With both of Houston’s airports closed due to severe weather related to Hurricane Harvey, travelers across the country can expect to feel a ripple effect in the days and weeks to come.
More than 1,500 flights to and from Houston were canceled Monday, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware. According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Facebook page, George Bush Intercontinental and Houston Hobby airports are expected to stay closed until at least Wednesday.
“We are doing everything we can to resume operations once it’s safe to do so,” both airports tweeted Monday morning.
Chris Elliott, author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler,” said major weather events such as Hurricane Harvey can cause problems for travelers across the country.
“If the storm comes close to an airline’s hub city like Dallas or Houston, then it has the potential to disrupt the entire network because you have to go through one of their airports to get anywhere you want to go,” Elliott said.
What should you do if your flight is canceled or delayed? First, talk to your airline. Most are waiving change fees and offering refunds for flights delayed or canceled because of Harvey. Here’s a sample of what some of the major airlines are offering:
United: All United flights to and from Houston Intercontinental are canceled until at least noon Thursday, and flights to other cities may also be affected. If you were scheduled to travel to, from or through Austin, Brownsville, College Station, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Houston, McAllen or San Antonio or the Louisiana cities of Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans or Shreveport between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, any change fee and difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing through Sept. 20. Learn more at united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx.
Southwest: All flights to and from Houston Hobby are suspended through at least Tuesday. “Our hearts are with our customers and employees in the Houston area — both at the airport and in surrounding areas affected by flooding. We will continue monitoring HOU conditions and provide updates as information becomes available,” the airline posted on its website Monday. A customer travel advisory offering flexibility for flight changes to Houston, Austin, Corpus Christi and San Antonio is in effect through Friday. Find details at southwest.com.
If you need to travel and your Houston flight is canceled, Elliott recommended checking for options in nearby cities. As of Monday afternoon, Corpus Christi International Airport, San Antonio International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were all offering regular service.
“The airport didn’t experience any shutdowns, we continue to operate as normal, and we’re helping passengers (affected by the hurricane) get to where they need to be,” said Derick Hackett, public information specialist with the city of Austin Department of Aviation, adding that 40 flights between Houston and Austin-Bergstrom were canceled Sunday and 18 were canceled Monday. “We’re asking them to arrive early, and the airlines are working with them on their options.”
Hackett recommended that those flying out of Austin check their flight status at content.abia.org:8080/webfids.