Historic 2023 | Houston Airports to set one more travel record this year with winter holiday travel

With 3.9 million passengers expected during a 21-day winter holiday period, Houston Airports is ready to celebrate a record-making year. Passengers are encouraged to plan and prepare for more people at the airport beginning mid-December. 

November 29, 2023

On the heels of a record-making Thanksgiving travel period, and on par with a history-making year for the airport system, Houston Airports is preparing to welcome its largest winter holiday travel crowd on record, exceeding the passenger total set in 2019. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) are anticipating a combined 3.9 million travelers, a 6% increase from the same period in 2019 and a 16% increase from 2022.

The winter holiday travel period for Houston Airports begins Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, and ends Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. During the 21 days, Hobby Airport is forecasted to serve approximately 849,000 travelers, while Bush Airport is expected to welcome more than 3 million passengers. 

This year, according to airline seat capacity, the traveling public is beginning their holiday travel before school districts let out for the holidays so they can beat the holiday rush. More than a million passengers will board flights before Harris County school districts or Houston I.S.D. wrap the fall semester.

This year, Friday, Dec. 15, Sunday, Dec. 17, and Monday, Dec. 18, are forecasted to be the single busiest air travel days in Houston. On Dec. 15, Houston’s airports will welcome more than 217,000 passengers. On Dec. 17, Houston’s airports will be ready to greet more than 201,000 passengers, and on Dec. 18, Houston Airports will welcome more than 200,000 passengers. 

For those considering last-minute travel, the best days to beat the crowds and book last-minute flights will be Monday, Dec. 25, and Saturday, Dec. 30. Houston Airports is anticipating 159,000 passengers on Christmas Day and about 154,000 passengers on Dec. 30.

Houston Airports is asking the traveling public to prepare and follow these simple recommendations:


Reserve parking online and arrive at the airport early. Here’s why:

  • More people flying in and out of Houston’s airports means more people will be parking at the airport, checking their luggage, accessing ticketing counters, and going through TSA security screening.
  • More people are also predicted to be on Houston-area roads, which can impact travel times to the airport. 
  • Construction of the new international terminal continues at Bush Airport.


  • Do not park at the curb; you could be towed. 

  • Avoid driving in a loop around the airport while you wait for your passenger; more vehicles on the road will cause traffic congestion.

  • Wait at our cell phone lots until your passenger is ready at the curb.


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