Houston Airports refines international passenger experience with new Ritual Washing and Prayer spaces at Bush Airport

The new facilities inside IAH Terminal D welcome all passengers and provide a quiet and calming space to perform ablution, if needed, before prayer or meditation. 

February 21, 2024

HOUSTON - Houston Airports has opened its first ablution room and prayer room at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Terminal D near Gate D15 and an existing Interfaith Chapel. The calming and welcoming prayer room provides another option for passengers of all faiths and beliefs. Bush Airport is among the first airports in the U.S. to offer an ablution room for passengers.

The ablution room, also known as a Wudu or Tayammum facility, connects to the prayer room and features dedicated entrances easily accessible from the concourse. The ablution room allows passengers to engage in the ritual washing of hands, feet and face before prayer. The ablution room leads into a shared prayer room that can be separated by a partition. 

In a thoughtful response to requests from passengers, the new ablution room was meticulously designed as part of the planned renovation of IAH Terminal D. The new space includes benches, coat racks, space for luggage and is fully ADA-accessible. Both the ablution room and prayer room are finished with calming blue quartz tile and comfortable carpeting, a welcoming invitation for passengers for all faiths to enter and reflect before continuing their international travel. Passengers will find copies of the Quran, prayer rugs, prayer beads and a turbah, used by some during prayer. Airport chaplains are working with Houston mosques on proper measurements for the qibla, the direction towards the Kaaba in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. 

Passengers, including those who fly Qatar, Emirates and Turkish airlines, are guided to the new facilities through strategically placed signage featuring the international symbol for prayer room.

"Houston Airports takes pride in its commitment to lead the world in providing inclusive, and useful amenities that enhance the experience of our international guests. The introduction of the new ablution room and prayer room exemplifies our dedication to ensuring all passengers receive ‘Houston friendly’ hospitality,” said Jim Szczesniak, Interim Director of Aviation for Houston Airports. “Beyond serving our guests, these facilities are also available to all airport employees, embodying our belief in fostering an inclusive and respectful workplace. We strive to create spaces that go beyond functionality, embracing the diverse needs of our global community, and reinforcing Houston Airports as a global 5-Star air service gateway.” 

Kazim Hussain, Airport Business Development Coordinator for Houston Airports, donated the turbahs, prayer beads, and copies of the Quran that is used by some Muslims during prayer. Hussain shared that some airline employees have personally reached out to him to thank Houston Airports for investing in such an inclusive facility. “It makes me proud to know that Houston Airports is actively seeking and incorporating amenities that serve our guests and our team members,” said Hussain. “Houston is the most diverse city in the United States, and the world-class experience inside airports reflect the vibrant spirit of Houston while encouraging other airports to rise to our level of customer service.” Hussain pointed out that the dedicated prayer space is open to all passengers, employees, and stakeholders with access to IAH Terminal D ahead of Ramadan.

The ablution room and prayer room officially opened to international passengers in Terminal D on Friday, February 16. Houston Airports also offers a second Interfaith Chapel at Bush Airport in Terminal C and at William P. Hobby Airport. 

Houston Airports continues to lead the commercial aviation industry in cultivating inclusive and accessible terminals for all guests. In 2023, Houston Airports opened a sensory room and a companion care changing room. In 2022, Houston Airports opened mother's rooms and new service animal relief areas.