You can fly over floods… but only if there’s a place to take off and a place to land. Houston’s airports, like the rest of the city, have been dealing with high water and torrential rain caused by Hurricane Harvey, and while the runways are dry, it’s going to take some time for air travel to and through the area to get anything like back to normal.
Houston is home to two major airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Many major carriers fly through one or both, including Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and a number of international carriers.
The Houston airports announced today that they have resumed “limited domestic airline passenger service.” The airports will be slowly ramping up operations, with full service expected to resume over Labor Day weekend.
Limited really does mean limited. As Bloomberg notes, IAH is a major hub for United, which usually operates 480 flights per day out of the airport (to say nothing of all the arrivals). For now, they’re starting with a total of six: three in, three out.
American Airlines, which operates out of both HOU and IAH, will be resuming limited flights today. Southwest will be waiting until Saturday, Sept. 2, to resume limited service from HOU.
One analyst and former airline executive told Bloomberg that with as much water still remains in Houston, “It’s not going to be a full operation without concerns probably for another five days” — a solid ten days since the airports first closed down.
Roads to both IAH and HOU are largely accessible at this point, the airports authority says — but that doesn’t mean you can get from the airport to where you want to be.
The airports authority also strongly urges anyone who doesn’t need to be at the airport to stay well away, saying, “only those with a ticket for a confirmed scheduled flight” should come to the airport. In other words, don’t go to the airport to see if your flight happens to be taking off; check with your airline first and stay away if your flight is cancelled.
The major domestic airlines all have dedicated alerts to help passengers on affected flights rebook or check flight status: