Houston Airports Closed Until Further Notice; Airlines Offering Miles For Relief Fund Contributions

As Hurricane Harvey continues to dump water, we’re seeing massive flooding throughout Houston. For those of you not familiar with the landscape, Houston covers a massive geographic area, much of it flat and in low-lying coastal plains (check out this thread for some fascinating insights into the civil engineering plans in Houston, including how the roadways are intentionally designed to flood).

Given the tremendous amount of water, the local infrastructure obviously can’t keep up. Roads are impassible in many districts, and the rain keeps coming. Google has a map showing the public alerts and evacuation resources, which is also useful to get a sense of the scope of the damaged areas.

Airports closed, thousands of flights canceled

Unsurprisingly under the circumstances, both Houston airports have suspended operations indefinitely (meaning at least until Thursday).

Southwest airlifted ~500 passengers who had been stranded at the airport on Sunday, but otherwise the airports are closed to all non-emergency traffic.

In light of that, airlines have obviously expanded and updated their travel waivers. In addition to the bulletins posted by North American carriers last week, international airlines serving Houston have updated their change policies, including Emirates:


Air China:


If your airline doesn’t have a clearly-posted Hurricane Harvey policy on their website, you’ll want to call to ask what your options are, and what fees are being waived. While airlines don’t typically waive fees for “weather” issues, they almost always have provisions for massive operation-disrupting storms.

For non-essential travel to Houston, you’ll obviously want to delay or even cancel the trip. If you were merely transiting Houston, your airline should be able to re-route you — even if that means flying on a partner carrier.

Rather than rehashing them here, please see my earlier post on how to manage your travel during weather events.

Earn miles for charitable contributions 

The rescue operation is massive, and the clean-up efforts from Harvey will realistically take years. Even those with flood insurance will likely be displaced for weeks or months, and with the way insurance works in the U.S., some may not receive payouts on their claims for months or possibly even years.

So assistance in the interim will be supplemented by non-profit organizations. And some airlines are partnering with charities to offer bonus miles for Harvey relief efforts. Via Mommy Points:

United MileagePlus + Crowdrise

United will match the first $100,000 raised through this campaign and United MileagePlus members who donate a minimum of $50 to any one of their four charity partners will earn bonus miles.

  • Donate $50-$99 USD and receive 250 MileagePlus bonus award miles
  • Donate $100- $249 USD and receive 500 bonus miles
  • Donate $250 USD or more will receive 1,000 bonus award miles

Donation must be made between August 26 – September 15, 2017 to qualify for the bonus miles.

American AAdvantage + American Red Cross

From August 24, 2017 through September 24, 2017, with a minimum $25 donation, AAdvantage members can earn 10 miles for every dollar donated.

Mileage will appear on mileage statements within 30 days of donations being made and must be made through this website link.

So if you’re feeling compelled to make a financial contribution, it could be nice to earn some extra miles along the way.

Bottom line

The situation in Houston is very hour-by-hour still. We don’t have firm word yet on when flight operations will resume, but it seems it will be later in the week at best. If you have flights through Houston you should change them. And if you have travel planned to Houston in the next week or so, and aren’t an emergency responder, you should probably cancel the trip.

And if you’re in the Houston area, please stay safe!


  1. Until such time as the TX congressional delegation issues a formal apology to the NY, NJ and CT congressional delegations for voting against Sandy recovery funds, I will not lift a finger to help TX. They made their bed, they can lie it.

  2. Since all the major roadways are flooded at the moment, keeping airports open for commercial operations may not have made any sense because no one would be able to come to / leave from the airports.

    P.S. With JJ Watt already donating $100,000 on his own, I surely hope United isn’t going to stop at $100,000 themselves. They are still the hometown airline even though they are not headquartered here anymore.

  3. I think this is the best chance for republicans to show how their neighbor helps neighbor and no need for large government works? We are watching in awe! Let the gun slingers protect their own property, why rely on national guard?

  4. “UA and AA should donate their own cash instead of begging.”

    And hopefully, people won’t have to be swayed by earning points to donate to relief efforts. Though I imagine some people are probably already figuring out how to work this system…

  5. @Ryan, I think that little kid I saw on TV rescued from his house and now without anything but the wet clothes on his back probably didn’t have a say in the Sandy Recovery Funds vote. Do what you wish, but I guarantee you that Ted Cruz isn’t worried about finding a dry place to sleep right now.

  6. @Ryan – You don’t need to bother lifting your finger. Mexico has stepped in and offered to help. A side benefit is it won’t feel so slimy accepting it seeing as how the Mexican politicians are less corrupt than the ones in NY and NJ. Clearly their citizens are more compassionate as well.

  7. The displaced relocated by Southwest really lucked out !
    They could have been airlifted in United Basic Economy.

  8. Honestly, we don’t need the feds. Private boats are doing most of the work, as they always do down here. We can take care of ourselves quite well.

    Just don’t accept our tax money, either, or impose costs on us from the federal level and we’ll take that trade.

  9. @Mark F. the people of TX voted for their Congressional representatives. They own their actions.

    @dave when NY, NJ and CT were in their time of need, TX said “up yours”. Time to return the favor. Let ’em drown.

  10. “seeing as how the Mexican politicians are less corrupt than the ones in NY and NJ”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha no.

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