A Southwest Airlines ferry flight heads over the Houston area en-route to Hobby. Photo by Stephen M. KellerMy husband and I, along with two of our friends, were among the many stranded at Houston Hobby Airport in the midst of the rain and floods of Hurricane Harvey. Most people ask, "Why did they fly you into Houston if they knew the hurricane was coming?" Well, the weather reports at the time said the rain would not arrive for at least two more hours, which would give Southwest time to get the last flights out before the airport shut down. However, Harvey had other plans. Once the storm hit, it was apparent no one would be taking off that night. I have never seen so much rain or the lightning and tornadoes that accompanied it.
Southwest Airlines Houston-based flight crews arrive Houston Hobby Airport after being stuck in other cities during Hurricane Harvey on Friday, September 1, 2017. In lieu of a water cannon arch, the ground ops supervisors made a salute with a wall of belt loaders. Photo by Stephen M. KellerThe Southwest Employees, stranded along with us, made every effort to keep us comfortable. They emptied snacks, soda, and water off of the planes and passed them out continually. The few airport Employees that did not make it out before the storm hit maintained cheerful demeanors as they worked endless hours. We were provided free donuts and coffee in the morning and given a free lunch. At this point, we were beginning to worry that we would spend days in the airport, but Southwest had been working around the clock to get us out of Houston. When a brief break in the heavy rain occurred around mid-afternoon on Saturday, they were ready.
Southwest Airlines Houston-based flight crews travel back to Houston Hobby Airport after being stuck in other cities during Hurricane Harvey on Friday, September 1, 2017. Photo by Stephen M. KellerSouthwest managed to evacuate 500-600 Passengers within that brief window of time. Although the situation was tense, every Employee and Crew Member remained professional and cheerful. Obviously spending a night in an airport is never a good time, but thanks to Southwest it was not the nightmare it could have been. They then went on to refund us for our original flight and provided us with vouchers for a future flight just to make sure their Passengers remained happy Customers. Considering the reports I have read on experiences on other airlines, I believe the industry should be taking Leadership lessons from Southwest!