Airports Begin to Reopen After Irma; Seats Added for Evacuation

Delta aircraft
Delta has added 5,000 seats to help customers escape the storm.

Some Caribbean airports are beginning to reopen following Hurricane Irma, with more airlines adding seats to help customers who are still in the path of the storm.

Antiguas V.C. Bird International Airport reopened the afternoon of September 6, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, as did St. Kitts Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport. The Vance W. Amory International Airport in Nevis is also open.

The airport in Anguilla received severe damage, although the airports runway and most roads leading to the airport have been cleared of debris. Authorities are still working to clear the runway of St. Maartens Princess Juliana International Airport, which also saw extensive damage to its roof and building. In the British Virgin Islands, which saw extensive damage from the storm, the airport remains operational but the tower has been compromised.

In the Bahamas, Lynden Pindling International Airport in New Providence, as well as airports in Inagua, Ragged Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguna, Long Island, Rum Cay, Exuma & the Cays, San Salvador, Cat Island and Eleuthera, all closed Thursday afternoon. On Friday, the following airports will close at varying times throughout the day: Andros, Congo Town & Mangrove Cay (11 a.m. closure); Grand Bahama (noon closure); Andros, Fresh Creek and San Andros (4 p.m. closure); The Abacos, Berry Islands and Bimini (sunset closure).

Airline Updates

Delta reports that it is adding seats and flights throughout Florida, where the storm is expected to hit Sunday morning, to help customers leave. Since Wednesday the airline has added more than 5,000 extra seats and 24 extra flights in Florida, the Caribbean and the Bahamas. 350 flights have been canceled, with more expected along the Gulf Coast. The airline said it plans to restart operations in south Florida Monday, pending an evaluation of the facilities.

Interjet likewise reports that it is canceling a number of international flights between Mexico and Florida.

The following airlines have issued change waivers:

American Airlines customers flying through Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands through September 9 can rebook travel through September 30; in Cuba and the Bahamas through September 12 can rebook through September 30; and through the southeastern United States and Florida through September 17 can rebook through September 30.

United Airlines customers flying through the Bahamas, Cuba and the Dominican Republic through September 9 can rebook through September 17. Customers flying through Florida through September 17 can rebook through September 30.

Delta customers flying through affected airports through September 9 can rebook through September 12, with rebooked travel to begin no later than that date.

Customers on Southwest Airlines flying through affected airports can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel. To provide additional flexibility, the airline is also providing customers at the following airports the ability to rebook to Atlanta (ATL) or Birmingham (BHM) if their original travel dates are between the dates listed below:

  • Charleston (CHS) - effective Thursday, September 7, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Fort Myers (RSW) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Havana (HAV) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Jacksonville (JAX) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Nassau (NAS) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Orlando (MCO) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Punta Cana (PUJ) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • San Juan (SJU) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • Tampa (TPA) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17
  • West Palm Beach (PBI) - effective Tuesday, September 5, thru Sunday, September 17

Southwest is encouraging customers planning to fly to Atlanta or Birmingham to confirm a hotel reservation beforehand, as space is limited.

JetBlue customers flying to the Caribbean through September 9, and to Charleston, Savannah and Florida through September 11, can rebook through September 27.

Finally, Aeromexico is waiving change fees for customers flying through September 9 to Havana and Santo Domingo, for rebooked travel through September 12. Customers flying through Miami and Orlando through September 10 can rebook through September 14.

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