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Spotting Guide: Houston George Bush Intercontinental (KIAH)

Houston George Bush Intercontinental is the Houston Metropolitan area's largest and busiest airport. The airport serves over 40 million passengers per year to several domestic and international destinations. IAH is now the largest hub for United Airlines with over 800 daily departures.

The majority of the aircraft you will see when spotting at Bush are United's 737's, 757's, 767's,  & 777's as well as Turboprops and Regional Jets operated by United Express carriers. You will also see mainline and regional examples of other American domestic airlines such as US Airways, Delta, and American. In the afternoon there are several international arrivals from airlines such as British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Singapore, Air France, and Emirates, mostly utilizing Boeing 777's & 747's. Bush is also home to a fair amount of cargo airlines including UPS, FedEx, Atlas Air, DHL, Cathay Pacific, and many more. Cathay Pacific is now utilizing the new Boeing 747-8 on daily cargo flights to Bush.

Feel free to contact me for any specifics or questions you have about spotting at KIAH.

Spotting Locations 
Spot 1: Lee Road Observation Area

The Lee Road location is the only official public spotting area for the airport. The area provides excellent views of aircraft on approach to Runway 27 as well as those departing Runway 09. The area is opened in the morning and closed after dark by airport security. 27 is one of the main arrival runways when winds are out of the west. 09 is occasionally used for departures when the winds are out of the east and 15L and 15R are extremely busy.

Photos from this location: Spot 2: Airport Fire Department Entrance

This location is on a small access road off of Aldine Westfield Road on the airport’s west side. It serves as an entrance to the airport fire department. Although this spot isn’t an official viewing location, we weren’t hassled by airport security or police. The spot provides a great view of aircraft arriving to Runway 08R, the main runway when aircraft are landing to the east.

Photos from this location:

Spot 3: Terminal A & B Parking Garage

The 7th and 8th decks of the Terminal A/B Parking Garage provide some of the best views of IAH. Follow signs to terminal A/B from the airport entrance to get to this location. There is a fee for hourly parking in this garage. You MUST let airport security know by phone that you are spotting there or else you will be questioned. Their number is 281-230-1300. Once you let them know what you are doing, they will leave you alone. The North side of the garage provides great views of runways 26R/8L and 26L/8R, as well as the United Express and International terminals. Many aircraft, including most international heavies, will taxi right by the north side for departure from 15L and 15R. The south side provides views of the United mainline terminals and aircraft taxiing to 15L & 15R for departure. Departures from 15L & 15R can be photographed from the garage’s west side.

Photos from this location: Marriott SpringHill Suites Hotel

This hotel provides great views of aircraft departing from runways 15L and 15R, which are used the majority of the time. Make sure to ask for a room on a higher floor (the hotel has 6) and facing the north. Photography can be difficult since the windows do not open, but the views are still great.

Photos from this location:


  1. mohammad mohammad
    May 22, 2016    

    Hi Kyle. thank you very much for your useful information about spotting at IAH airport. i am new to the United States and a aviation lover. For sure i will go to the above addresses to take some photos. hope to see you there 🙂

  2. Gee Balboa Gee Balboa
    July 20, 2016    

    How old are you 13? and 30some countries wow!

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About Kyle

I am a recent college graduate with a degree in Aviation Management. I spend my time as an airline industry professional, private pilot, blogger and world traveler. I have visited 36 countries to date and don't plan on slowing down. This blog is my way of sharing the latest developments in the airline industry as well as experiences from my world travels. All views and opinions are strictly my own.

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