HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Travelers grew frustrated with traffic congestion at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport Memorial Day weekend, with one calling it "not acceptable."
Construction on a new world-class terminal has shut down much of terminal E and caused backups of drivers both trying to pick up and drop off passengers.
A photo posted to Twitter by a traveler over the holiday weekend showed people walking with their suitcases in the street.
The Houston Airport System says travel is picking back up since the start of the pandemic. Air travel at Bush Airport was predicted to be only 6% lower than the holiday weekend pre-pandemic in 2019.
Jessica Narvaez, who lives in Houston, said she has started arriving to the airport four hours ahead of her departure time.
"It feels like it takes forever," Narvaez said. "It takes like two or three hours to get through."
Augusto Bernal, a spokesperson for the airport system, strongly urged travelers to show up an hour before they planned to.
"That is going to save a lot of issues and help the passengers get comfortably to their gate," Bernal said.
The airlines have been alerting passengers about the delays and the airport system has a message posted to their website about delays.
Jimmy and Tammy Sciarillo, who live in the Spring area, said they heard about the delays from friends on social media and from United.
"Get here early," Tammy said. "There's a lot of traffic. Expect delays. Go with your patience."
For their trip to a family wedding in Florida this past weekend, they did not have any issues getting through the airport.
"We flew out last week and we came extra early because we had heard the stories," Jimmy said. "We sailed through."
Bernal said they see the most congestion during peak hours from Thursday to Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The airport is working on options to hopefully alleviate some of the traffic burden.
"In early June, we will see some relief at South Terminal Road curbside for terminal E," Bernal said. "We are going to remove the ADA shuttles because the elevators will open. That's going to open up space for an additional lane on that curb front."
Bernal said they are constantly analyzing different ways to improve traffic flow, but right now it is a matter of "real estate and space in the road."
To build the new terminal, the parking garage for terminals D/E was torn down last summer. Available parking can be tough to come by during peak travel periods.
"The biggest recommendation is to secure your parking spot online," Bernal said. "You can go online and reserve your spot so you don't have to drive around looking for a parking space."
Construction on the new terminal is set to wrap up in 2024. Until then, expect congestion.
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