United customers are scurrying to change their travel planes as Hurricane Harvey causes extensive flooding and damage in southeast Texas. United has granted travel waivers for flight changes through September 11, 2017. Bloomberg
Skift Take: It will take United, Southwest and other airlines several days or perhaps even longer to get their schedules back in order once the destructive and lingering storm clears out. In addition to the human tragedy in southeast Texas, Hurricane Harvey will have a financial impact on airlines, and the Texas travel and tourism industry, as well.
— Dennis Schaal
United Continental Holdings Inc. suspended its entire regional operation and all mainland flights out of Houston to non-hub airports around the country as Hurricane Harvey lashed southeast Texas, the airline said in a statement Saturday.
More than 1,000 flights had been canceled and another 1,259 delayed nationwide as of 3:04 p.m. Eastern time Saturday, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.
[Skift Editor’s Note: Published reports said airlines have cancelled thousands of flights since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas Friday. United is allowing customers traveling through 10 Texas airports, including George Bush International Airport in Houston, to change their travel plans, within certain parameters, without change fees. The waiver period had initially been slated to end August 29 but has been extended for new flights through September 11.]
United’s cancellations, including the entire United Express operation, came after the airline on Friday suspended operations at Corpus Christi, McAllen-Miller and Valley International airports in Texas. United is more affected than other carriers because of reliance on its Houston hub.
“We plan to continue operating flights from Houston to our hubs and most international destinations,” Charles Hobart, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement. He said the airline extended its travel waiver to provide travelers with more flexibility.
Southwest Airlines Co. is operating at about half of its usual schedule at Houston’s Hobby airport, and those in Austin and San Antonio, this weekend. A customer travel advisory offering added flexibility to flight changes for Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston-Hobby, and San Antonio is in effect through Sept. 1, according to Melissa Ford, a spokeswoman for the airline.
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