Skip to content

What to do if you’re stranded in Houston because of Tropical Storm Imelda

Sept. 19, 2019
5 min read
What to do if you’re stranded in Houston because of Tropical Storm Imelda
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Update: Due to flooding, George Bush International Airport (IAH) closed today, Sept. 19, at 1:30 p.m. CDT and will reopen Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m. CDT. Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) remains open for inbound and outbound traffic.

Information from the FAA.

Tropical Storm Imelda is hitting the southeast Texas coastline hard. Some areas have received up to 35 inches of rain since the storm began, and hundreds of residents are stranded, waiting for rescue.

News outlets are urging Houstonians to stay home, citing the high risk of flash floods.

Image courtesy of Fox 26 Houston
Image courtesy of Fox 26 Houston

Travelers passing through Houston are struggling as well: Both George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Hobby Airport (HOU) issued safety warnings Thursday morning as high water levels continued to increase. Local news station ABC13 tweeted a photo of a city bus stranded in rising water between the five terminals at IAH.

Around 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday, IAH officials stated that roadways leading to Houston's largest airport were flooding. "If you have to pick someone up from the airport right now, delay your drive," airport officials urged via Twitter. "The airport is open, we have power and restaurants are open, so your passenger will be OK." The airport also reported that none of the parking garages have flooded.


By 2 p.m., flight delays from IAH were nearly four hours on average, with departure flights to San Francisco experiencing the longest delays around two hours on average. Flight delays to New York's La Guardia airport (LGA) averaged 49 minutes while flights to Dallas Love Field (DAL) are experiencing delays of one hour, 43 minutes on average due to volume.

Information from the FAA.

Houston's smaller airport has also been heavily affected by the water. "Hobby Airport is under a groundstop due to weather," read a 10 a.m. ET tweet from HOU. "Flights are delayed. If you must travel to the airport today, please check roadway conditions in advance."

Information from the FAA.

Hobby Airport is experiencing similar delay averages, according to the Federal Aviation Administration:

Sign up for our daily newsletter

What to do if you're stranded right now

If you're currently stuck at either IAH or Hobby, the most important thing to realize is that your safety (and that of the people picking you up) is more important than anything else. Please sit tight, charge up your electronic devices, and take a deep breath. Then take a look at the credit card you used to book your travel to see if you're eligible for trip protection benefits. Severe weather counts as a covered loss on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, and coverage kicks in as soon as you've been delayed for six hours beyond your original scheduled arrival time.

If you're trying to travel home to Houston, you're probably feeling similarly overwhelmed, and it can be tempting to look into car rental options from Dallas, Austin or San Antonio. It's a good idea to book your rental car reservation right now; available vehicles are going very quickly. Consider looking into rental car locations that are away from the airport as well; it may be worth an Uber or Lyft ride to find a car if everything has been booked.

Before you drive into Houston, make sure you check the roadways to ensure they're still open along the route you plan to take. Stock up on food, water and gas, and make sure your phone is fully charged because you almost certainly will hit delays. And always prioritize safety above all else — if the roads have water on them, the cliche applies: Turn around, don't drown.

This is where points might come in handy: If you find yourself having to pull off by the wayside on your way, you might be able to find yourself a nice place to stay on points that will be nicer than a cheap motel. There are a number of ways you could book a last-minute stay, whether it's with points from a hotel chain, using Hotels.com credit (or earning up to 24% back through CapitalOne), with HotelTonight.com or by using your credit card points to "erase" the charges for your hotel room.

If your upcoming travel plans route you through Houston in the coming days, keep an eye out for weather waivers issued by airlines. United, Delta, American, JetBlue and Frontier have all issued weather waivers for travel affected by Imelda, and other airlines may follow suit. If you have an independent travel insurance policy, now is a great time to read the fine print.

Featured image by Image courtesy of Fox 26 Houston
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023