amount of travelers coming to the airport that’s going to create that congestion.”
You should also double-check what you can and can’t bring on your carry-on – another common slowdown.
Bernal said a lot of the traffic on roads around the terminals comes from people circling.
If you’re picking up a friend or family member, wait in the cell phone lot until they’re curbside.