Hurricane Harvey Cancels Thousands Of Flights, Disrupts Shipping

Image courtesy of Jordan Tessler | The Washington Post

Flooding in the Houston area continues today, as remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to unleash unfathomable torrents of rain on the Gulf Coast. In addition to the destruction facing local homes and businesses, all travel into or out of the nation’s fourth-largest city — both for people and for things — has been hampered, and will likely continue to be for some time.

Air Travel

Houston is home to two major airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Several major airlines fly through Hobby Airport, including American, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest. Several more national and international carriers fly through Bush Intercontinental, including Air Canada, Air France, Alaska, British Airways, United, and others.

Botth IAH and HOU have been completely closed since Sunday, Aug. 27, and it’s unclear how much longer they might stay that way.

More: Southwest Airlines flies 500 stranded passengers out of closed Houston airport

The airport authority website says for both that they are closed until further notice; the FAA indicates that HOU may reopen at noon on Wednesday (Aug. 30), with IAH to follow on Thursday (Aug. 31). That is, of course, weather-dependent; continued rain is forecast to last during the rest of the week, to say nothing of how long it may take for flood waters to ebb and damage to be assessed.

In the meantime, approximately 1,400 flights into or out of those airports have been cancelled each day this week, including Wednesday, and several hundred pre-emptive cancellations marked for as late as Thursday as well, according to FlightAware.

If you were supposed to be on any of those flights — or are supposed to travel to or through basically any airport in the region — airlines are waiving change and cancellation fees for those flights. We’ve gathered up direct links to information on rebooking and travel waivers for the following airlines below:

Because the Houston airports serve as hubs for many airlines, particularly Southwest, the widespread cancellations are likely to have a lingering domino effect on other flights around the country, too. As always, check with your airline before heading to the airport if your travel plans may be affected.

Shipping

Shuttered airports don’t only affect passenger travel, of course; they also affect cargo planes, and so any packages or goods that have to go that way are probably not going anywhere any time soon.

But Houston is also one of the nation’s biggest, busiest port cities — and widespread flooding is no better for sea lanes than it is for airplanes.

Port Houston closed most of its facilities by noon local time on Friday, Aug. 25; all facilities are still closed as of today and it’s not clear when they may reopen. Ship pilots tell industry publication S&P Global Platts that the last outbound ships left the port on Thursday (Aug. 24).

That means anything that needs to go into or out of the U.S. via Houston isn’t going right now: Everything from petroleum to grain to cars to containers full of consumer goods is on hold, which will also likely have ripple effects in the days and weeks to come.