IAH Longhorn

Walking Tour: Houston Intercontinental (IAH)

A 10-point walking tour during a 4 hour layover:

  1. Ride the TerminalLink tram (above ground/inside security)
  2. Get a chair massage in Terminal D (between Gates D7-8)
  3. Enjoy a massage chair, throughout all terminals
  4. Visit Interfaith Chapel in Terminal D (near Gates D7-8)
  5. Check out USO (military only) – Terminal D (across from Gate D2)
  6. Check out United Club (UAL passengers only) – Terminal E (Gates E11-12)
  7. Charge devices  at power stations
  8. Be on the lookout for stuff kids will find interesting
  9. Sleeping possibilities
  10. Airport Art
TerminaLink, Next Train 60 SecTerminalLink. This very handy tram arrives into each terminal station about every 90 seconds.  On my way through the first time,  I decided to walk from Terminal C to Terminals D & E for exploratory purposes. On the way back through, however, I discovered TerminalLink is definitely the way to go if you are catching a flight with a connection of one hour or less. Like Texas, IAH is very, very big.It is an above-ground ride, so you can watch the planes while you ride.  It reminded me of a Disney tram, giving a nice overview of the size and shape of the airport proper since you could see out.There is also an underground train, but you have to go through security again at each terminal.  If all you have is a small bag, this is no big and kids might enjoy it.
IAH - XPressSpaXpressSpa. This is in the recently and beautifully and renovated Terminal D. I decided to skip the chair massage to go a little farther in search of art, but I snapped this photo and saw several men and women having neck massage or getting nails done.  This could be a way to get a small, bored child seated and engaged for a time – let them have a mani/pedi in any riotus color they want while you get a chair massage.  Or read a magazine in peace.
IAH - Free Makeover Terminal CFree Makeover.  Free makeover in Terminal C, and had a nice store for either browsing or buying.
Interfaith ChapelVisit Interfaith Chapel.  There are actually two Interfaith Chapels at IAH – one in Terminal C and one in Terminal D.I walked by it, but did not go in.  Instead, I banked the location in my memory – if I ever got stuck in the airport overnight, this seemed like a nice quiet location to go and hang out during the wee hours. (photo from fly2houston.com)
IAH Nursing RoomNote to nursing moms:  Terminal D also has a family room with rocking chairs and cribs intended for nursing moms to get a little privacy and tots to take a nap. I didn’t go there, but it might be worth checking out.
USO logoUSO. I ran out of time to visit. USO is located in Terminal D (near Gates D7-8), and offers an entertainment lounge with theatre seating, a quiet room, a children’s play room, a gaming room, a Cyber Cafe, luggage storage, flight information boards, and a kitchen area.
Airline Lounges.   Most of the major airlines have a lounge, check out whoever you have ticketed through. I chose the UAL lounge, because I fly United the most. IAH has FIVE United Clubs aka lounge.  The current price is $50 for a one time visit, but it is good for any or all of the IAH UAL lounges. Four of the five UAL clubs close at 9pm, the one in the E Terminal closes at 11:30pm.  It was very nice and in certain situations I could definitely see forking over $50 bucks for comfy chairs, snacks and beverages, power charging, a bar, and TV and a nap without worrying too much about my carry-ons, away from the madding crowd.  Check your airline’s website for pricing at their lounges.
IAH Charging Station @ D9Charging stations.  There are a plethora of free charging stations, wall outlets and Rapid Charges ($3/3min of super charging). You won’t have any trouble finding one anywhere. Kudos IAH!more about IAH charging stations
IAH kids play area
Kids. I did not go to the family-friendly area, but there is a play area in Terminal D.  There are lots of big big spaces if someone needs to get active and blow off steam, and  lots of rodeo artwork with longhorns and huge cowboy boots. There is also a NASA display that contains a little bit of interactive fun, and this is near the Xpress Spa in Terminal D.
 PedometerTrack time and steps walking.  It wasn’t possible to walk all the way from A-E the way I had envisioned, but I did put in 10,840 steps just at the airport between Terminals B, C, D & E.  That’s about 3.5 miles, so good cardio with lots of window shopping opportunities.
Ruby's Diner Kids ClubRuby’s Diner Kids Club:  As you walk from the TerminalLink train into the D and E Terminals, there is a fun restaurant that looks like a 50s diner called Ruby’s.  The food looked better than fast food for kids and adults, and they have special kid-oriented activities.
Massage ChairsSleeping Possibilities. In the unlikely event of an overnight stay in the airport (weather, holidays, volcanic eruption, meteors…) there are many comfy massage chairs located everywhere I walked.  Whether overnighter or if I just needed a nap, this would probably be my first choice – plant myself, slip in $1 (just to be fair to the nice people who put these chairs there), lock my bag to my body and sleep.  The Terminal D waiting area would be my 2nd choice as it is big and open and has lots of comfortable seating. My 3rd choice would be the long carpeted corridor on the way to the B84-88 gates, lots of power plugs, but only if there are two people to trade off watching bags.
Cartoon of woman sleeping on an airport bench.SleepingInAirports.com is written by this whole underground of people who plan travel that includes sleeping in airports to save on hotel bills.  I’m a little old and spoiled for that, but in a pinch… Excellent ideas, tips, and safety briefings about sleeping in airports. It’s cool.
George Herbert Walker Bush Bronze StatueArt.  George Herbert Walker Bush in bronze, surrounded by the story of his life.  Houston is Big on Rodeo Art.  Big, wildly painted boots, and photo gallery exhibits about Houston Rodeo. Houston is Big on Rodeo. I intended to explore further on the way home, but forgot to check the layover time and just didn’t have enough.  Another day – Houston is a hub and a good way to go to escape snow delays in the winter.
IAH - Art at the AirportJust walking around you’ll see so much art – in the etched corridor windows between terminals, giant boots painted with thematically western art, don’t forget to look UP, don’t forget to look at the architecture which is also art.  Everywhere you walk there is something cool to look at, if you just look! PDF to IAH artwork

I saw all of this in about 3 hours, walked a little over 3 miles, window-shopped at the many Texas-flavored shops, sat in the International Terminal and listened with delight to the cacophony of languages, struck up interesting conversations with a stay-at-home mom, a Houston native businessperson, a psychoanalyst, and a lovely gate agent who handled stress with a smile like she’d done it before.  The journey is also the destination.


One thought on “Walking Tour: Houston Intercontinental (IAH)

  1. Pingback: Tucson: Art in the Desert | Sky Sense

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