Real Answers from Real Pilots

Hello from Houston

Hey guys! I’m from Houston where EVERYWHERE is flooded. Trust me. The media does not do justice to the damage done here.

My question is how do Airlines handle situations like this when there is a natural disaster and the airport has to close for almost a week? Since Houston is a United hub, id love to hear from your Chris about what is going on within United right now. I heard the airport may open Thursday but I KNOW there will be some pilots that can’t get to the airport for safety reasons. What do you do with nearly 5 days of canceled passengers going in and out? With all the pilots that can’t get to the airport, will United offer premium pay (100-150%) to pilots from other domiciles to come down to help fly planes? Id love to hear anything that you guys know! Thanks!

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Cameron,

I’ll let Chris tell you what’s going on with UA right now. What I can tell you is these situations are logistical nightmares for the airline. Obviously compared to what people are going through themselves far outweighs the problems the airline is suffering but this will cost many airlines tons of revenue. Years ago when I was at ExpressJet flying for Continental I flew one leg to YOW when Hurricane Sandy hit. I was simply supposed to do a turn and ended up spending a week there. Airlines have operation centers and managers that specialize in these things and will take whatever steps they can to minimize the effects as best they can. However when you’re talking disasters of these proportions there’s only so much they can do. I’m certain they’re contacting off-duty pilots to see who can get where and offering premium pay where it can help but if pilots can’t get to IAH offering others 200% won’t get them in either. In short they’ll do the best they can, try and re-route when possible and hope the rain stops soon like everyone else.

Glad you’re ok.

Adam

Cameron,

United is flying a limit schedule into IAH the next few days. Most of the trips will be flown by pilots and FAs from other crew bases. I have not seen any premium pay offered for us yet. Lot of the support staff has been flown in from other stations. We had not left any airplanes there during the storm, so that aspect of the recovery is actually rather easy.

The passengers tend to resolve themselves. A lot of people that were flying were doing so for optional reasons, those trips obviously cancelled, thus reducing the need for the travel.

Chris