Airlines, Airbnb, Others Offer Relief, Refunds, and More to Hurricane Harvey Victims

From free local stays to bonus miles for donations, here’s how the travel industry is responding to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

Airlines, Airbnb, Others Offer Relief, Refunds, and More to Hurricane Harvey Victims

Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston, Texas to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey.

Photo by the Texas National Guard/Flickr

Airlines, Airbnb, campgrounds, and other members of the travel and hospitality industries are doing what they can to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane, now Tropical Storm, Harvey.

We’ll update this list as more details arrive, but here is some timely information that may help you or someone you know in the area now.

Airlines offering help and encouraging donations

With many airports in the affected areas closed and most flights canceled, airlines have extended their travel waivers for customers ticketed on flights to, through, or from the affected areas.

The following airlines have posted travel updates and alerts: American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin America.

Many airlines are also undertaking relief efforts and offering bonus miles to encourage customers to support hurricane recovery efforts.

On Sunday, August 27, and Monday, August 28, United Airlines operated three wide-body flights into Houston (IAH) to bring in relief supplies and more than 100 employees to help with recovery efforts.

“We flew in bottled water, 400 amenity kits, pillows, blankets, carts full of soda and juice and snacks, and other provisions,” said United Airlines spokesman Charles Hobart, “all to help with needs on the ground and in the community.”

The airline is also making three million bonus miles available to customers who contribute to disaster relief organizations through the airline’s crowdrise page and matching the first $200,000 donations, said Hobart.

American Airlines has partnered with the American Red Cross to support relief efforts, and through September 24, AAdvantage members can earn 10 miles for every dollar donated to the Red Cross with a minimum $25 donation. Find details here.

Delta Air Lines sent a rescue flight to Houston-Bush Intercontinental Airport Monday afternoon to bring supplies and relief personnel to the area and to evacuate customers and employers.

And Alaska Airlines has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross and is offering additional support to relief organizations helping storm victims.

Airbnb has activated its Disaster Response Program

To help residents in Texas who are evacuating because of the storm find a temporary place to stay, Airbnb has activated its Disaster Response Program.

Through the program, which began in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, those in need of temporary accommodations—including emergency relief workers and volunteers—are able to connect with Airbnb hosts in the San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas areas who are willing to offer their homes free of charge from now through September 1. Airbnb is also waiving fees.

“We encourage hosts in safe, inland areas to aid in this effort by listing their available rooms or homes on the platform to help the growing number of evacuees,” said Kellie Bentz, head of Global Disaster Response and Relief, in a statement.

Hotel occupancy taxes suspended; campgrounds court evacuees

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has suspended all state and local hotel occupancy taxes in Texas for evacuees from designated disaster-prone areas and for documented relief workers through September 6.

The temporary tax relief also applies to occupancy taxes normally charged by campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts, and the Texas Association of Campground Owners is keeping a running list of campgrounds and RV parks with space available for evacuees. Check for updated listings.

Some hotels are offering discounts for evacuees and rescue crews as well. For example, Native Hostel, in Austin, is offering 50 percent off of bed stays for anyone displaced by Hurricane Harvey, as well as anyone coming into the region to aid in disaster relief.

Hotel Emma, in San Antonio, has reduced its rates by $100 through Labor Day to help hurricane evacuees. La Cantera Resort & Spa, also in San Antonio, is offering a special emergency rate of $119/night through this week for evacuees with proof of residency.

Happiest in an airport or unusual museum. Online contributor: USA Today, NBC News, CNBC, others.
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