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A Guide to Houston’s Airports: Which One to Use and More! 

A Guide to Houston’s Airports Which One to Use and More

With pandemic restrictions easing worldwide, Houston is a popular spot for tourists and Texas locals alike. Photographers and videographers are starting to come from all over to capture the beauty of Houston’s skyline from Buffalo Bayou Park. 

The once empty streets lined up with taco trucks, bookstores, and apartments are now filled with people in awe of all Houston has to offer. 

Surely, not every tourist has the time to drive all the way to Houston. Fortunately, the city has two major airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport. 

The former uses the International Air Transport Association station code IAH whereas the latter uses the code HOU. 

Now, choosing which Houston airport can be influenced by a number of factors, such as your budget, the time of year, what event you are attending (or leaving the city for) and the type of flight you are taking.

Here’s a guide to help you choose the perfect Houston area airport to meet your travel needs. 

Why does Houston have two airports?

Houston has two airports because the two serve slightly different purposes. 

The smaller HOU (Hobby Airport) is preferred by domestic fliers and those heading to the city due to its proximity to Downtown Houston. 

Meanwhile, the larger IAH (Bush Airport) is preferred by and serves more international fliers.

The latter is fairly easy to understand. With more airlines and flights arriving and departing every day, George Bush Intercontinental obviously offers passengers far more international options. 

William P. Hobby offers fewer airlines and flights, by comparison, although it’s also closer to Houston’s downtown area – 7 miles vs George Bush International Airport’s 23, in fact. 

This means that getting through security is relatively easy here even during busy travel times, and pickup and drop-off arrangements are much simpler, especially if you’re heading to the city.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport 

WebsiteGeorge Bush Intercontinental Airport 
Address2800 N Terminal Rd, Houston TX 77032 USA 


  • Excellent airline network 
  • International and domestic airport 


  • Luggage restrictions  

IAH Airlines

IAH offers a variety of airlines for travelers to choose from when visiting and leaving Houston. 

Airlines at IAH

  • AeroMexico, Air Canada, Air France, Air China, Air New Zealand, Alaska, American Airlines, ANA, Avianca 
  • British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Eva Air, Frontier, Interjet, JetBlue, KLM, Lufthansa 
  • Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, Spirit, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines
  • VivaAerobus, Volaris, & WestJet

Facilities & Services at IAH 

Here is a brief list of the type of facilities and services you can expect to find at IAH. 

  • Free Wifi
  • Admirals Club
  • AirFrance Lounge
  • KLM Crown Lounge
  • United Club
  • British Airways Lounge 
  • ATMS 
  • Courtesy Phones
  • Postal Services
  • SIM Cards 
  • Nursery & baby care facilities 
  • Various food concessions
  • Travelers aid 
  • Mobile Charging 

Transportation from IAH 

METRO Bus is by far the cheapest way to travel from Houston Intercontinental. 

In peak times, METRO’s public bus number 102 departs from Terminal C every 15 minutes, and off-peak, roughly every half hour, connecting onward to Houston’s Downtown Transit Center. 

Don’t expect a quick trip despite the Express’ name. The travel time to downtown varies from 60 to 90 minutes, but it costs $1.25. Its value cannot be matched (cash only or preloaded Q card).

Based on Uber and Lyft estimates, the trip from IAH to downtown costs between $26 and $30. If you want to get to Minute Maid Park or Discovery Green from the airport, you will have to pay around $30. 

If you prefer some local insight from a cab driver, you’ll have to pay! You can expect to pay around $60 for a taxi ride from the airport to downtown, not including tip. 

Travelers seeking trips to the city center will find rideshare apps a clear winner with fares nearly half that of taxis.

For those transferring between Houston-Intercontinental and downtown, shared shuttle buses are an excellent option. If you book a return trip, you’ll save a few dollars at $44 roundtrip. 

SuperShuttle provides door-to-door service for about $23 one-way.  This is a pre-tip total. 

It is recommended to make reservations in advance, but tickets are also available at the baggage claim counter.

William P. Hobby Airport 

WebsiteWilliam P. Hobby Airport 
Address7800 Airport Blvd, Houston, TX 77061 USA 


  • Seven miles from downtown Houston 
  • Generous baggage policy 
  • Competitive airline fares


  • Small airline selection
  • Limited international flights 

HOU Airlines 

Airlines at HOU

  • Allegiant
  • American Airlines
  • Delta
  • Southwest
  • Frontier

Facilities & Services

Some services and facilities you can expect to find at HOU are: 

  • ATMS 
  • Service animal relief 
  • Telephones
  • Chapel
  • Mobile charging 
  • Vending machines
  • Shoe shine
  • Mailsafe express 
  • Library 
  • Free Wifi

Transportation from HOU 

As Houston Hobby is just 7 miles southeast of the city, it is the best area airport for travelers heading downtown or south to the Gulf Coast. Due to its smaller size, arriving passengers should have an easier time flagging down taxis and rideshares. 

The trip from HOU to downtown landmarks like Minute Maid Park and the convention center should take around 20 minutes, and costs about half as much as the trip from IAH.

Houston’s METRO Bus number 40 will get you from the airport to downtown for pocket change, which you will need because payment onboard is by cash only. 

A METRO Q reloadable card can be purchased at various locations around the city and can be used on the bus.

Despite being the cheapest option, this method is the most time-consuming depending on the number of stops made and traffic conditions.

One-way Lyft or Uber rides between Hobby and downtown range from $16 to $18 for tech-savvy travelers. Taxis to the city center should cost around $30, including the HOU $1.25 departure fee.

For an average trip to town, you can expect to spend about 20 minutes in the back seat. There is no tip included in the average prices.

In terms of price, SuperShuttle’s prices from HOU are the same as those from IAH, so you get little value for your money. Shuttles aren’t as budget-friendly and convenient as your other options since rideshare apps and taxis are roughly the same price or cheaper. 

Conclusion: Which airport in Houston is better? 

Houston’s airports, William P. Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport serve different purposes and are both necessary in Houston. 

Generally, Hobby Airport (HOU) is the most conveniently located airport. Moreover, those arriving at HOU will pay about half the price of transfers to downtown than those arriving at IAH. 

Those planning to travel south of the city will find Hobby’s location convenient. The Hobby Airport (HOU) sits 11 miles away from Houston’s bustling downtown and is much smaller compared to Bush International. 

With Southwest Airlines as its hub, Hobby Airport is your best choice for domestic flights, and it’s much quicker and more convenient to get to and from.

However, for travelers who prefer airports with a variety of airlines and international travel, George Bush Intercontinental Airport is more tailored to their travel needs.

It may be more like a maze to get from one terminal to the next, but the vast range of destinations offered at George Bush Intercontinental Airport make up for the longer walkway time. 

So, the next time you’re planning a trip to or out of Houston keep in mind that although there are two airports in Houston, both offer different airlines, services, etc. 

Ultimately, choosing whether to fly from George Bush Intercontinental Airport or William P. Hobby Airport depends on your destination and preference. 

Houston Airport FAQs

How early should I arrive at the airports in Houston? 

A two-hour window before the scheduled departure time should be allowed for you to arrive.  At least, arrive a minimum of 60 minutes before departure. 

Remember it is necessary to have a valid boarding pass and all baggage received by the airline before the cut-off times. So make sure to include those things in your window of time. 

How long does it take to get through airport security at Houston IAH and HOU? 

If going through security at HOU and IAH airports, expect to wait at least an average of thirty minutes to go through all the checkpoints. 

Of course, this also depends on the amount of people in line. The fewer people, the faster the line goes. 

Can I walk between the terminals at IAH? 

Some terminals are walkable in IAH, whereas others are not. There are five terminals at IAH that are connected via subway train services and the Skyway. 

Because Terminal A is separated from the rest of the terminals at IAH, it is not accessible by any walkway. However, the other terminals are all connected by walkways. 

At IAH, do I have to go through security again if catching a connecting flight in Houston? 

Yes. TSA Security Recheck must be completed by all international passengers before they are allowed to board their onward flight (after immigration & customs and baggage rechecks).

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