To park or not to park: What to know before you jet off to the airport for holiday travel

HOUSTON – With Thanksgiving just six days away, many people will be traveling Friday to kick off one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

Around 1.7 million people are expected to fly through George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Hobby Airport from Friday through the Monday after Thanksgiving, according to the Houston Airport System.

Despite anticipating longer lines and wait times, many people forget to take parking into consideration. 

Travelers who decide to drive and park at either of the Houston-area airports can expect to spend between $6 and $26 a day. At IAH, the cheapest lot – Ecopark – will run $5.54 a day.

The less expensive lots fill to capacity quickly, leaving travelers circling the airport trying to find affordable parking or forcing them to park in the more expensive lots like the terminal garage, which is $22 a day or the valet, which is $26 a day at IAH.

“So when we get back, we’re getting back pretty late,” said traveler Mohammad Addel-Aziz. “Like midnight or something on Sunday, so it’s just easier to drive. I’m coming all the way out from like Sugarland.”

Bill Begly with the Houston Airport System says people who drive in should be able to find parking.

“Obviously we’d like you to come and park at our terminal garages,” Begly said. “We have more than 27,000 spaces available in the parking garages here at Bush. Almost 7,000 spaces available at Hobby airport. Not to mention all the Ecoparks which are very affordable.”

However, some travelers are opting for ride-sharing apps, taxis or to be dropped off in an effort to avoid the hassle of trying to park. 

“Parking at the airport is way too expensive,” traveler Miriam Muldrow said. “So I got dropped off in Atlanta to come here and I’ll be picked up when I get back from Boston back to Atlanta.”

A Lyft or an Uber from IAH will cost about $57 to or from Katy and about $27 to or from downtown.

“I mean the cost of Uber is just more convenient anyway,” said traveler Woodrow Lawrence. “You don’t have to worry about parking, save a little money, too.”

Something to keep in mind is that both Houston airports have an "active loading" policy, which means that parking is not permitted on ramps or near the terminal in designated loading and unloading areas.

What is cheapest depends on where your destination is for ride sharing and how many days you will be out of town for parking. 

You can go to Fly2Houston.com to check not only your flight times but also make parking reservations ahead of your arrival and check how many spaces are still available.

If you are waiting to pick someone up, cell phone lots are available, which are free of charge and open every day. There are two and IAH and one at Hobby. 

About the Authors: