William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)

Basics of Airport & Airplane Travel
at William P. Hobby Airport

At nearly all airports, it is a good idea to arrive at the terminal at least one hour before the scheduled flight time.  On busy holiday weekends, or at large airports, one should add another hour to that, just to be on the safe side. 

Parking:  If driving your own vehicle, allow an extra 30 to 60 minutes to park, and then take a shuttle if necessary to get to the terminal building. Most airports have a compbination of on-site and remote parking.

Arrival: Airports, including Houston Hobby, have specific drop-off locations where cars can park for a very brief time to drop off passengers and their luggage.  Drivers must not leave the immediate vicinity of their vehicle, or it will be towed away. At large airports, it is important to remember that there may be multiple terminal buildings, and thus multiple possible locations for drop-off.  If you start off at the wrong terminal building, it may take an hour or more to reach the correct terminal by walking, tram, or shuttle bus.

Upon entering the airport, there is a large public lobby, which contains the individual airline check-in counters, as well as a variety of shops, food vendors, etc.  If a passenger has luggage to check, or needs to purchase a ticket, then proceed to appropriate airline counter.  The aiport also has an informatin booth in the main lobby.

The status of incoming and outgoing flights is shown on large electronic display panels throughout the airport.

Check-in: Each airline has a check-in counter in the lobby.  This is where tickets can be purchased, luggage checked, etc.   Luggage may incur additional fees, and must fall within certain standards for weight, quality of packaging, and contents.  In general, nothing dangerous or flammable may be shipped as luggage, or carried on-board an airplane.  Specifics are generally posted on airline web sites.

Security: As with all US airports since 9/11, security is taken very seriously.  All travelers must present identification, and pass through metal detectors in order to approach any aircraft.  Contractors, visitors, employees, tenants, etc., must also have appropriate identification (security badges) in order to venture beyond open public areas of Houston's Hobby Airport. 

Passengers who subscribe to certain security pre-clearance services may be allowed to pass through expedited security lines.  CLEAR is one such service that operates at Houston Hobby and Houston Bush airports.

Before venturing to any airport, one should review the list of prohibited items, and make certain that luggage, carry-on bags, and pockets are clear of such items.  There is an official list of prohibited items, but security personnel can also use their own judgement as to what items might be dangerous.  As a general rule, Just about anything that has a blade or point will beprohibited. Large containers of liquids and lotions are also prohibited, and individuals may be searched by scanners or by hand. 

Trying to carry guns or explosives into an airport (even accidently forgotten items) may result in arrest, prosection, and possibly jail time.  If in doubt about any item, leave it at home or pack it in checked luggage.  Most experienced travelers try to carry as little as possible onto airplanes, to simplify security checks.

Note that some items are completely prohibited from air travell, even in checked luggage.  This includes items or materials that might explode, start a fire, or contain hazardous chemicals.

Boarding terminal facilities:  There are usually a number of small shops and food vendors in the vicinity of the aircraft boarding ramps, as well as seating areas near each gate. Houston Hobby airport has WiFi computer access available in these areas.

Boarding Aircraft: A Boarding Pass is generally needed to pass through the gates leading onto each aircraft.  Depending on the airline, this may have been issued at the airport check-in counter, at the gate counter, printed from an online website, or dispensed at an airport automated kiosk. 

Each airline has one of more of these methods, so inquire before going to the airport.  Some flights allow passengers to reserve particular seats, in which case the seat number will be printed on the boarding pass.

Flight: During takeoff & landing, seatbelts must be fastened, and use of electronic devices and cell phones is not allowed.  Flight attendants will make an announcement about this, as well as other safety procedures.  During flight, food and drinks may be offered, depending on the length of the flight.  Some items are free, while others may incur an additional charge.  Pilots may occasionally make announcements if turbulent conditions are expected, or if notable landmarks are going to be visible from the aircraft windows.

Landing: The pilot or flight attendants will make an announcement a few minutes before the aircraft lands, reminding passengers to fasten seatbelts, clear off folding tables, and turn off electronic devices. Just before the landing, the aircraft may make several loud noises as the engines change speed, wing flaps deploy, and the landing gear is lowered.  The plane generally lands with a mild bump, although occasionally there will be a harder landing with a more noticeable bump. The engines will changes speed, and it may become fairly noisy as the brakes go on and the engines reverse thrust to slow the plane.

Flight attendants will announce when it is safe to unbuckle seatbelts and stand to leave the plane.

Departing: Remember to gather all belongings from under the seat, the seatback pockets, and the overhead storage bins.  Join the flow of passengers leaving the plane in an orderly fashion, and walk through the terminal to either the baggage claim area, parking area, or vehicle pick-up area.  All of these areas will be clearly marked with signage.

If you have arrived from a different country, proceed through the US Customs area to be cleared for entry into the USA.  Baggage will be inspected and a passport and/or visa will be required.



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