Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport


Transferring flights in Houston International Airport; because I booked flights through another carrier, I couldn't just visit the United Airlines customer service desk to make the required change to my itinerary. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Transferring flights in Houston International Airport is a breeze. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders


A major hub for United Airlines, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport serves cruisers as the gateway to Houston and Galveston, Texas, as well as being a likely connection point for cruisers travelling further afar.

In addition to being one of the largest “hubs” for people travelling domestically within the United States, Houston also acts as a jumping-off point for connections to destinations abroad, with numerous direct flights to European cities like Frankfurt, Paris and Moscow.

Houston also serves as a gateway for flights to South America, with service to Rio, Lima, and Quito, making it a likely transition point for anyone bound for the Galapagos Islands.


Houston Intercontinental's Terminal E is utilised by United Airlines. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Houston Intercontinental’s Terminal E is utilised by United Airlines. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Houston has five distinct passenger terminals, designated A through E. Each is connected via an elevated people-mover system located within security, allowing you to change terminals without leaving the secure area.

  • Terminal A: American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Air Canada are the primary tenants in Terminal A, which boasts 20 gates.
  • Terminal B is the sole domain of United Express flights. If you’re connecting from a United flight – or another Star Alliance affiliate – chances are good you’ll be headed to Terminal B.
  • Terminal C is used for the vast majority of United Airlines’ mainline domestic flights. United Express flights operated by Skywest Airlines, Shuttle America and Trans States Airlines also depart from here.
  • Terminal D is utilised primarily for non-United international flights. British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines are a few of the tenants here.
  • Terminal E is the newest terminal at Houston Intercontinental, and is solely used by United Airlines for international and some domestic flights, including flights to Canada. The terminal first opened in 2002 and a second phase opened the following year. It is characterized by its high ceilings, numerous windows and sprawling floor-plan.


Connections at Houston Intercontinental, particularly when traveling from one United Airlines flight to another, are easily accomplished. However, long distances between terminals can pose an issue for those with mobility difficulties. During my four times passing through the airport with less than 60 minutes connection time, I was able to still stop and grab a coffee and a bite to eat when transiting from Terminal C to Terminal E.

Because of its ease-of-use (and friendly staff), Houston Intercontinental is one of my favorite airports in the United States to transit through.


Success! Returning to Vancouver. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Delayed flight? No Problem: IAH has plenty of service counters close by. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

  • United Service Counters are ample and numerous in Terminal E. If you have the unfortunate luck of being on a delayed or cancelled flight, service counters are never far from reach, and rarely have lines longer than you might expect.
  • Better food options for those who hate the ubiquitous Burger King locations that seem to be part-and-parcel of every United States airport. Terminal E, in particular, has a wide assortment of ethic food choices, sandwiches, soups and, yes, hamburgers – but only if you want one!
  • Friendly Texas Charm. Everyone here is almost helpful and kind to a fault. It’s super-refreshing!


  • Nothing. As far as airports go, a journey through Houston Intercontinental is usually a very pleasant experience.


  • To Houston: bus and taxi service is readily available. Just grab your luggage and go!
  • To Galveston: you’re definitely going to want to purchase the cruise line’s transfers from IAH to the pier, if applicable. If you really feel like doing it yourself, though, you can rent a car from Enterprise (the only rental agency in Galveston) and drive yourself to the pier, or arrange shared-shuttle transportation. The average driving time to Galveston is about 90 minutes, so be sure to keep that in mind when booking flights to or from your cruise.




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