Hurricane Beryl leads to numerous flight cancellations in Houston

Hurricane Beryl leads to numerous flight cancellations in Houston

Hurricane Beryl has caused significant disruptions in air travel, particularly in Houston, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights. As the storm made landfall in Texas, airlines struggled to manage the impact, resulting in approximately 3,500 flight delays, although not all were directly related to the hurricane. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport were among the most affected, with nearly 600 and 165 outbound flights canceled, respectively.

United Airlines experienced the highest number of cancellations, with 486 flights grounded, followed by Southwest Airlines with 346 cancellations. Beryl, which initially made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane with winds between 74 to 95 miles per hour, weakened to a tropical storm by Monday, with maximum wind speeds near 70 mph. Despite the downgrade, the storm still posed significant risks, including flooding and storm surges. Rainfall in the Houston area reached between 2 to 3 inches per hour, with the potential for up to 12 inches of rain and flash flooding.

The National Hurricane Center predicted that Beryl would move over eastern Texas on Monday and then pass through the Lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley by Tuesday and Wednesday. In response to the storm, United Airlines announced the suspension of flights out of Houston on Monday, with plans to waive change fees and fare differences for passengers needing to reschedule. United’s flights at IAH were suspended until at least 5 p.m. Eastern Time, with adjustments based on the storm’s progression. Similarly, American Airlines suspended operations at Houston airports until about 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, with plans to evaluate conditions for potential resumption of services.

Southwest Airlines also canceled flights at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, William P. Hobby Airport, and Corpus Christi International Airport through noon on Monday. The airline anticipated further schedule changes throughout the day and advised customers to check their flight status for updates.

The storm’s impact extended beyond Houston, affecting travelers across Texas and neighboring states. At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field, travelers returning to Houston faced cancellations and delays. Monica Valdez, a Houston resident, described the chaos, noting that many people were either stuck in other states or driving back due to flight disruptions.

FlightAware reported that Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport led the nation in canceled flights, with over 2,300 cancellations by Monday night. Hobby Airport saw more than 300 cancellations by noon. By Tuesday morning, nearly 300 flights were canceled at Bush Intercontinental Airport, while Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport experienced 29 cancellations.

United Airlines led the nation in cancellations, with over 500 flights grounded on Monday. Southwest Airlines followed closely with about 360 cancellations. Mia Aquirre, a student at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, was among those affected, expressing concerns about missing classes due to the delays.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport experienced nearly 1,000 delays and over 100 cancellations by Monday night, while Dallas Love Field had over 100 delays and more than 30 cancellations. Airlines, including Delta, American, Southwest, United, Spirit, JetBlue, and Frontier, issued travel alerts and waived change fees for affected passengers.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported record-breaking travel volumes this summer, with over three million passengers screened on Sunday, July 7, surpassing previous records. TSA Administrator David Pekoske noted that the summer travel season, particularly around the Independence Day holiday, was expected to be the busiest ever.

Hurricane Beryl, the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record, had previously caused devastation in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, resulting in at least 11 deaths. The storm weakened but regained strength over the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall near Houston.

Acting Governor Patrick declared 120 counties as disaster areas in anticipation of the storm, warning of its potential deadly impact. School districts, including the largest in Houston, announced closures, and officials ordered evacuations in several coastal towns. The closure of major oil-shipping ports around Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Houston in preparation for the storm disrupted crude oil exports, refinery shipments, and motor fuel distribution.

Houston Airports resumed operations at a reduced capacity on Tuesday, with many workers dealing with the storm’s aftermath, including power outages and debris. Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport were operational but in recovery mode, with extended TSA and check-in lines, limited concessions, and services due to decreased staff.

Airlines worked to fly in additional staff to manage ticket and rebooking counters and provide customer service. United Airlines, which operates a terminal at IAH, encouraged customers to check their flight status and offered travel waivers. Southwest Airlines also resumed operations at IAH and Hobby, issuing a travel advisory for affected areas.

Delta Airlines reported 58 canceled flights at IAH and only five at Hobby, with operations resuming as normal. The airline increased the number of seats on its planes to accommodate affected passengers and offered travel waivers for canceled flights.

Houston Airports continued to assess and make repairs, with at least one escalator and a breakroom in need of repair. The situation remained fluid as airlines and airport authorities worked to restore normal operations and assist stranded travelers.

Source: CBS News, FlightAware, National Hurricane Center, TSA, United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines

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