Hurricanes to Continue Disrupting Flights Over Labor Day, Zika in U.S.

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More stormy weather lies ahead as the United States gears up for a busy Labor Day travel weekend — here’s everything to keep on your radar this morning. 

Hurricane Hermine made landfall early this morning as a Category 1 storm, CNN reports, making it the first hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Wilma 11 years ago. The storm made landfall near where the state’s peninsula meets the panhandle before weakening into a tropical storm. While all hurricane watches and warnings have been dropped, tropical storm warnings remain for North Carolina, Georgia and parts of the Florida Gulf Coast

According to USA Today, the storm could disrupt flights through the weekend, as it is forecast to move toward the mid-Atlantic coast by Sunday, which could spell trouble for hub airports in New York and Philadelphia. 110 flights have been cancelled as of 8:20 a.m. this morning, particularly in Jacksonville, Savannah, Gainesville and Charleston

But that’s not all…fresh off of dealing with Hurricane Madeline, Hawaii is gearing up for the impact of Hurricane Lester. ABC News reports that the Category 3 storm is forecast to pass just north of the islands over the weekend, although the center is not expected to make landfall. If the storm veers south, though, it could have a much greater impact. Either way, expect heavy rains and tropical storm- or hurricane-force winds in the eastern part of the state starting Friday night. 

All this is happening, of course, over Labor Day, and it’s set to be a busy one: According to another ABC News report, Airlines for America (A4A) is forecasting 2.23 million air travelers this weekend, up 4 percent from a year ago. The jump is partly due to air fares, which are lower than in previous years due to falling oil prices. 

Airline Travel Waivers

In response to the storms major airlines have issued travel waivers. Here’s a rundown:

American Airlines has issued waivers for travel through the following airports: 

Salisbury / Ocean City, Maryland (SBY)
Greenville, North Carolina (PGV)
New Bern, North Carolina (EWN)
Richlands, North Carolina (OAJ)
Newport News, Virginia (PHF)
Norfolk, Virginia (ORF)
Richmond, Virginia (RIC)

American said it will waive a one-time ticketing fee for changes for travelers booked to, from or through the above airports who purchased their tickets by September 2 for travel through September 4. Travel must take place through September 8. 

  • Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Florida (VPS)
  • Gainesville, Florida (GNV)
  • Jacksonville, Florida (JAX)
  • Pensacola, Florida (PNS)
  • Sarasota, Florida (SRQ)
  • Tallahassee, Florida (TLH)
  • Tampa, Florida (TPA)
  • Savannah, Georgia (SAV)
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina (FAY)
  • Wilmington, North Carolina (ILM)
  • Charleston, South Carolina (CHS)
  • Florence, South Carolina (FLO)
  • Columbia, South Carolina (CAE)
  • Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (HHH)
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR)

Customers traveling through the above airports who had purchased a ticket by August 30 and are scheduled for travel through September 3 can have their travel change fee waived for travel through September 6. 

  • Hilo, Hawaii (ITO)
  • Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL)
  • Kahului, Maui, Hawaii (OGG)
  • Kona, Hawaii (KOA)
  • Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii (LIH)

Travelers flying through the above airports who purchased their ticket by August 31 for travel September 3 - 4 can have their travel change fee waived when rescheduling travel through September 7. Travelers who purchased their ticket by August 30 for travel through September 1 can reschedule through September 6. 

JetBlue has issued a travel agent waiver code for flights departing today through September 3 to/from the following airports:

  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Daytona Beach, FL (DAB)
  • Fort Myers, FL (RSW)
  • Jacksonville, FL (JAX)
  • Orlando, FL (MCO)
  • Sarasota, FL (SRQ)
  • Savannah/Hilton Head, GA (SAV)
  • Tampa, FL (TPA)

Customers may rebook their flights for travel through Friday, September 9 prior to the departure of their originally scheduled flight. Customers with cancelled flights may opt for a refund. Travel must have been booked on or before August 30. 

For Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL); Kahului, Maui, Hawaii (OGG); Kona, Hawaii (KOA); and Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii (LIH), Delta is offering travelers a refund for the unused portion of their ticket if their flight is canceled or delayed 90 minutes or more. Customers may also make a one-time change without fee. Travel must be September 3 - 4 for tickets reissued on or before September 7 with travel to begin no later than September 7. Customers traveling today to, from or through Kahului, HI (OGG) or Kona, HI (KOA), can get a refund under the same conditions or rebook travel on or before September 6 for travel to begin no later than September 6. 

In the southeastern U.S., Delta is offering the same deal for travel September 1 - 3 for tickets reissued on or before September 6 with travel to begin no later than September 6. The following airports are affected: 

  • Brunswick, GA (BQK)
  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Destin Ft. Walton Beach, FL (VPS)
  • Gainesville, FL (GNV)
  • Jacksonville, FL (JAX)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
  • Panama City, FL (ECP)
  • Pensacola, FL (PNS)
  • Sarasota, FL (SRQ)
  • Savannah, GA (SAV)
  • Tallahassee, FL (TLH)
  • Tampa, FL (TPA)
  • Valdosta, GA (VLD)
  • Wilmington, NC (ILM)

United Airlines has issued its own travel waiver for both storms, as described in the table below: 

Storm Travel to/from/through Original travel date(s) Additional Info
Hurricane Hermine
  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Charlotte, NC (CLT)
  • Columbia, SC (CAE)
  • Fayetteville, NC (FAY)
  • Fort Walton Beach, FL (VPS)
  • Jacksonville, FL (JAX)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
  • Panama City, FL (ECP)
  • Pensacola, FL (PNS)
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU)
  • Sarasota, FL (SRQ)
  • Savannah, GA (SAV)
  • Tampa, FL (TPA)
September 1 - 3 The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new flights departing on or before September 6, 2016, as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​
Hurricane Lester
  • Hilo, HI (ITO)
  • Honolulu, HI (HNL)
  • Kahului, HI (OGG)
  • Kona, HI (KOA)
  • Lihue, HI (LIH)
September 3 - 4 The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new flights departing on or before September 7, 2016, as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

For Southwest Airlines, customers traveling through September 3 can reschedule their flights to/from/through the following airports:

  • Ft. Myers (RSW)
  • Jacksonville (JAX)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Panama City Beach (ECP)
  • Tampa (TPA)

As we reported previously, Island Air and Hawaiian Airlines have also agreed to waive change fees and fare differences in response to the storms. Additionally, Norwegian Cruise Line modified the itinerary of Pride of America

In Case You Missed It…U.S. Mosquitoes Have Zika

Yesterday afternoon U.S. officials reported finding the Zika virus in U.S. mosquitos for the first time. The infected mosquitos were captured in Miami Beach, an area that had previously been identified as having local transmission of the virus. 

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