Houston travelers navigate airline, rental car challenges

ByCharlie Haldeman KTRK logo
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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While renting a car in many parts of the country, including Houston, remains a challenge, air travel has been mostly smooth here. Some travelers are hitting the rails though.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Whether it's business or pleasure, getting from point-A to point-B can be a game of hurry up and wait.

While the rental car challenges appear to remain an issue wherever you are, air travel in Houston remained largely isolated from the nationwide reports of delays and other troubles.

"It was pretty easy," said Erica Vazquez, who flew into Houston with family. "We flew out of Chicago. It wasn't too busy. A nice easy flight."

RELATED: American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights, cites labor shortages

Houston has largely escaped the troubles experienced by American Airlines this week.

Airline representatives said Monday a fraction of their scheduled flights have been adjusted through mid-July, but the cancelations and delays at IAH were not related to the ongoing issues.

"I'll point out that the schedule change represents a 1% reduction in flying spread across our system," a spokesperson said in a statement to ABC13. "Locally, for IAH, there are zero associated cancellations today."

As for Vazquez and her crew, they flew into Houston on a packed Spirit Airlines flight. They hitched a ride from Bush Intercontinental Airport with her daughter. No rental car was needed.

For others that do need a car, there's still trouble.

The travel website thepointsguy.com calls what's happening "the car rental apocalypse," and for good reason.

"There are multiple cities and destinations across the country that have absolutely no available cars for rent for most of the summer," thepointsguy's director of travel content, Summer Hull, wrote.

SEE ALSO: Car rental shortage affecting summer travel plans and budgets

There's another option to go the distance -- You can trade the rubber wheels and the confinement of a plane for the steel wheels of a train.

It's cheaper than airfare, but you won't want to be in a hurry.

"It takes longer than a plane, but it takes about the same as a bus," traveler Vatrina Faudree said. "But you have so much more room. You can prop your feet up and lay your seat back. The seats are about as big as first-class on a plane."

Faudree visited Houston for her son's high school graduation and was headed back home to upstate New York. She was one of a dozen passengers at Houston's Amtrak station late Monday morning, but there was no train to catch.

She and others boarded a bus bound for Longview, Texas, three-and-a-half hours away. That's where they'll climb aboard the Texas Eagle train.

The Texas Eagle will take Faudree to Chicago. From there, she'll be bound for Schenectady, New York, and hopes to arrive late Wednesday.

Tim and Rebecca Barnes were waiting for the Amtrak bus as they began a trip from Houston to Saint Louis.

"It's more relaxing," Rebecca Barnes said.

"The seats are comfortable. We just love riding on a train," Tim Barnes said.

Whether it's planes, trains or automobiles, as the nation's demand for travel-related services surges, you still need more than your luggage.

You'll need patience and time.