(September 12, 2008) – As Hurricane Ike continues its path towards the Texas coast, airlines corresondingly have been altering flight plans. Updates have been received today from Continental Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
The most recent update from the National Weather Service indicates that Ike is moving in a northwesterly direction and is expected to continue this route with a turn toward the north on Saturday. Ike’s maximum sustained winds remain near 110 mph with higher gusts, making it a category two hurricane. It is predicted that by the time Hurricane Ike reaches the Texas coast on Saturday, it could be upgraded to a category three.
Continental Airlines has suspended operations at its Houston hub at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) through Saturday in anticipation of severe weather conditions caused by Hurricane Ike. Normal operations are planned at the Newark Liberty and Cleveland hubs.
Continental will not operate mainline jet flights at IAH through Saturday night. Continental has plans to reactivate the hub on Sunday morning, September 14, although some flights on Sunday will remain subject to cancellation.
Continental Express and Continental Connection regional airline operations have also been suspended at IAH through Saturday.
Continental employees from other domestic locations are positioned to fly into Houston to assist their co-workers in resuming operations at the IAH hub after the storm.
Due to the approach of Hurricane Ike, Continental has opened its off-site Business Continuity facility and transferred operations of the airline away from the headquarters building until the storm passes. The company plans for the center, located outside the city of Houston, to remain open until Sunday morning when operations resume at IAH. Once operations at IAH resume, travelers should check the status of their flight immediately before going to the airport.
Customers booked on flights to and from the affected region will be 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 suspended its operations to and from Corpus Christi International Airport, Houston Hobby Airport, and Valley International Airport in Harlingen today – Friday, September 12, as a result of the predicted severe weather from Hurricane Ike. Southwest Airlines also will suspend its Dallas Love Field operations from 10:30 a.m. CT to 5:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, September 13 – additional Dallas flights may be cancelled throughout the day depending on the changing weather conditions.
The airline’s ultimate plans to resume service to and from Corpus Christi, Harlingen, and Houston will depend upon the status of airport security personnel, facilities, and services after the storm passes.
Currently, Southwest flights at Harlingen and Corpus Christi have been cancelled through close of business Saturday, September 13, and Southwest flights at Houston Hobby have been cancelled through close of business Sunday, September 14. Southwest is closely monitoring Hurricane Ike and will announce any additional changes to its operation as the storm progresses.
Southwest strongly 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: www.southwest.com/content/travel_center/travel_advisory_0040.html?ref= wthr.
Southwest Airlines customers holding reservations for travel to and from Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas Love Field, Harlingen, Houston Hobby, 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.
Also, 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.
Southwest Airlines is doing its best to take care of customers’ air travel needs and to keep customers and employees safe during the storm. The airline invites customers to visit southwest.com to receive the latest information regarding a flight. Southwest also encourages ticketless travel customers to visit the Travel Center on southwest.com to cancel, change, and/or rebook their flight reservations. All ticketed customers may contact Reservations (1-800-435-9792) for additional assistance. For specific airport information including number of daily departures and number of employees, please visit http://www.swamedia.com/.