George Bush Intercontinental Airport

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IATA: IAH, ICAO: KIAH, FAA LID: IAH)[5] is an international airport in Houston, Texas, United States, under class B airspace, serving the Greater Houston metropolitan area. Located about 23 miles (37 km) north of Downtown Houston,[5] between Interstate 45 and Interstate 69/U.S. Highway 59 with direct access to the Hardy Toll Road expressway, George Bush Intercontinental Airport has scheduled flights to a large number of domestic destinations, and is the second busiest airport in Texas. The airport, originally named "Houston Intercontinental Airport", was later renamed after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States in 1997.[6]

George Bush Intercontinental Airport
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity of Houston
OperatorHouston Airport System
ServesGreater Houston
LocationHouston, Texas, U.S.
Hub for


Focus city forCargo
Elevation AMSL97 ft / 30 m
Coordinates29°59′04″N 095°20′29″W / 29.98444°N 95.34139°W / 29.98444; -95.34139Coordinates: 29°59′04″N 095°20′29″W / 29.98444°N 95.34139°W / 29.98444; -95.34139
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
IAH is located in Texas
Location of airport in Texas
IAH is located in the United States
IAH (the United States)
IAH is located in North America
IAH (North America)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
15L/33R 12,001 3,658 Concrete
15R/33L 10,000 3,048 Concrete
9/27 10,000 3,048 Concrete
8L/26R 9,000 2,743 Concrete
8R/26L 9,402 2,866 Concrete
Statistics (2019)
Passengers45,264,059 [2]
Aircraft operations478,070
Sources:[3] and Federal Aviation Administration[4]

In 2019, the airport served 45,264,059 passengers, making it the 47th busiest airport in the world, and the 14th busiest airport in the United States. IAH covers 10,000 acres (40.5 km2.) of land and has five runways.[4]

Houston Intercontinental is the second largest passenger hub for United Airlines behind Chicago–O'Hare. Under operations as United Express, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airways, and SkyWest Airlines operate hub operations from IAH. It served as a hub for Houston-based Texas International Airlines and commuter air carrier Metro Airlines, which was also based in the Houston area and started its first flights when Intercontinental opened in 1969. The airport also serves as a hub for Atlas Air, which hosts a crew base, maintenance, and cargo logistics.

IAH became the first airport in North America to have nonstop flights to every inhabited continent in 2017, with the addition of Air New Zealand, but lost this claim when Atlas Air ended their nonstop flight to Luanda. The airport regained this title in December 2019 when Ethiopian Airlines launched service to Lomé in Togo and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.[7]


George Bush Intercontinental Airport's air traffic control tower
George Bush
Intercontinental Airport
Terminal A
Parking Area 2
garage open;
station closed
Terminal B
Maintenance facility
Houston Airport Marriott
Terminal C
Terminal D/
Terminal E


A group of Houston businessmen purchased the site for Bush Intercontinental Airport in 1957 to preserve it until the city of Houston could formulate a plan for a new airport as a replacement for William P. Hobby Airport (at the time known as Houston International Airport). The holding company for the land was named the Jet Era Ranch Corporation, but a typographical error transformed the words "Jet Era" into "Jetero" and the airport site subsequently became known as the Jetero airport site. Although the name Jetero was no longer used in official planning documents after 1961, the airport's eastern entrance was named Jetero Boulevard. Most of Jetero Boulevard was later renamed Will Clayton Parkway.

The City of Houston annexed the Intercontinental Airport area in 1965. This annexation, along with the 1965 annexations of the Bayport area, the Fondren Road area, and an area west of Sharpstown, resulted in a gain of 51,251 acres (20,741 ha) of land for the city limits.[8]

Houston Intercontinental Airport, which was the original name for the airport, opened in June 1969.[6] The airport's IATA code of IAH derived from the stylization of the airport's name as "Intercontinental Airport of Houston."[9][10] All scheduled passenger airline service formerly operated from William P. Hobby Airport moved to Intercontinental upon the airport's completion. Hobby remained open as a general aviation airport and was once again used for scheduled passenger airline jet service two years later when Southwest Airlines initiated intrastate airline service nonstop between Hobby and Dallas Love Field in 1971.[11]

Houston Intercontinental had been scheduled to open in 1967, but design changes regarding the terminals created cost overruns and construction delays. The prime contractor, R.F. Ball Construction of San Antonio, sued the city of Houston for $11 million in damages, but assistant city attorney Joseph Guy Rollins, Jr. defended the municipality on appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.[12]

In the late 1980s, Houston City Council considered a plan to rename the airport after Mickey Leland—an African-American U.S. Congressman who died in an aviation accident in Ethiopia. Instead of renaming the whole airport, the city named Mickey Leland International Arrivals Building, which would later become Mickey Leland Terminal D, after the congressman. In April 1997, Houston City Council unanimously voted to rename the airport George Bush Intercontinental Airport/Houston, after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States.[6][13] The name change took effect on May 2, 1997.[14]

On August 28, 1990, Continental Airlines agreed to build its maintenance center at George Bush Intercontinental Airport; Continental agreed to do so because the city of Houston agreed to provide city-owned land near the airport.[15]

As of 2007, Terminals A and B remain from the airport's original design. Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal C opened in 1981, the Mickey Leland International Arrivals Building (now called Terminal D) opened in May 1990, and the new Terminal E partially opened on June 3, 2003. The rest of Terminal E opened on January 7, 2004. Terminal D is the arrival point for all international flights except for United flights, which use Terminal E. Flights from Canada on Air Canada and WestJet arrive in terminal A. Terminal D also held customs and INS until the opening of the new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) building, completed on January 25, 2005.[16]

Historical airline service: opening of Intercontinental in 1969 to the early 1980sEdit

At the time of the opening of IAH in 1969, domestic scheduled passenger airline flights were being operated by American Airlines, Braniff International Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, National Airlines and Houston-based Texas International Airlines which had formerly operated as Trans-Texas Airways.[17] International flights at this time were being flown by Pan American World Airways with ten nonstop flights a week operated with Boeing 707 jetliners to Mexico City; KLM Royal Dutch Airlines operating Douglas DC-8 jets four days a week to Amsterdam via an intermediate stop in Montreal; Braniff International with Boeing 727 services several times a week to Panama City, Panama; and Aeronaves de Mexico (now Aeroméxico) flying Douglas DC-9 jets to Monterrey, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Mexico City several days a week.[18][19][20][21] Texas International was also operating direct services to Mexico at this time with Douglas DC-9 jets to Monterrey and Convair 600 turboprop flights to Tampico and Veracruz.[22] KLM introduced Boeing 747 services in 1971 and by 1974 Air France was operating four nonstop Boeing 747 flights a week to both Paris and Mexico City.[23][24] Also in 1974, Continental, Pan Am, and National were operating McDonnell Douglas DC-10 wide body jetliners into IAH while Delta was flying Lockheed L-1011 TriStar wide body jets with both types being operated on respective domestic routes from the airport by these airlines; with National also operating Boeing 747s on a Miami-Houston-Los Angeles routing.[25]

By the late 1970s, Cayman Airways had begun nonstop flights between Grand Cayman in the Caribbean and Intercontinental with BAC One-Eleven jets.[26] Cayman Airways served the airport for many years, operating a variety of aircraft including Boeing 727-200, Boeing 737-200, Boeing 737-300, Boeing 737-400 and Douglas DC-8 jetliners into IAH in addition to the BAC One-Eleven.[27] In 1977, British Caledonian, commenced non-stop flights between London's Gatwick Airport and Houston with Boeing 707 service, and later with DC-10 and Boeing 747-200 service.[28] British Airways continued operating the route, when in December 1987, BA took over B-Cal increasing its frequency on the route to double-daily.

By July 1983, the number of domestic and international air carriers serving Intercontinental had grown substantially. American, Continental, Delta and Eastern had been joined by Piedmont Airlines, Southwest Airlines, TWA, United Airlines, USAir and Western Airlines.[29] Western was operating daily McDonnell Douglas DC-10 wide body jet services nonstop to Salt Lake City at this time, with this flight also offering one-stop services to Anchorage, Alaska.[30] International services were being operated by Air Canada, Aviateca, British Caledonian Airways, Continental Airlines, Eastern Air Lines, SAHSA, South African Airways, TACA, TWA and VIASA in addition to Pan Am, KLM, Air France, Aeroméxico and Cayman Airways.[31] Several commuter and regional airlines were also operating passenger services at this time from IAH including Emerald Air (operating as Pan Am Express), Metro Airlines, Rio Airways and Royale Airlines.[29] Metro Airlines was operating "cross-town" shuttle services with de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprops with up to seventeen round trip flights a day between IAH and the Clear Lake City STOLport located near the NASA Johnson Space Center and also up to nine round trip flights a day between the airport and Sugar Land Regional Airport as well as other flights to regional destinations in Texas and Louisiana.[29] In addition, at this same time the airport had scheduled helicopter airline services operated by Executive Helicopters with Bell 206L LongRanger helicopters to four Houston-area heliports with up to 36 round trip flights a day.[29]

Recent airline and airport developments: 2000 to the present dayEdit

As Houston was not an approved gateway for USA-London Heathrow flights under the Bermuda II Agreement, Continental Airlines and British Airways flew their London services to Gatwick Airport. British Airways, keen to allow its passengers access to connections at its larger Heathrow Airport hub, subsequently flew various routing from Houston to Heathrow, via a gateway approved technical stop, allowing its Houston originating flights to land at Heathrow. While keeping a daily Houston-Gatwick flight, BA, for its second daily departure to London operated Houston-Washington Dulles International Airport-London Heathrow, switching the technical stop to O'Hare International Airport and finally to Detroit Metropolitan Airport. In March 2008, the Bermuda II agreement was replaced with the EU-US Open Skies Agreement, allowing Continental Airlines and British Airways to switch its London services from Houston to Heathrow Airport that summer.[32] Currently, BA operates double-daily flights to London's Heathrow Airport with a Boeing 777, Boeing 747, and Boeing 787 service.[33]

Other airlines that served Houston Intercontinental were Aviacsa,[34] America West Airlines,[35] Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Canadian Airlines, China Airlines, Comair, Grand Airways, Gulf Air, Korean Air, Martinair, Northwest Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, PrivatAir (operating on behalf of KLM)[36] and later SAS, Royal Jordanian (then called ALIA), SeaPort Airlines,[37] South African Airways,[38] Southwest Airlines, UltrAir and World Airways.

IAH runway 33L and 33R
A typical lineup at Terminal D showing Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways and KLM aircraft

On January 7, 2009, a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-800 departing Bush Intercontinental was the first U.S. commercial jet to fly on a mix of conventional jet fuel and biofuel.[39][40]

In December 2009, the Houston City Council approved a plan to allow Midway Cos. to develop 10 acres (4.0 ha) of land owned by Houston Airport System (HAS) on the grounds of Bush Airport. Midway planned to develop a travel center for the airport's rental car facility. The city dictated the developer needed to place a convenience store and gas station facility, a flight information board, a fast casual restaurant, and a sit-down restaurant in the development. Beyond the required buildings, the developer planned to add an office facility of between 20,000 and 40,000 square feet (1,900 and 3,700 m2) and additional retail space.[41]

In 2011, Continental Airlines began Boeing 777-200ER services to Lagos, Nigeria; this was the airport's first non-stop flight to the African continent. In May 2016, United Airlines ended the Houston-Lagos service citing the inability to repatriate revenue sold locally in Nigerian currency.[42] South African Airways previously operated non-stop Boeing 747SP services in 1983 between Houston and Amilcar Cabral International Airport in the Cape Verde islands off the coast of Africa as a refueling stop for its flights between Houston and Johannesburg, South Africa.[43][44] Continental was also planning to commence non-stop Boeing 787 services to Auckland in New Zealand but these plans were cancelled as a reaction to new international flights at Hobby Airport announced by Southwest Airlines.[45] United Airlines — which acquired Continental and had fully integrated it into the United brand by early 2012 — had postponed the introduction of this service owing to delays associated with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.[46] Its 787s were put to use on other international routes, however, including Houston-London and United's then new Houston-Lagos non-stop flights. The Houston-Auckland non-stop route was then begun by Air New Zealand using a Boeing 777-200ER. In 2014, United Airlines added a second daily flight to Tokyo and new routes to Munich, Germany; Santiago, Chile; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and it restarted the Aruba route, which had been canceled in 2012.

Houston became the sixth U.S. city to have Airbus A380 services when Lufthansa transitioned its Houston-Frankfurt route from a Boeing 747-400 to an A380 on August 1, 2012.[47]

On July 11, 2013, Air China began non-stop flights from Houston to Beijing–Capital using a Boeing 777-300ER. This became the airport's first non-stop route to mainland China.[48]

Houston gained non-stop flights to Turkey when Turkish Airlines launched services to Istanbul–Atatürk on April 1, 2013. In April 2019, the airline moved its Istanbul hub to the new Istanbul Airport whilst keeping its Houston service.[49]

Korean Air commenced non-stop flights from Seoul–Incheon to Houston on May 2, 2014.[50] Service was terminated in October 2017 in response to its Star Alliance Asian airlines codesharing out of Terminal D.

On March 31, 2014, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) announced it would begin non-stop flights between Stavanger, Norway and Houston. This was the first time the airline had opened a route from one of its non-hub cities. The service was flown with a Boeing BBJ operated by PrivatAir. The aircraft operated in SAS colors in a 44-seat all business class configuration. SAS ended this service on October 24, 2015.

On April 24, 2014, Spirit Airlines announced new services from Houston to six new domestic destinations, including Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Kansas City, New Orleans and San Diego. In addition, Spirit added seasonal services between Houston and Minneapolis. These new flights brought its total destinations from Houston to 12 locations, making Spirit the second largest domestic airline by destinations at Houston's IAH, behind United Airlines. During September 2014, Spirit sought approval from the US Department of Transportation (DoT) to launch flights from Houston Intercontinental to Managua, San José, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Cancún, San José del Cabo and Toluca. With the addition of the above-mentioned routes, Spirit Airlines has increased Houston Intercontinental Airport's placement from the ninth largest focus city to the fifth largest focus city based upon the number of flights flown per week.[51] Spirit Airlines experienced growth of 123% in weekly flight departures at Houston Intercontinental from August 2014 to August 2015. In late 2016, Spirit dropped San Jose, Managua and San Salvador having dropped Toluca the spring before. Spirit has reallocated those flights with new routes to Seattle, Newark and Pittsburgh.

In 2014, Taiwan-based carrier EVA Air announced it would launch non-stop flights from Houston to Taipei on June 19, 2015. This began with three flights a week on the 777-300ER. The frequency was increased to four times a week starting July 1, 2015, and to six times a week starting March 28, 2016.[52] EVA Air has made these flights daily since the end of 2016. This marks the first time non-stop flights are being operated between Taipei and any airport in Texas.

In addition, All Nippon Airways announced new 2015 services from Narita International Airport. Flights on the 777-300ER began on June 12, 2015, with ANA becoming the first Japan-based carrier to operate passenger flights into IAH.

On June 19, 2014, Emirates announced it would become the second operator of the Airbus A380 at Bush, upgrading its service from Dubai to Houston from a Boeing 777 to the Airbus A380. Service began on December 3, 2014. On July 1, 2016, the A380 had been temporarily removed from the Houston route. It was the first time the A380 had been removed from a US route. Airbus A380 service resumed on June 1, 2018. Since then, Emirates has been on and off with Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 service.[53]

On September 17, 2014, Frontier Airlines announced it would begin to base aircraft from Bush, for its new Phoenix–Sky Harbor and San Francisco services, with the possibility of more destinations from Houston to come in the future.

On July 16, 2015, the new Eastern Air Lines announced it would begin a weekly service to Havana from Houston, in cooperation with HavanaAir Charters utilizing Boeing 737-800 aircraft, beginning on August 12, 2015. The service was announced to have been delayed as of August 11, 2015, with no announcement of a new date (the revived company was dissolved in November 2017).[54]

On December 15, 2015, Air New Zealand began non-stop flights from Auckland to Houston with Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.[55]

On October 30, 2016, Singapore Airlines began the Singapore - Manchester - Houston route, replacing Moscow as the flights' stopover, with a Boeing 777-300ER. On January 17, 2017, Singapore Airlines replaced the Boeing 777-300ER with the new Airbus A350-900. [56]

In 2016, China Eastern Airlines expressed interest in operating a direct non-stop flight between Shanghai–Pudong, China's largest business center, and Houston. This flight would be the airport's second non-stop to China and the fifth non-stop to Asia. The route would be flown by the Boeing 777-300ER, China Eastern's only aircraft capable of the flight. Additionally, the flight would surpass the airline's New York City and Toronto–Pearson services as the longest in the China Eastern system.[57] However, all of the weekly U.S-China flight slots for China Eastern Airlines were taken, and because the airline didn't want to trim some of its other U.S-China weekly routes, no flight between Houston and Shanghai had ever taken place yet.[58]

In 2017, Philippine Airlines announced that they are in the final planning stage for their route expansions to the US with flights between Manila and Houston via Vancouver. The airline is waiting until it can get final regulatory approval from the US DOT before they can make an official announcement for the route.[59]

On September 7, 2017, United Airlines announced their new route from Houston to Sydney with the 787-9 Dreamliner. The Houston-Sydney service, at 8,596 miles (13,834 km), is currently United's longest nonstop route. Additionally, it surpassed Emirates' Dubai route as the longest flight at IAH.[60]

In November 2017, Air China announced plans to fly direct between Beijing–Capital and Panama City via Houston following a change in relations between China and Panama. The flight is a fifth freedom route, so Air China may transport passengers between Houston and Panama City without originating or terminating in Beijing. The twice weekly flight began on April 5, 2018.[61]

In December 2018, Volga-Dnepr Airlines announced a new base in Houston for its Antonov 124 aircraft. In addition to the aircraft base, the airline will provide Houston based crews, technical support teams and special loading equipment for unique cargoes to the Houston facility.[62]

In January 2019, Ethiopian Airlines became the latest international carrier to announce new service, three-times weekly, to Addis Ababa. The route will be Addis Ababa- Lome- Houston, and the airline is replacing its Los Angeles gateway for Houston. The route will be serviced using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and will be the city's only gateway to Africa after service to Lagos, Nigeria was cancelled by United Airlines. Service was supposed to begin in June 2019, but was delayed until December 2019. Service began on December 16, 2019.[7]


IAH main entrance

There are three main entrances into IAH's terminal areas. John F. Kennedy Boulevard is the main north–south artery into the airport and intersects with Greens Road becoming an expressway leading to the terminals (by traveling west on Greens Road, one can access the nearby Greenspoint business and residential district). Will Clayton Parkway, which runs east to west, is another main road for IAH. Interstate 69/U.S. Highway 59 (I-69/US 59) is connected to IAH by Will Clayton Parkway. The Hardy Tollway Connector runs from west to east connecting JFK Boulevard to the Hardy Toll Road.

The airport has five terminals and 130 gates encompassing 250 acres (1.0 km2),[citation needed] with a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) distance from Terminal A to Terminal D.

Two people movers service the airport. The Skyway (formerly TerminaLink) provides airside connections between all five terminals and the International Arrivals Building.[63] The Subway (formerly inter-terminal train) provides landside connections between the five terminals and the airport hotel. This system is based on the WEDway PeopleMover technology developed by Walt Disney Imagineering.[64]

The airport houses an on-site hotel, a Marriott, between Terminals B and C and is accessible via the inter-terminal train which runs every 3 minutes from 3:30am–12:30am everyday. The hotel has 573 rooms, one restaurant and bar, a concierge lounge, a coffee shop, health club, sundry shop and a conference center.[65]

Terminal AEdit

Terminal A

Terminal A serves all non-United domestic and Canadian operations as well as select United Express domestic operations and international departures.

It was one of the original two terminals to open in 1969 and was designed by Goleman & Rolfe and George Pierce-Abel B. Pierce.[66] Like Terminal B, it originally had four circular modules (called "Flight Stations" locally) at the end of corridors radiating out of the corners of the terminal. However, in the late-1990s and early-2000s, the North and South Concourses were rebuilt into linear facilities to provide a smoother operation within the terminal. The project was completed in 2002 and was designed by Gensler.[66] Terminal A has 20 gates, with 10 gates in the North Concourse[67] and 10 gates in the South Concourse.[68]

Terminal BEdit

Terminal B

Terminal B serves most United Express domestic operations and international departures. As of 2017, United Express is the only tenant of Terminal B. It was one of the original two terminals of the airport to open in 1969 and was designed by Goleman & Rolfe and George Pierce-Abel B. Pierce.[66] It is mostly an unaltered terminal from its original design. For this reason, the jet bridges are considerably lower to the ground than most others. The terminal contains 37 gates and 20 hardstand gates.[69]

The terminal underwent minor renovations from 1997 to 2001, designed by Gensler.[66] In 2011 the City of Houston announced it would demolish the gate areas of Terminal B and rebuild them. The architect for the project is Pierce, Goodwin, Alexander & Linville.[70] The first phase of the terminal's renovation broke ground on January 23, 2012.[71] Phase one of the project was completed in April 2013, and the first 15 gates of the new South Concourse became operational on May 21, 2013.[72] The remaining gates were completed in 2014, bringing the number of gates in the South Concourse to 30 (both types).

Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal CEdit

Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal

Terminal C (also known as Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal[73]) serves as United Airlines' main base of domestic operations at IAH, and serves some United Express domestic operations and international departures.

It was the third terminal to be built at the airport, opening in 1981. It was designed by the Houston firm of Airport Architects, a joint venture of Golemon & Rolfe Architects and Pierce and Pierce Architects.[66] Terminal C has 31 gates.[74] The terminal includes the airport's interfaith chapel.[75] The terminal underwent renovations from 2000 to 2005, designed by Gensler.[66] On May 11, 2015, the airport broke ground on the airport's new Terminal C north concourse, which opened in March 2017.[76][77] Designed by PGAL, the $170 million new concourse houses 14 gates, a renovated United Club, and numerous passenger amenities. The former northern concourse was closed pending demolition and incorporation into the forthcoming Terminal D redevelopment. In March 2017 United also opened a Global Reception area for Global Services and Global First check-in which directly connects to the Premier Access/PreCheck security queue.

Mickey Leland Terminal DEdit

Mickey Leland Terminal

Terminal D (known as Mickey Leland Terminal) serves all non-United international operations and some United Express international arrivals.

Opened in 1990 as the International Arrivals Building (IAB) and later renamed the Mickey Leland International Arrivals Building, the US$95 million terminal was designed by Golemon and Rolfe Architects, Pierce Goodwin Alexander, James L. Marshall Associates, and Molina and Associates.[78] The IAB, equipped with a Federal Inspection Facility (FIS) and US Customs services, consolidated all international arrivals into one terminal (until Continental moved its international operations to Terminal E/FIS)

In Terminal D airlines share gates, ticket counters, and terminal equipment, making it a "common use" facility. The Terminal D food court is located in the departures area.[79] In 2007 the airport authority began renovations in which 20 additional common-use ticket counters, upscale retail and restaurant shops, and new on-airport spa/beauty lounge will be added over the next few years.[80] Terminal D has 12 gates and several international lounges, including two separate British Airways Galleries Lounges (First and Club), a KLM Crown Lounge, an Air France Salon Lounge, and an Executive Lounge for Singapore, Emirates, Qatar, and Lufthansa.[81]

On June 18, 2014, Houston City Council unanimously passed a memorandum of agreement establishing plans to demolish the existing Terminal D building and construct a new facility on the same site.[82] Plans call for the terminal to have gates for 15 large wide-body jets, including four Airbus A380 capable gates, as well as a more open design and modern appearance. Re-construction on Terminal D officially began October 18, 2019, starting with the demolition of Old Terminal C North.[83]

Terminal EEdit

Terminal E

Terminal E serves as United Airlines' main base of international operations at IAH, in addition to some United Express international arrivals and some larger mainline domestic operations. (All United international mainline flights arrive at Terminal E while all United Express international flights arrive at Terminals D or E, then depart out of Terminal A, B or C.)

Terminal E is IAH's newest terminal. It was designed by Corgan Associates and Spencer Partnership Architects,[66] and it opened in two phases. The first phase opened in June 2003 with 14 gates, and the second phase added 16 gates in February 2004 for a total of 30 gates.[84] United operates one large, three-floor United Club in Terminal E between Gates E11 and E12. Originally Continental (before merging with United) used the terminal solely for domestic flights, but it relocated international operation to the new terminal after the new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) building opened. The terminal was designed for maximum flexibility, with jetways designed to handle all types of aircraft. It was complete on time and under budget by approximately US$20 million.

Ground transportationEdit

From Downtown Houston one can travel to George Bush Intercontinental by taking Interstate 69/U.S. Route 59 (Eastex Freeway) to Beltway 8 or to Will Clayton Parkway, and access the airport from either road. From Downtown one could also take Interstate 45 (North Freeway), connect to Beltway 8, and enter the airport from the Beltway.[79] The Hardy Toll Road has an exit from the north or south to the airport.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, offers bus services available at the south side of Terminal C. The 102 Bush IAH Express serves the airport. Previously, METRO also operated an express bus service known as Airport Direct, launched in the summer of 2008, which traveled from Downtown Houston to Terminal C via the HOV lane of the Eastex Freeway (I-69)/(US 59).[85][86][87] In 2010, in an effort to increase ridership and maximize revenue, METRO reduced the fare of Airport Direct and closed a dedicated passenger plaza for the service in Downtown Houston; instead, the bus stopped at several downtown hotels.[88] The fare each way was reduced from $15 to $4.50. The fare change increased ridership levels but reduced cash flow. METRO consistently provided the service at an operational loss.[89] However, in the summer of 2011, METRO announced it was discontinuing the Airport Direct service, while the Route 102 local service (which serves the greater Greenspoint business and residential district before traveling on I-45 to access downtown) continued to operate.[90]

As of 2016 the Taiwanese airline EVA Air operates a shuttle bus service from Bush IAH to Richardson in the Dallas-Fort Worth area so Dallas-based customers may fly on its services to and from Houston.[91] Previously China Airlines, also a Taiwanese carrier, provided a shuttle bus service to Sugar Land and the Southwest Houston Chinatown.[92] It ended in 2008 when China Airlines ended its Houston passenger service.[93]

Carriers provide scheduled bus and shuttle services to locations from IAH to NRG Park/NRG Astrodome, Downtown Houston, Uptown, Greenway Plaza, the Texas Medical Center, hotels in the Westchase and Energy Corridor business districts, the city of College Station and William P. Hobby Airport. Super Shuttle uses shared vans to provide services from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the surrounding communities.[85]

Other facilitiesEdit

A VOR station, identified as IAH, is located on the airport property, south of runway 33L.[94]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Aeroméxico Connect Mexico City [95]
Air Canada Toronto–Pearson [96]
Air Canada Express Calgary, Montréal–Trudeau [96]
Air China Beijing–Capital, Panama City [97]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle [98]
Air New Zealand Auckland [99]
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma [100]
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Haneda [101]
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia [102]
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [102]
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador [103]
British Airways London–Heathrow [104]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City [105]
Delta Connection Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul [105]
Emirates Dubai–International [106]
EVA Air Taipei–Taoyuan [107]
Frontier Airlines Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando
Seasonal: Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham
JetBlue Boston, New York–JFK [109]
KLM Amsterdam [110]
Lufthansa Frankfurt [111]
Qatar Airways Doha [112]
Singapore Airlines Manchester (UK), Singapore [113]
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Cancún, Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Guatemala City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Myrtle Beach, Newark, New Orleans, Orlando, San Diego, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Tampa
Seasonal: Oakland, San José del Cabo, Myrtle Beach, Seattle/Tacoma
Turkish Airlines Istanbul [115]
United Airlines Amsterdam, Aruba, Austin, Baltimore, Belize City, Bogotá, Bonaire, Boston, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Calgary, Cancún, Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Cozumel, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Cayman, Guadalajara, Guatemala City, Havana, Honolulu, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Las Vegas, León/Del Bajío, Liberia (Costa Rica), Lima, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Managua, McAllen, Memphis, Mérida, Mexico City, Miami, Midland/Odessa, Montego Bay, Munich, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Panama City, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Port of Spain, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Quito, Raleigh/Durham, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão, Roatán, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San José de Costa Rica, San José del Cabo, San Juan, San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Santiago de Chile, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Sydney, Tampa, Tegucigalpa, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Anchorage, Charleston (SC), Eagle/Vail, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Jackson Hole, Nassau, Omaha, Palm Springs, Providenciales, St. Thomas, Tucson, Tulsa
United Express Abilene, Acapulco, Aguascalientes, Akron/Canton (resumes January 5, 2021),[117] Albuquerque, Alexandria, Amarillo, Atlanta, Austin, Baton Rouge, Birmingham (AL), Boise, Brownsville, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Chihuahua, Cincinnati, Cleveland, College Station, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus–Glenn, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Detroit, El Paso, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Grand Rapids, Greenville/Spartanburg, Guadalajara, Gulfport/Biloxi, Harlingen, Hartford, Hattiesburg/Laurel (MS), Havana, Hobbs, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Jackson (MS), Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Killeen/Fort Hood, Knoxville, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Laredo, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Lubbock, Manzanillo, McAllen, Memphis, Meridian (MS), Midland/Odessa, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile, Monroe, Monterrey, Morelia, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Norfolk, Oaxaca, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Pittsburgh, Puebla, Querétaro, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Richmond, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Jose (CA), San Luis Potosí, Savannah, Shreveport, Springfield/Branson, St. Louis, Tallahassee, Tampico, Toronto–Pearson, Tucson, Tulsa, Veracruz, Victoria (TX), Washington–National, Wichita
Seasonal: Aspen, Bozeman, Durango (CO), Gunnison/Crested Butte, Key West (begins December 17, 2020),[118] Mazatlán, Miami, Montrose, Nassau, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Puerto Vallarta, Rapid City, San José del Cabo, Spokane
VivaAerobus Cancún, Mexico City, Monterrey
Seasonal: Guadalajara
Volaris Guadalajara, Mexico City[120] [121]
WestJet Calgary [122]


Aerologic Frankfurt, Toronto
AirBridgeCargo Airlines Anchorage, Amsterdam, Chicago–O'Hare, Los Angeles, Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Shanghai–Pudong
Air France Cargo Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Mexico City
Amazon Air Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Portland (OR), Riverside
Ameristar Air Cargo Laredo, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Baron Aviation Services College Station
CAL Cargo Airlines Atlanta, Liège [123]
CargoLogicAir Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt, Mexico City [124]
Cargolux Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Guadalajara, Luxembourg, Mexico City, Miami, New York–JFK, Prestwick
Cathay Pacific Cargo Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Miami
China Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Chicago–O'Hare, Miami
DHL Aviation Cincinnati, Huntsville, New Orleans
Emirates SkyCargo Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dubai–Al Maktoum, Mexico City, Zaragoza
FedEx Express El Paso, Fort Worth/Alliance, Indianapolis, Memphis
Kalitta Air Miami
Lufthansa Cargo Frankfurt, Toronto
Martinaire Addison, San Antonio
Qatar Airways Cargo Doha, Liège, Luxembourg City, Macau, Mexico City
Turkish Airlines Cargo Istanbul–Atatürk, Madrid, Miami [125]
UPS Airlines Austin, Chicago/Rockford, Dallas/Forth Worth, Louisville, San Antonio
Seasonal: Ontario


Top destinationsEdit

Busiest Domestic Routes from IAH (September 2019 – August 2020)[126]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Denver, Colorado 525,000 Frontier, Spirit, United
2 Los Angeles, California 473,000 American, Spirit, United
3 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 445,000 American, Spirit, United
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 392,000 American, United
5 Newark, New Jersey 362,000 Spirit, United
6 Atlanta, Georgia 351,000 Delta, Spirit, United
7 Orlando, Florida 329,000 Spirit, United, Frontier
8 Las Vegas, Nevada 313,000 Frontier, Spirit, United
9 San Francisco, California 301,000 United
10 Miami, Florida 240,000 United, American
A United Airlines Boeing 787-8 parked at a Terminal E gate
Busiest International Routes to and from IAH (CY 2018)[127]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Mexico City, Mexico 745,727 Aeroméxico, Interjet, United
2 Cancún, Mexico 672,252 Spirit, United
3 London–Heathrow, United Kingdom 465,458 British Airways, United
4 Frankfurt, Germany 447,927 Lufthansa, United
5 Calgary, Canada 419,339 Air Canada, United, WestJet
6 Monterrey, Mexico 356,220 Aeroméxico, Interjet, United, VivaAerobus
7 Amsterdam, Netherlands 331,920 KLM, United
8 Toronto–Pearson, Canada 309,728 Air Canada, United
9 San Salvador, El Salvador 309,134 Avianca El Salvador, Spirit, United
10 San Jose, Costa Rica 306,939 Spirit, United

Airline market shareEdit

Largest airlines at IAH (CY 2018)[128]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 United Airlines 34,051,840 77.73%
2 American Airlines 2,381,856 5.44%
3 Spirit Airlines 2,352,716 5.37%
4 Delta Airlines 1,531,662 3.50%
5 Air Canada 331,495 0.76%
- Others 3,158,151 7.21%

Annual trafficEdit

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at IAH, 1987–Present[128]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
1987 15,388,667 1997 28,678,153 2007 42,998,040 2017 40,696,216
1988 15,109,521 1998 31,017,804 2008 41,708,580 2018 43,807,539
1989 16,013,660 1999 33,051,248 2009 40,007,354 2019 45,264,059
1990 17,515,813 2000 35,251,372 2010 40,479,569
1991 18,127,395 2001 34,763,443 2011 40,187,442
1992 19,349,310 2002 33,913,759 2012 39,890,756
1993 20,173,941 2003 34,208,170 2013 39,625,358
1994 22,456,792 2004 36,513,098 2014 40,302,345
1995 24,690,166 2005 39,716,583 2015 43,023,224
1996 26,460,192 2006 42,550,432 2016 41,692,372


Flag posts of G7 member countries plus the European Union titled "Light Spikes" located outside the airport entrance

Ed Carpenter's "Light Wings", a multicolored glass sculpture suspended below a skylight, adorns the Terminal A North Concourse.[129] In Terminal A, South Concourse stands Terry Allen's "Countree Music." Allen's piece is a cast bronze tree that plays instrumental music by Joe Ely and David Byrne, though the music is normally turned off. The corridor leading to Terminal A displays Leamon Green's "Passing Through," a 200-foot (61 m) etched glass wall depicting airport travelers.[130]

The elevators in Terminal B are cased in stainless steel accordion shaped structures designed by Rachel Hecker.[131] The corridor leading to Terminal B has Dixie Friend Gay's "Houston Bayou." This work is composed of an 8 ft × 75 ft (2.4 m × 22.9 m) Byzantine glass mosaic mural depicting scenes from Houston's bayous and wetlands, several bronze animals embedded in the floor, and five mosaic columns.

"Lights Spikes" was created for the 1990 G7 Summit when it was hosted by President George H. W. Bush in Houston. The sculpture was relocated to the airport outside E Terminal after the meetings, from its original location in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center. The columns lean at a ten-degree angle toward a central point that represents Houston. The distance between each "spike" and this point is relative to the distance between Houston and the capitals of the countries the flags represent. The countries represented are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Canada, Italy and Germany, as well as the European community.[132] The airport has a display of lighted modern sculptures between terminals C and D.[79]

Master planEdit

The city of Houston presented its master plan update for IAH in 2005.[133] The near-term plan calls for Terminal B's circular flight stations to be rebuilt into linear facilities similar to Terminal A. Construction of a new 155,000-square-foot (14,400 m2) pier at Terminal D, capable of handling six additional wide body aircraft, was slated for completion in 2016.[134]

The long-term plans call for the unit terminals to be demolished and the North and South Concourses to be linked midway. Soon after, the facilities in the North and South Concourses will be linked to form two long continuous facilities. In addition, a new Central Passenger Processing facility will also be built, called the East Terminal, along with an underground people mover.

Airfield improvements include two new runways, 8C-26C and 9R-27L, a perimeter taxiway, and access roadways.[135][136] If the Federal Aviation Administration selects new sites for runways, it may buy land from the Glen Lee Place and Heather Ridge Village subdivisions, which are off of Lee Road.[137]

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • February 1, 1975: a Douglas DC-3 N15HC of Horizon Properties crashed on approach when the port wing collided with an electricity pylon. The aircraft was on a domestic non-scheduled passenger flight from Lawton Municipal Airport, Oklahoma to Huntsville Regional Airport, Texas. Due to weather conditions, the flight was diverted to Houston. Of the 16 occupants,[138] two crew and three passengers were killed.[139]
  • August 23, 1990: a Grumman Gulfstream I operated by Rowan Drilling Company; power loss in an engine after take-off resulted in a failed attempt to regain altitude en route to New Orleans International Airport. The aircraft crashed on departure from Runway 15L and came to rest midfield along a parallel taxiway. There were three fatalities.[140]
  • February 19, 1996: a Continental Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 operating as Continental Airlines Flight 1943 from Ronald Reagan National Airport arriving in Houston, Texas landed with its landing gear in the stowed position on Runway 27. The aircraft slid for 6,915 feet (2,108 m) on its belly before stopping on the runway 140 feet (43 m) left of the runway centerline approximately at the departure end of the runway. There were no fatalities and only minor injuries. The aircraft was written off.[141]
  • January 13, 1998, a Learjet 25 operated by American Corporate Aviation crashed 2 miles (3.2 km) east of IAH descending below the glideslope. Both occupants were killed.[142]
  • February 23, 2019: Atlas Air Flight 3591, a Boeing 767-300ERF operated for Amazon Air crashed into Trinity Bay while on approach, 30 miles (48 km) southeast of the airport. All three crew members were killed.

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External linksEdit