Airlines and hotels step up to help travelers and Hurricane Harvey victims

Brittany Jones-Cooper
Reporter
Evacuees wade down a flooded section of Interstate 610 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast over the weekend, causing widespread flooding and devastation in the region.

Due to flooding and severe weather, flights in and out of Houston’s William P Hobby (HOU) and Bush International (IAH) airports have been grounded until further notice.

According to FlightAware, a flight tracking site, IAH canceled 1,123 flights on Monday, and HOU canceled 339. Looking ahead, 550 flights arriving and departing from the two airports have already been canceled for Tuesday.

Parts of Houston have received more than 30 inches of rain since Thursday, and the National Weather Service expects Harvey to drop even more rain on Texas and Louisiana during the week. In other words, travel in, out or through the region will likely remain at a standstill.

Need to change a flight?

Every airline is allowing passengers with flights to and from specific airports in the region to alter their itineraries free of charge.

On United (UAL), travelers flying through nine Texas and five Louisiana airports can receive a travel waiver if their flight departs between Aug. 25 and Sept. 13. For these flights, the $150 change fee will be waived.

American Airlines (AAL) is also waiving its $150 change fee for flights into and out of 16 airports in Texas and Louisiana.

Delta (DAL) doesn’t fly to as many airports in the region, but they are still helping passengers alter their travel plans. If you have a flight into Houston, Austin-Bergstrom International (AUS) or San Antonio International Airport (SAT), between Aug. 25 and Sept. 4, you can cancel your flight or rebook your ticket for free.

Southwest (LUV) passengers can change their reservations for flights into and out of Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston, Harlingen and San Antonio for free. The waiver is applicable for Aug. 24 to Sept. 1.

What the travel industry is doing to help

Airbnb provides accommodations for Hurricane Harvey evacuees.

Airbnb is offering free “urgent accommodations” for Hurricane Harvey evacuees. Those in need of a place to stay can scroll through options in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. For those wishing to open up their homes, Airbnb has an option for hosts to list their rooms or homes for those who are displaced.

To help raise money for recovering efforts, United will provide up to 3 million bonus miles to MileagePlus members who donate to hurricane relief organizations. The company will also match the first $100,000 raised.

Here’s how it works.

  •      Donate $50-$99 and you can earn 250 bonus miles.
  •      Donate $100-$249 and earn 500 bonus miles.
  •      Donate $250 or more and earn 1,000 bonus miles.

Donations must be made to the American Red Cross, Americares, Airlink or Operation USA through United’s fundraising page.

Several hotels in Texas are also offering lower rates to Harvey evacuees. In San Antonio, La Cantera Resort and Spa offered hurricane victims a special rate of $119. Those rooms have since sold out. The St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio is offering rooms at a discounted rate of $125 a night. Proof of residency must be shown to secure the lower rate.

And finally, U-Haul is offering 30 days of free self-storage for residents impacted by Harvey. As people continue to evacuate, six U-Haul companies in Texas will provide free U-Box containers, which offer dry storage and can be locked for security.

Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. 

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