Hobby Airport terminal expansion nearly completed

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Two years ago, construction started on Southwest Airlines' first international terminal, and it happens to be right at Hobby Airport.

Construction over the past couple of years, though, caused some traffic chaos for passengers.

"I've been flying Southwest back and forth through Hobby for the past 30 years," says Alfreda Norman. She admits, she doesn't exactly fly through the ticketing process, but today, when she checked into her flight, she was pleasantly surprised by the new Southwest Airlines ticketing lobby at Hobby.

"It's streamline. It's efficient," she adds.

"We're starting the drumbeat - a six week countdown to international service at Houston Hobby. This is the first piece of that," explains Brad Hawkins, a Senior Advisor for Southwest Airlines.

Besides several spots for full-service check-in, ticketing kiosks allow passengers to check in and tag their own bags, which will make getting to security faster.

This is part of the new Southwest Airlines International Concourse that opens in six weeks. "That's five new gates, and for us that's going to be eight new destinations where bags fly free, no change fees and lower fares for Houstonians," adds Hawkins.

Southwest Airlines partnered with the City of Houston to make these expansions happen. The city put in $100 million to improve parking, the roadways, and traffic flow.

At departures, there's now an extra drop-off lane. "It's twice as much space, so you're going to have a whole lot less of an issue trying to drop someone off in the morning," explains Public Information Officer Bill Begley.

He continues, "One of our goals of our highway project was making sure picking up passengers was a whole lot easier." Now, you'll find three separate pick-up areas for taxis, shuttles, and regular car traffic.

Finally, a new pedestrian bridge will connect to a new garage.

"There are 3,000 spots there, which almost doubles the parking here at Hobby," says Begley.

And for those of us wondering when the Hobby traffic headache will finally come to an end, Begley says, "Hopefully, by the first of October, all of this construction will be finalized."

The garage won't be complete until before the holidays, but expect the new international concourse to open in the first part of October, and international flights leave out of Hobby starting October 15th.
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