Houston Airports Will Open at 4 p.m. Wednesday

Limited domestic flights from both Houston airports will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Limited domestic flights from both Houston airports will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Photo by Katie Haugland Bowen

After thousands of delays and hundreds of stranded travelers, both Houston airports will open at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

In a statement online, George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports explained that a "phased return to service" will begin at 4 p.m. with limited domestic flights. Both airports expect to return to full operations by the weekend. Houston Airports spokesman Bill Begley warned Wednesday morning that it would take time for the airports to return to full service. Even with the airports reopening, many airlines had already scrapped flights for Thursday and Friday.

The airports, which had been affected by flooded runways and the closures of roads to and from the complexes, both closed Sunday. Since Monday, IAH had canceled more than 3,300 flights, while Hobby called off 997, according to the flight-tracking Service FlightAware.

The airports were two of the many spots around the city affected by flooding over the past several days, as Hobby's runways were inundated with standing water and roads to and from IAH were closed because of flooding. Ecopark lots and airport garages at both locations, though, escaped any flooding, according to Begley, with IAH even posting a video of its lots on the airport's Twitter account.

Flooding in the area was bad enough that a fake photo showing planes completely submerged at Hobby began making the rounds online.

Some private lots didn't fare as well. The lot for The Parking Spot — the company recognizable for its black and yellow polka-dotted transportation buses — at 8707 Airport Boulevard was flooded. If your car was parked there, "it is safe to assume that it was affected by the water levels," the company wrote in a post on its website. Calls to The Parking Spot on Wednesday went unanswered.

At one point this weekend, 900 passengers were stranded at one of the two Houston airports, Begley said.  On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration approved a round of emergency evacuation flights, with airlines transporting passengers to other airports across the United States. On Sunday, Southwest used five planes to take 500 passengers to Dallas Love Field and United transferred 272 people to Chicago.
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Joseph Fanelli is a reporting fellow at the Houston Press with an interest in education, crime and eccentric people everywhere.