As the likelihood of Hurricane Irma hitting Florida continues to grow, airlines are taking additional measures to prepare for the storm.
JetBlue has announced that it is offering its remaining seats for travelers looking to escape the hurricane’s path at a reduced rate of $99 - $159, including government taxes. However, those seats are predominantly sold out, the airline warned.
Business Insider reports that American Airlines is also capping the price of tickets out of Florida at $99 for MainCabin seats on direct, single leg flights out of the state although, again, space is limited. Tickets must be sold through September 10 for travel until September 13.
That follows reports of airlines charging customers attempting to fly out of affected areas ahead of the storm as much as 10 times the normal airfare, The Miami Herald reports. One customer reported prices as high as $3,000 per person for domestic flights.
Air Canada reports that it has added 24 additional flights to bring customers home early from the Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Samana), Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Orlando), Cuba (Varadero, Holguin, Havana and Cayo Coco), Antigua and Providenciales, as well as larger aircraft with more seats for flights from the region, including Havana and Nassau. All told the additions represent over 6,000 more northbound seats.
Flight Cancellations and Change Waivers
Delta Vacations said that its customers who are scheduled to be in the path of Hurricane Irma can opt to take advantage of travel waivers in order to postpone their vacations.
“We are monitoring the situation for customers who remain in destination and will continue to work closely with our hotel and destination partners to ensure their safety,” Delta Vacations said in a statement.
JetBlue reports that it had cancelled approximately 150 flights as of Wednesday afternoon. The airline is waiving change fees, fare differences and cancellation fees for customers flying through the eastern Caribbean through September 7 for rebooked travel through September 11; the western Caribbean through September 8 for rebooked travel through September 11; Florida through September 11 for rebooked travel through September 19; and Charleston and Savannah through September 11 for rebooked travel through September 14.
American Airlines reports that operations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando and West Palm Beach will be canceled throughout the weekend, and that flights originating from Europe and South America that were scheduled to arrive Friday has also been cancelled.
If an American Airlines flight has been cancelled or excessively delayed, customers may cancel their reservation and request a full refund by visiting www.aa.com. The airline has also issued a change waiver for customers flying through the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico through September 9 for rebooked travel through September 14; through Cuba and the Bahamas through September 12 for rebooked travel through September 15; and through Florida through September 17 for rebooked travel through September 30.
United Airlines has issued a waiver for travel through Puerto Rico through September 7 on rebooked travel through September 11; for the Bahamas, Cuba and the Dominican Republic through September 9 for rebooked travel through September 12; and for Florida through September 17 for rebooked travel through September 30.
Delta is offering a travel waiver for customers originally booked through September 9. The ticket must be reissued on or before September 12 with rebooked travel to begin no later than that date.
Finally, Southwest Airlines has issued a waiver for travel through September 17. Customers can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby between the original city pair within 14 days of the original date of travel.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism reports that the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in New Providence will close at the end of the day due to the storms arrival.
The following airports will close on Thursday, September 7:
- INAGUA: Closing 12:00 p.m. on September 7
- RAGGED ISLAND: Closing at Sunset on September
- ACKLINS: Closing at Sunset on September 7
- CROOKED ISLAND: Closing at Sunset on September 7
- MAYAGUNA: Closing at 12:00 p.m. on September 7
- LONG ISLAND: Closing at Sunset on September 7
- RUM CAY: Closing at Sunset on September
- EXUMA & THE CAYS: Closing at Sunset on September
- SAN SALVADOR: Closing at Sunset on September 7
- CAT ISLAND: Closing at Sunset on September 7
- ELEUTHERA: Closing at Sunset on September 7
The following airports will close on Friday, September 8:
- ANDROS, CONGO TOWN & MANGROVE CAY: Closing at 11:00 a.m. on September 8
- ANDROS, FRESH CREEK AND SAN ANDROS: Closing at 4:00 p.m. on September 8
- THE ABACOS: Closing at Sunset on September 8
- GRAND BAHAMA: Closing at 12:00 p.m. on September 8
- BERRY ISLANDS: Closing at Sunset on September 8
- BIMINI: Closing at Sunset on September 8
The storm also caused severe damage to Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten. As of yet there has been no news on when that airport will be able to resume operations.