05 Sep Hurricane Harvey causes flight chaos + how you can help
The last week has been a chaotic one, as Hurricane Harvey has wrought an enormous amount of destruction via wind and rain.
Unprecedented in scale, it has had an enormous impact on the American airline industry.
Flights grounded, passengers trapped
Starting on Saturday, August 26th, the wind and rain of Hurricane Harvey began to ground thousands of flights throughout Texas, but especially in Houston.
Then, something terrible happened. The storm stalled over the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, sucking up ample heat and moisture and dumping it as prodigious amounts of rain over the pancake-flat plains surrounding the fourth largest city in the United States.
This created the conditions for a 1 in 500-year flood to develop, causing up to 1/3 of Harris County to be submerged under as much as 20 feet of water.
Houston’s two major airports were not spared, as the runways of the airport were covered shortly after the emergency began, rendering them unusable.
Upwards of 500 passengers were stranded until late in the afternoon on August 27th, when the waters receded enough for planes to land at William P. Hobby Airport.
Southwest Airlines got permission to run five rescue flights, ferrying the marooned travelers to Dallas, where they were due to be re-booked.
By Tuesday, the effects of Harvey had caused the cancellation of over 5,000 flights nationwide, extending a bit of the discomfort suffered by Houstonians to fliers across the country.
Regular landings and takeoffs set to resume soon – maybe
According to sources, operations at George Bush International Airport and William P. Hobby Airport were set to resume on Wednesday, but given the fluid situation on the ground, it is not at all clear when either facility will be running at 100% capacity.
With heavy rains continuing over Eastern Texas and Louisiana as of the writing of this article, delays and cancellations caused by turbulent gusty winds, severe weather, and by the possible resurgence of flood waters may very well occur.
If you have set travel plans taking you to Houston soon, stay in close contact with your airline to stay up to date with the status of your flight.
Help Harvey victims – gain Air Miles
In the wake of such a massive catastrophe, it is easy to feel powerless in the face of unprecedented destruction.
However, a range of relief efforts have cropped up in response to this disaster; from initiatives spearheaded by established organizations like the American Red Cross to local grassroots efforts collecting physical supplies, there is much you can do to help.
To encourage their customers to support charities during this trying time, two airlines have announced schemes that allow customers to earn bonus air miles on their cards in return for helping the Red Cross.
United has offered 250 bonus miles to those giving $50 – $99, 500 miles for those giving $100 – 249, and 1,000 miles for those pledging $250 or more.
American Airlines has gotten in on the act as well, offering miles at a 10:1 ratio for those pledging $25 or more to the Red Cross.
Got extra air miles you are willing to spare? The Red Cross will happily accept them, as they use them to fly victims to safety and volunteers to where they are needed.