George Bush Intercontinental Airport is located approximately 23 miles, or 37km north of downtown Houston, and is the largest airport in the state of Texas. It is recognised by its official airport code of IAH. The airport is the tenth busiest in North America, with around forty million passengers per year, and the sixth busiest in the world for aircraft movements. For arriving passengers, there are buses and taxis that provide ground transport, but many prefer to rent a car, from one of the George Bush Airport car hire companies. There are several car rental companies from which to choose, and they are all found at one convenient location.
Houston Airport consists of five large terminal buildings, some of which are only used for international purposes. Terminals A and B are the original buildings of the airport, while Terminal D and E are newer developments. The airport is a hub for United Airlines, and passengers on their domestic services will arrive at Terminal C. United Airlines’ international flights arrive at Terminal E. There are two airport trains that run between the terminals – one on the secure side of the buildings and another on the non-secure side of the airport. The inter-terminal train could be useful to arriving passengers who need to reach another terminal or the Marriott Hotel of the airport. It is an underground train, free for use by all passengers. Another recent development of the airport is the Consolidated Rental Car Facility, that holds the rental counters of several car hire companies, including National, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Auto Europa, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar and Easycar.
It was decided by airport authorities that a Consolidated Rental Car facility was required at the airport, in order to level the playing fields of the car rental companies and to facilitate the efficiency of their operations. It also opened up more space within the terminal buildings and reduced traffic at the terminal curb-sides. The George Bush Intercontinental Airport Car Rental Centre is a $135 million facility, laid out over two levels. It is located on a 140 acre site that is found to the east of John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Besides room for the car rental counters of the above-mentioned companies, the complex is equipped with a 30,000 square foot, four-bay bus maintenance facility, a 3,500 square foot tilt wall bus wash and fuelling station and parking garages for all the vehicles of the car rental companies. There are also flight information monitors which are useful for customers who are returning their vehicle and who will be taking a departure flight. A further space of 60 acres is also available for expansion of the facility should it be required in future years.
Shuttle buses are available from the airport terminal buildings for the transport of passengers who need to travel to the Rental Car Centre of George Bush Intercontinental. From the arrival area of each terminal, there are signs that lead the way to the departure area of the shuttles, and they read ‘Rental Car Shuttle’. The shuttles are frequently available, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. They are also easily recognised in their white and maroon colours. The airport car hire companies don’t supply their own shuttles, but rather make use of a common bus system. This reduces traffic on the airport roadways and helps to maintain a cleaner environment with fewer emissions. The shuttles are also ‘clean diesel’ vehicles, equipped to transport passengers with disabilities and have room for passengers’ luggage items.
The vehicles hired by the Houston Airport car rental companies come in a variety of car categories, some with large sized vehicles and others with smaller sized cars ideal for city driving. Economy, Compact and Midsize vehicles are usually considered the most affordable to hire, and are similar to the Chevrolet Aveo, Ford Focus, Dodge Avenger and Toyota Corolla. They are nice cars for all types of driving, provided that not too many luggage items need to be loaded. Slight larger cars available include the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, Ford Crown Victoria and Buick LaCrosse, of which a few are Luxury and Premium vehicles that are often hired for prestigious business events. National is a car hire company well known to provide excellent services for the frequent airport business traveller.
Minivans, and even some SUVs, are large enough to accommodate more than five passengers, and are often hired by groups of leisure travellers. The Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna are available from companies such as Alamo, who specialize in car rental for leisure trips. The larger SUVs include the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban and Lincoln Navigator, while SUVs for five are similar to the Ford Escape, Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Car hire companies such as Budget and Avis also offer vehicles that can seat up to twelve or fifteen people. These are Passenger Vans such as the Chevrolet Express and Ford Econoline. Budget and Avis are well known around the world for their competitive car rental rates and large range of specialty vehicles. Budget and Hertz, however, allow some of their vehicles to be hired by specific make and model, rather than just by category. More specific requests can be made from Budget’s Street Fleet category and from the Hertz Green Traveler, Prestige and Adrenaline collections.
From George Bush Intercontinental Airport, one way hires can be arranged, and customers may also request the use of child seats, satellite navigation systems and hand controls for disabled drivers. The city of Houston is large, and a GPS unit can help to eliminate the frustration of getting lost in unfamiliar territory. The navigation systems hired also have pre-programmed points of interest, which are often useful for many travellers. A child seat is required by law, in the interests of road safety, and they come in sizes that are suitable for infants, toddlers and older children. GPS units and child seats will have extra charges per day of hire, however hand control equipment is free of charge from the car rental companies of George Bush Airport. Hand controls are ideally used by persons with a lower limb disability, and should be reserved in advance. One way hire services allow the rented car to be returned to a different car rental location, and may be permitted to be driven to all nearby states.
Always drive carefully in the city of Houston, with an especially watchful eye for speedy drivers on the Interstates. The speed limits to follow are 30mph/48kph in urban areas, 65mph/105kph on open roads and 70mph/113kmph on motorways and highways. Although the city can be driven quite easily, the downtown area is very busy, and sometimes public transport is preferred, in which case your rented car can safely be left at one of a few parking areas nearby. To rent a car from George Bush Intercontinental, the primary renter should be 21 years of age or older, and should be in possession of a valid drivers license and major credit card. Find out all further details from your favourite Houston Airport car hire company.