AA's Rescue Flight Lifts Hurricane Harvey Evacuees to Dallas
Although Hurricane Harvey has dissipated, the effects are still being felt across eastern Texas and Louisiana and the area is still in need of humanitarian efforts and relief operations. On Friday September 1, nearly a week after Harvey's initial landfall in Texas, American Airlines flew a MD-80 (registration N7548A) into Beaumont, Texas (BPT) to evacuate 134 Hurricane Harvey evacuees to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The flight operated at AA Flight #9490 with five crew.
This isn't the first "rescue" flight run out of the area: Last week, we heard from one of the 486 passengers on Southwest's airlift flights out of the closed Houston Hobby airport (HOU). In the midst of the disaster, Spirit also ran two similar flights, lifting 189 stranded passengers from Houston (IAH) to Chicago and Detroit (DTW) and United delivered 272 passengers from IAH to Chicago (ORD).
While those operations rescued passengers stranded at Houston airports, American Airlines' operation served to move hurricane evacuees from shelters in the Beaumont area to better-equipped ones in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. According to an American Airlines press release, "many of the 134 passengers were in compromised health," so it seems local shelters were struggling to adequately serve these evacuees.
With BPT airport operations down due to the storm damage, much of the operation seemed to be manual. Crew in Beaumont unloaded supplies from the aircraft by hand and unloaded passenger bags and supplies from buses before loading them onto the aircraft. The MD-80 was an ideal aircraft choice for this operation; the rear staircase was utilized to load the special-needs passengers from the tarmac onto the aircraft.
While this flight came at the request of the state of Texas, per AA, the airline isn't seeking compensation for this flight; instead, they are "donating" this flight as part of its ongoing Hurricane Harvey recovery assistance. In addition, American Airlines is committed to its annual $1 million donation to the Red Cross’s Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). AA employees contributed $130,000 to an employee assistance fund and the airline matched it with a $130,000 donation to this "Family Fund."
American Airlines continues to promote donations to the American Red Cross and over 4,400 donors have stepped up to the challenge, contributing nearly $1 million through AA's donation page. Through September 24, AA is enticing donations by paying 10x AAdvantage miles per dollar donated. At TPG current valuations, that's another ~$138,000 that AA has already indirectly donated to the cause.
American Airlines is far from the only airline providing support in wake of Hurricane Harvey and we highlighted other airlines' contributions this week. To give to Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, here are ways to help.