Hurricane Sandy affecting Houston air traffic

October 29, 2012 8:26:54 PM PDT
Thousands of flights have already been canceled because of Hurricane Sandy and for some folks, they may not get to their destinations for several days.

Air travel is being impacted significantly already. A least 100 flights out of Bush and Hobby airports have been canceled already and many more cancellations could be made over the next few days.

Though the skies are crystal clear over Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, the impact of Sandy's imminent arrival along the East Coast is being felt here.

"We think tomorrow's gonna be worse than today," said traveler Karen Bates.

"Enjoyed our stay in Houston, but ready to go home," said Chuck Bates.

Many travelers found flight cancellations here -- 68 departures and 67 arrivals. Chuck and Karen Bates are trying desperately to get home to Pittsburgh before Sandy hits. He's a fire chief and is needed to deal with the emergency. They found tickets to Cincinnati and plan to drive from there.

"Mother hen wants to be there," said Chuck.

It's not any easier to travel by track. Amtrak reports service canceled to the northeast corridor.

"They said they can't assure me of when I'll be able to get a train," said traveler Eddie Padrick.

Hurricane supplies will be in high demand back east. Houston area home improvement stores are planning to send goods to stores in the regions if needed. Things like generators, tarps, flashlights and gloves. That could mean temporary shortages here.

"It's gonna be very short-lived. We will anticipate that and prepare for it," said Cindy Clotheir with Home Depot.

But that will be moved in after Sandy hits. Better not to add to the losses by getting them there before stores say. As for all those trying to travel east, they too realize it's maybe safer not to be able to make it to their destinations today.

Always a good idea in circumstances like this to check with your airline before heading to the airport.

Earlier Monday

Hurricane Sandy is causing a nightmare for air travelers across the country. Thousands of flights have been grounded as the massive storm moves up the East Coast.

Due to Sandy, more than 100 flights have been canceled out of Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports -- about 63 departures and 63 arrivals out of IAH, and for Hobby approximately 20 canceled flights. Northeast airports are planning operational shutdowns by noon today so these numbers will go up.

The flight boards say it all. Whether your destination was Baltimore or Newark, you were out of luck at IAH. Dozens of cancellations are popping up, but the airport is quiet. Passengers knew that thousands of flights were canceled, so many northeast-bound travelers didn't bother showing up. But this group did.

"We were booked to leave to go to Bermuda today, but after trying to get through on the internet and trying to use the phone, we decided to come to the airport and talk to a human being," said Al Seymour, Sr.

He and a friend brought their sons from Bermuda all the way to Houston to see the Houston air show. They will end up seeing a lot more of Houston as their flight to Newark was canceled. And just how long they're stuck here is shocking.

"As of right now, it's Saturday so that is a week and a day," Seymour, Sr. said.

He is a TB news director in Bermuda. His boss is not happy, but the two teens in the group are not exactly complaining.

"I'm out of school so I'm happy," said Gianni De Silva.

"I guess. It's alright. I like it out here," said Al Seymour, Jr. when we asked him if he was anxious to get back to school.

On the flip side, we found a woman who ended up with a better situation because of Sandy.

"This is OK," said Janice Twidal.

Her original flight plan to England included a stop in Washington D.C., then a second flight to Manchester. But since D.C. is not an option, she now has a direct flight to Heathrow.

"Now I'm going just one flight from here to London, England so that's fine," Twidal said. "It was better."

The Houston Airport System has posted a warning on its website listing almost 30 destinations with cancellations and it's not just New York that's affected. Places like Pittsburgh, Philly, Baltimore and many others are also scrapped.

United says its customers ticketed on flights to, from or through affected cities from October 28 through October 31 may reschedule their itineraries for travel through November 4 with a one-time date or time change, and the airline will waive the $150 change fees.

For flights that are canceled or delayed more than two hours, customers may even request refunds to the original form of payment. Airlines are encouraging passengers to stay away from the airport and call and not to show up and encounter the misery these folks are feeling.

"It really it changes your perspective I thought it would be several hours of waiting. If I had only known," said stranded Dallas passenger Jeff Brooker.

Most airlines are suggesting passengers try to show up as early as they can every day to try to get on a flight that may open up. Circumventing the storm means other airports will be busy.

Check your flight before heading out.


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