Busy holiday travel day in Houston

December 22, 2011 3:22:37 PM PST
The holiday travel rush has begun and it won't slow down until after the Christmas weekend. For those of you who may be flying over the next couple days, weather in other parts of the country could disrupt your travel plans.

Airline workers say Thursday was the first major travel day for this holiday period. At Hobby Airport a long line of cars could be seen waiting to drop people off and pick people up. And that's just a little of the business we saw.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, more than 2.1 million people are expected to fly in and out of Houston area airports between now and January 2.

"I checked in like 24 hours early, thinking that we might get bumped. I was worried," said traveler Phillip Saxton.

And the thought of crowds flying out to visit families for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's Day isn't the only thing that has some passengers we talked to concerned.

"I just think people are traveling with a lot of stuff, and trying to fit gifts in bags, or bring gifts back, so it's just extra stuff," said traveler Laura Kaplan.

Remember, any gifts you're taking with you need to be unwrapped for screening. Surprisingly, most passengers we talked to say things seem to be pretty smooth out of Bush Intercontinental and Hobby. Airline staff told us extra workers were brought in to help deal with the holiday flow.

"It was good. We just checked in same as normal. Nothing too crazy that kept us longer," said traveler Robbie Kubiak.

We checked with the airlines and the FAA and it appears the major delays travelers are experiencing right now are with flights out of Denver due to the storm, along with several late arrivals out of New Jersey.

Speaking of delays, AAA estimates about 6.9 million people will be driving on Texas roads to visit loved ones. So, expect some back-ups.

For those of you who may be concerned about parking at the airport, we did some checking for you. There is still parking available at the airports, but some of the private vendor lots are filling up quickly.

To better help you plan your trip, check out our holiday travel guide here.

Earlier Thursday

It was a very soggy start to the holiday travel rush. At least 7.5 million Texans are traveling over the next 11 days.

We checked the crowds at Hobby and Bush Airports and while it was busy with bustle of the holiday season, everything appeared to be moving smoothly.

"Toys, baby gifts," said passenger Kelly Owen.

With an oversized duffle bag full of Christmas presents, the Owen family is heading home for the holidays. They are among thousands of passengers who will board planes at Houston airports today.

"Myself, my husband, our nine-month-old Grayson, my sister-in-law Kendall," said Owen.

Tens of thousands of people will fly out of Hobby Airport. Not to mention thousands more at the big airport, as today starts the busiest travel days of the year.

"This is the first time I have flown during Christmas," said traveler Kathy Gibson. "It's an experience."

"We are traveling with a baby for the first time and it's been good," said passenger Jay Barnett.

With rainy conditions in the south and snow and ice causing problems in the north, some travelers are feeling the affects from delays. For passengers like Barnett, its the longer lines that have caused a slight setback.

"I got here and hour early and I missed my flight and now I'm on standby," said Barnett.

Airport officials say passengers should brace themselves for crowded airports and advise against wrapping gifts before going through checkpoints.

Airport officials are still advising travelers to get there early. And here's something to keep in mind if you're headed to Hobby. The roadway leading to the airport's ticketing level is under construction. Traffic is being diverted to the parking garage.

The Houston Airport System expects to see more than 2.1 million passengers going through Bush Airport during the holiday season. The busiest days there are Thursday and Friday. At Hobby Airport, nearly 280,000 passengers are expected to fly out and the busiest days there are expected to be today, Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

For all your holiday travel needs, make sure to check our holiday travel guide. You'll find the latest status on flights, road conditions, weather anywhere and more.


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