George Bush Intercontinental Airport

George Bush Intercontinental Airport is an international airport in the city of Houston, Texas, United States serving the Greater Houston area. Located drive north of Downtown Houston between Interstate 45 and U.S. Highway 59, Bush Intercontinental is Texas's second-largest air facility—after Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport—covering an area of 10,000 acres (40 km²). The airport has scheduled flights to destinations in the United States and international destinations in Asia, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mexico, South America, the Middle East and scheduled charter flights to Africa. George Bush Intercontinental Airport is named after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport served 42,979,207 passengers in 2007 making the airport the eighth busiest for total passengers in North America. In 2006, the airport was named the fastest growing of the top ten airports in the United States by the United States Department of Transportation. Houston is home to the headquarters of Continental Airlines, and Bush Intercontinental is Continental's largest hub, with an average of over 700 daily departures.


Houston Intercontinental Airport, as it was originally known, opened in June 1969. All passenger traffic from William P. Hobby Airport moved to Intercontinental upon the airport's completion. Hobby remained open as a general aviation airport and reopened two years later to domestic routes and discount air carriers.

As of 2007, Terminals A and B remain from the original design of the airport. Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal C opened in 1981, the Mickey Leland International Airlines Building (now called Terminal D) opened in May 1990, and the new Terminal E partially opened on June 3, 2003. The rest of Terminal E opened on January 7, 2004. Terminal D is the arrival point for all international flights arriving into Houston except for flights operated by Continental Airlines which uses Terminal E. Terminal D also held customs and INS until the opening of the new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) building, completed on January 25, 2005.

The city renamed the airport George Bush Intercontinental Airport/Houston, after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, in 1997.


George Bush Intercontinental Airport served 42,979,207 passengers in 2007 making the airport the eighth busiest for total passengers in North America. IAH is the seventh largest international passenger gateway in the United States and the sixth busiest airport in the world for total aircraft movements according to the ACI World Traffic Report for 2006. In 2006, the United States Department of Transportation named George Bush Intercontinental Airport the fastest growing of the top ten airports in the United States.

The airport currently ranks third in the United States for non-stop domestic and international service with 182 destinations, trailing Chicago O'Hare International Airport with 192 destinations and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with 239 destinations. Furthermore, about 45 percent of the airport's passengers begin or terminate (O&D) their journey at the airport. Bush Intercontinental ranks as one of the major United States airports with the highest on-time performance, according to a 2007 United States Department of Transportation report.

As of 2007, with 31 destinations in Mexico, the airport offers service to more Mexican destinations than any other United States airport.

The Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center, located on the airport grounds at 16600 JFK Boulevard, serves as the airport's ARTCC.

Terminals and airlines

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport has a total of five terminals encompassing 250 acres (1 km²). The terminals at IAH all have a unique shape and are not in a particular design. Long term redevelopment has the terminals each being in a horizontal line (similar to Hartsfield in Atlanta).

There are three main entrances into IAH's terminal areas. JFK Boulevard is the main artery into the airport and intersects with Greens Road becoming a freeway. Will Clayton Parkway runs east to west is another main road for IAH. The Hardy Tollway Connector runs from west to east connecting JFK Boulevard to the Hardy Toll Road.

Terminal map

Terminal A

Terminal A was one of the original two terminals to open in 1969. Like Terminal B, it originally had four circular modules (called "Flight Stations" locally) at the end of corridors radiating out of the corners of the terminal. However, in the late-1990s and early-2000s, the North and South Concourses were rebuilt into linear facilities which provide a smoother operation within the terminal. Terminal A has 20 gates, with 10 gates in the North Concourse and 10 gates in the South Concourse.

Terminal B

Terminal B was also one of the original two terminals to open in 1969. It is mostly an unaltered terminal from its original design and is used mostly by regional jets for Continental Express. For this reason, the jet bridges are considerably lower to the ground than most others. Future plans call for linear facilities, similar to those at Terminal A, to replace the circular "Flight Stations". Terminal B has 31 gates and 20 hardstand gates.

  • Continental Airlines
    • Continental Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines (Alexandria, Amarillo, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Brownsville, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus (OH), Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Walton Beach, Harlingen, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Little Rock, Louisville, Lubbock, McAllen, Midland/Odessa, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Oklahoma City, Pensacola, St. Louis, West Palm Beach)
    • Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines (Albuquerque, Alexandria, Amarillo, Asheville, Atlanta, Austin, Bakersfield, Baton Rouge, Beaumont, Birmingham (AL), Brownsville, Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, College Station, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus (OH), Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dallas-Love, Dayton, Des Moines, El Paso, Fayetteville (AR), Fort Myers, Fort Walton Beach, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville, Gulfport/Biloxi, Harlingen, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jackson, Jacksonville, Killeen, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Laredo, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Lubbock, McAllen, Memphis, Midland/Odessa, Milwaukee, Mobile, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orlando, Pensacola, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Salt Lake City, Savannah, Shreveport, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto-Pearson, Tucson, Tulsa, Victoria (TX), Washington-Dulles, West Palm Beach, Wichita)

Terminal C

Lewis W. Cutrer Terminal C, named after former Mayor of Houston Lewis W. Cutrer, was the third terminal to open at the airport following A and B in 1981. It serves as Continental Airlines's main base of domestic operations. Terminal C has 31 gates. The terminal includes the airport's interfaith chapel.

  • Continental Airlines (U.S. and Canada) (Albuquerque, Anchorage [seasonal], Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore/Washington, Baton Rouge, Birmingham (AL) [seasonal], Boston, Calgary, Charlotte [begins November 2], Chicago-O'Hare, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, McAllen, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montrose/Telluride [seasonal], New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario (CA), Orange County, Orlando, Pensacola, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San Juan, Santo Domingo, Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa, Toronto-Pearson, Tucson, Tulsa, Vail [seasonal], Vancouver, Washington-Reagan, West Palm Beach)

International Terminal D

Mickey Leland Terminal D opened in 1990 and took over the international operations of the entire airport. Originally Terminal D, named Terminal IAB, was the only terminal to have a Federal Inspection Facility (FIS), and US Customs. At the time, all international arrivals used the terminal. The original name of Terminal D was Mickey Leland International Arrivals Building. Since the opening of Terminal E/FIS, Terminal D now houses all non-Continental international flights except for some Continental Express international flights. In 2007 the airport authority began renovations in which 20 additional common-use ticket counters, upscale retail and restaurant shops, and new on-airport spa/beauty lounge will be added over the next few years. Terminal D has 12 gates.

The Houston Airport System (HAS) is negotiating future services with other international carriers including Air India, , Arik Air, , Air Algérie , Finnair and Korean Air.

International Terminal E

Terminal E is IAH's newest terminal, and houses Continental Airlines's international operations and some domestic operations. The terminal opened in two phases. The first phase opened with 14 gates, and the second phase added 16 gates in 2003 for a total of 30.

Originally Continental used the terminal solely for domestic flights, but relocated its international services to the new terminal after the new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) building opened. The terminal was designed for maximum flexibility, with jetways that were able to handle any aircraft. Currently, all Continental international mainline flights arrive at Terminal E while all Continental Express international flights arrive at Terminal D. In addition to international flights, Continental domestic mainline flights also operate out of the terminal.

  • Continental Airlines (Domestic and Canada) (See Terminal C)
  • Continental Airlines (International) (Acapulco, Amsterdam, Aruba, Belize City, Bogotá, Bonaire, Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Cancún, Caracas, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Guadalajara, Guatemala City, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, León, Liberia (CR), Lima, London-Gatwick [ends October 25], London-Heathrow, Managua, Mérida, Mexico City, Montego Bay, Monterrey, Nassau [seasonal], Panama City, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Port-of-Spain, Puerto Vallarta, Quito, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, Roatán, San Jose del Cabo, San José (CR), San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Tegucigalpa, Tokyo-Narita)

Charter airlines

Terminal transportation

An above ground train called TerminaLink connects Terminals B, C, D, E and the International Arrivals Building (IAB) for those with connecting flights in different terminals and provides sterile airside connections. This allows passengers to travel within the airport without having to re-enter security. TerminaLink has three stops: Terminal B, Terminal C, and Terminals D/E including the IAB. Currently the airport is expanding the line to Terminal A at a cost of US $100 million, with construction beginning in early 2008.

An underground inter-terminal train outside of the sterile zone connects all five terminals and the airport hotel which can be accessed by all. This system is based on the WEDway PeopleMover technology.

In addition to train service a bus-shuttle service is offered from Terminal A to Terminals B, and C. This allows passengers needing to travel to/from Terminal A to access other terminals without having to leave the sterile zone.

Ground transportation


The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, offers bus service available at the south side of Terminal C. The 102 Bush IAH Express and the METRO Airport Direct serve the airport.

Courtesy vans

Courtesy vans are operated by various hotels and motels in and around the Houston Area. There are courtesy telephones in the baggage claim areas to request pick-up for most hotels and motels.

Shuttle service

Regularly scheduled bus and shuttle service is provided by various carriers to locations from IAH to Reliant Park/Reliant Astrodome, Downtown Houston, the Galleria, Greenway Plaza, the Texas Medical Center, Westside hotels, the city of College Station and William P. Hobby Airport. Super Shuttle also provides service from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the surrounding communities via shared vans.


Taxis can be hailed through the Ground Transportation employees outside each terminal. All destinations within Houston's city limits to/from Bush Intercontinental Airport are charged according to the flat Zone Rate or the meter rate.


Ed Carpenter's "Light Wings", a multicolored glass sculpture suspended below a sky light, adorns the Terminal A North Concourse. In Terminal A, South Concourse stands Terry Allen's "Countree Music." Allen's piece is a cast bronze tree that plays instrumental music by Joe Ely and David Byrne, though the music is normally turned off. The corridor leading to Terminal A displays Leamon Green's "Passing Through," a 200-foot etched glass wall depicting airport travelers.

The elevators in Terminal B are cased in stainless steel accordion shaped structures designed by Rachel Hecker. The corridor leading to Terminal B has Dixie Friend Gay's "Houston Bayou." This work is composed of an 8 x 75 ft (2.4 x 23 m) Byzantine glass mosaic mural depicting scenes from Houston's bayous and wetlands, several bronze animals embedded in the floor, and five mosaic columns.

Lights Spikes was created by Jay Baker, shown in the photo, were created for the 1990 G7 Summit when it was hosted by President George H. W. Bush in Houston. The sculpture was relocated to the airport outside of E Terminal after the meetings from its original location in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The distance between each “spike” and this point is relative to the distance between Houston and the capital of the country the flags represent. The countries represented are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Canada, Italy and Germany, as well as the European community and the columns lean at a ten degree angle toward a central point that represents Houston.


George Bush Intercontinental ranks as the 11th-largest gateway in the United States in terms of international air cargo moved. The facility moved over 387,000 metric tons of air cargo in 2007, a 5.4 percent increase over 2006.

Because of the 4.2 percent annual growth rate in cargo over the last five years, the Houston Airport System decided to create the 125 million dollar, 550,000 square feet (51,095 square meters) George Bush Intercontinental CargoCenter, which opened in January 2003. The new facility can handle up to 20 widebody aircraft at one time. The CargoCenter has its own separate Federal Inspection Facitilty (FIS) that houses Customs, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), United States Department of Agriculture, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The facility also includeds the International Air CargoCenter II, a 60,000 sq ft (18,288 m2) perishable cargo handling facility. It is located in the IAH CargoCenter and offer direct ramp access for cargo airlines as well as importers and distributors of perishable goods.

For four years in a row, Air Cargo World has honored Bush Intercontinental Airport with the ACE Award for Excellence in the category of airports with less than 500,000 tons of air cargo annually.

Trade Data

Cargo Airlines

Master plan

The city of Houston presented its master plan update for IAH in 2005 . The near-term plan calls for Terminal B's circular flight stations to be rebuilt into linear facilities similar to Terminal A. Soon after, all of the facilities in the North and South Concourses will be linked together to form two long continuous facilities. The long-term plans call for the existing unit terminals to be demolished and the North and South Concourses to be linked midway. A new Central Passenger Processing facility will be built, called the East Terminal. An underground people mover will also be built. Airfield improvements include a new Runway 8C-26C, a new Runway 9R-27L, and a perimeter taxiway. Access roadways will also be improved.

Accidents and incidents

The following involved flights departing or arriving at the airport:



External links

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