Now that Hurricane Ike has come and gone, airlines are beginning to take steps to resume back to normalcy. Continental and Southwest made the following announcements today.
Continental Airlines is preparing to resume mainline jet flights Monday, September 15 at its Houston hub at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) following the carrier’s suspension of operations Saturday and Sunday in Houston due to Hurricane Ike. The carrier plans to operate the vast majority of its schedule to and from IAH. The first flight is scheduled to arrive at 5:33 a.m. and the first departure is at 6:30 a.m. Continental Express and Continental Connection flights to and from the Houston hub will operate at a reduced level on Monday.
Continental employees from other domestic locations will fly into Houston to assist their co-workers in resuming operations at the IAH hub.
Normal operations will continue at the carrier’s New York and Cleveland hubs.
In a message earlier today to Continental’s 44,000 employees, nearly 20,000 of them Houston-based, Larry Kellner, Continental’s chairman and CEO said, “I know that my co-workers have gone through many sacrifices and hardships to try to return their personal lives to normalcy after Hurricane Ike, and they’ve helped each other and our customers in that effort. I want to thank them for all they’ve done. I also want to thank our customers, many of whom are sharing the same personal and professional challenges, for taking the time and effort to express their understanding and gratitude to our team. As always, make sure your personal safety and the safety of our co-workers and customers is your top priority.”
The Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security has informed Continental that the curfew currently in effect for the city does not apply to customers or employees driving or being driven to and from IAH.
The aftermath of Hurricane Ike may force some delays and additional cancellations of scheduled flights to or from the Houston hub on Monday, and there will be modified food service on some flights. Customers are encouraged to check the status of their flight at continental.com before going to the airport. Travelers without confirmed same-day reservations should not go to IAH as the airline will not be able to accommodate itinerary changes or standby customers at the airport.
Customers booked on flights to, from or through the Houston hub and in the affected region are permitted a one-time date or time change to their itinerary without penalty for rescheduled travel. If a flight has been canceled, a refund in the original form of payment may be requested. Complete details are available at continental.com. The fastest and most convenient way to change travel plans is via continental.com.
Customers should enter their confirmation number and last name in “Manage Reservations.” Customers may also call Continental Airlines reservations at 800-525-0280 or their travel agent.
Continental.com provides an overview of Continental operations as well as up-to-date information regarding the status of specific flights. Automated flight status information is also available at 800-784-4444.
Southwest Airlines plans to operate a limited schedule to and from Houston Hobby Airport on Tuesday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 17. The airline suspended its Houston Hobby operation on Friday, September 12 and plans to remain closed through the close of business Monday, September 15 due to the impact of Hurricane Ike. Since the storm’s passing, the airline continues to focus its attention on ensuring the safety of its Houston employees and customers and on assessing the condition of its airport facilities. The airline’s ultimate plans to resume a full schedule in Houston will depend upon the status of airport security personnel and facilities, as well as clear access to the airport and passenger services in the wake of the storm. As a reminder to those customers planning to travel to or from the area, the Houston Airport System recently announced the curfew in effect for the City of Houston does not apply to customers or employees driving or being driven to and from Houston Hobby Airport. Southwest also continues to operate a limited schedule at Corpus Christi International Airport and Valley International Airport in Harlingen. Please visit http://www.southwest.com/ for specific flight offerings to and from these airports.
Southwest still encourages travelers to contact Southwest Reservations at (800) 435-9792 or look for updated travel advisories at http://www.southwest.com/ before checking in online for a flight or proceeding to the airport. Customers can also copy and paste the following link into a web browser for direct access to Southwest’s travel advisory page: http://www.southwest.com/content/travel_center/travel_advisory_0040.html?ref= wthr.
Southwest continues to offer alternative options for those customers whose travel plans were disrupted by the storm. Southwest customers holding reservations for travel to and from Austin, Dallas Love Field or San Antonio from Noon Central Time on Wednesday, September 10, through the close of business Monday, September 15 may change their travel plans and rebook in their original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge. Southwest has extended the dates for Customers holding reservations to or from Corpus Christi, Harlingen, or Houston Hobby through Wednesday, September 17.
Customers holding reservations for a flight that is cancelled to and from Corpus Christi, Dallas Love, Harlingen, or Houston Hobby may request a refund for any unused ticket/travel itinerary.