Houston Airport Flooding: Hobby & Bush Reopening

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Houston’s two airports – Hobby and Bush – were closed due to Hurricane Harvey flooding, but both airports opened at 4 p.m. on August 30 with limited service. They hope to be operating fully by the weekend.

However, on August 31, both airports reported they were still operating with only limited service.

Hobby and Bush wrote on August 31:

However, some of the bigger airlines are not operating out of Hobby until the weekend. “If you’re traveling out of Hobby, be advised that the bigger air carriers are expected to begin service on Saturday,” reported ABC13. That includes Southwest, which said on Twitter that it’s resuming service at noon on Saturday. See Southwest flight information here.

United is “operating a limited schedule,” though, reports CBS News. Check with your individual carrier to be certain. United wrote on Aug. 31, “Hurricane Harvey continues to affect flights to and from Texas and the Gulf Coast United flights to and from Texas and the Gulf Coast continue to be affected by Hurricane Harvey. There are now a limited number of flights operating between Houston and other major U.S. airports, but many flights to and from Houston continue to be canceled.” See details here, including on waivers.

The airports serve millions of people each year. “George Bush Intercontinental Airport served 42.9 million customers last year & offers service to more Mexican destinations than any other airport in the nation,” the airport’s Twitter page says.

As for Houston Hobby: “William P. Hobby Airport is Houston’s second largest airport, has 4 runways & serves more than 12 million passengers each year,” its Twitter page says.

The airports had suspended operations for days in part because roads around them were flooded. However, a viral photo showing submerged airplanes is fake. According to BGR.com, “The picture was actually made by digital artist Nickolay Lamm for search engine company StorageFront as part of a series showing the effect on rising sea levels.”

The above photo is fake, but what’s the real situation at the airports?

Here’s what you need to know:


Airport Closings

Both airports’ operations remained suspended the morning of August 30. However, they posted identical Facebook messages on August 30 that read:

Hobby Airport (and Bush) is planning on resuming flights today at 4 p.m. Here is what you need to know:

The Houston Airports plan to resume limited domestic airline passenger service TODAY at 4 p.m. following severe weather caused by Hurricane Harvey. We will attempt to begin a phased return to service, with full service expected by this weekend.

Contact your air carrier for specific flight status updates regarding your flight.

Only those with a ticket for a confirmed scheduled flight should come to the airport.

Many roads around the City of Houston are still unsafe for travel, therefore, we urge all passengers to take their time arriving to the airports and to solidify a safe route to and/or from our facilities.

You should check with your individual carrier about when it will resume flights. United, American, and Southwest had said previously they were planning to resume flights out of the two airports on Thursday, August 31.

On August 27, Bush airport had suspended commercial flights, writing, “All commercial flight operations have been stopped until further notice. IB/OB roads are closed due to flooding.” The airport clarified on August 28: “To clarify, flights into/out of the Houston Airports are limited to humanitarian flights and first responder support for Hurricane recovery.”

United had previously reported that Bush airport was closed until noon on Thursday and provided information about waivers.

On August 29, the airport was still closed. Bush airport wrote on Twitter: “Operations at Bush Airport are still suspended until further notice. Garages and ecopark lots are not flooded. IB & OB roads still closed.”

Bush airport noted, “This entire situation is unprecedented.”

Hobby Airport posted nearly identical messages on Twitter, writing on August 27, “All commercial operations at Hobby Airport have ceased until further notice. No flights in/out and roadways in/out are closed.”

A follow-up message on August 28 read, “Operations at Hobby are still suspended until further notice. Garages and ecopark lot are not flooded. IB & OB roads still closed.”

As with Bush, the roads to Hobby airport are flooded. “There is high water on the IB/OB roads surrounding both airports. Garages & ecopark lots have not exp’d flooding.”


Flooded Runaways

The real photos are almost as dramatic as the fake one. They show runways that looked like lakes.

The runway floods led to Hobby’s closing.

Part of the issue is that the roads to Hobby airport were flooded. The airports advise that you take great care in deciding whether or not to traverse Houston roads to or from the airports.

The roads around Bush airport were also flooded.

The water on the roads around Bush was starting to recede on August 30, however.

Hobby was also getting very heavy rainfall as was Bush.

However, on August 30, Bush airport posted that the sun was breaking through.

The ecopark lots at Bush were in good shape.

On August 27, Hobby airport wrote, “Airfield is closed due to standing water on runways. No inbound/outbound flights.”


Stranded Passengers & Cancellations

Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the airports.

“Over the last few days, hundreds of cancelled flights, and the shut down of flight operations at IAH have left hundreds of passengers stranded,” Bush airport wrote on Facebook on August 28. “We have been working hard to find a way to accommodate them and today Spirit Airlines was able to get a special emergency flight to evacuate 180 people from Houston to Detroit and Chicago so that they may re-book flights and continue their journeys. Thank you again to Spirit for stepping up in this unparalleled time of need!”

At Hobby, 500 Southwest Airlines passengers were stranded at the airport by the Hurricane. “Southwest Airlines airlifted around 500 of its customers out of closed Houston Hobby Airport Sunday,” CNN reported. “The Southwest customers were stranded inside the airport when the FAA closed it earlier Sunday morning. All roads to and from the airport were also closed. It was unclear how many others were stuck at the airport.”

Both Bush and Hobby airports said people should contact their airlines directly for rescheduling and fee waivers.

By August 26, there were more than 700 cancelled flights at Bush airport.

You can get more information on flight cancellations in Houston and waivers here: