As a ridiculously powerful category 4 storm barrels towards the east coast of the US, airlines have moved to issue waivers to allow passengers to make changes to their plans. Airlines using airports in the path of the hurricane, in Virginia and the Carolinas, issued waivers on Monday. Today, the waiver zone has spread as far as Baltimore and D.C too.
With the hurricane due to make landfall early on Friday morning, many airlines flying routes in and around the area have already been hinting at hurricane Florence flight cancellations. As of Tuesday morning, waivers allowing passengers to change or rebook their flights with no additional charge are in place at every big airline serving the mid-Atlantic area.
The most powerful in three decades
Described as being the most powerful storm to threaten the Carolinas in almost three decades, Hurricane Florence has a whole lot of people a whole lot of worried. Despite losing power over the course of Tuesday, weather watchers say it is what’s known as an eyewall replacement, meaning it will begin to gather strength again as we move towards the end of the week.
Governors in eastern states of North and South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia have already declared states of emergency. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference on Tuesday:
“This storm is a monster… It’s big and it’s vicious. It is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane.”
Already residents have begun evacuating the areas, either of their own accord or under one of the mandatory evacuation orders issued by the states. So far, these cover the entire South Carolina Coast, the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore of Virginia and Hatteras Island, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk and Nags Head in North Carolina.
In total, more than a million people have been told to leave their homes, in a bid to avoid as much loss of life as possible. With storm surges of up to 12 feet predicted, along with as much as 30 inches of rain, its time for the residents to do what they can to protect their homes, then leave.
What you need to know about hurricane Florence airline waivers
Originally, the hurricane Florence airline waivers only covered those airports in Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas. However, by Tuesday morning, Southwest Airlines had extended their policy to cover as far north as Maryland, taking in Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) as well as Regan National and Dulles airports.
Here’s what we know so far, airline by airline. Please note that things are changing all the time as the path and strength of the hurricane becomes clearer, so if you’re due to fly anywhere around the area over the next few days, do check with your carrier to see what the situation is.
Waiver in place covering September 12th to 16th. Passengers should rebook within 14 days of advisory. Travel window is open ended.
- Alaska Airlines
Waiver in place for September 10th to 16th. Rebooking must be completed by 1st October and flights must be booked after September 20th. Passengers are warned that fares may change on rebooking.
- American Airlines
Waiver in place for September 10th to 16th. Rebooking window is very narrow on this one; flights must be booked between 10th and 19th September and scheduled for after 19th September. Fares may be recalculated upon rebooking.
- Delta Air Lines
Waiver in place for September 13th to 16th, again with a narrow booking window. Flights must be rebooked between 10th and 20th September, with the change fee waived as long as flights are booked for after 20th September. Recalculated fares are likely.
- Frontier Airlines
Waiver covers September 10th to 16th, and rebooking must be done by 1st October.
JetBlue’s waiver covers flights due to travel from the 13th to the 15th September. Booking must be done between 10th and 20th September and rescheduled for a date beyond the 20th. Fares will be recalculated at the time of booking.
- Southwest Airlines
Flights due to travel between 10th and 17th of September are covered by the airlines change fee waiver. Rebooking must be done within 14 days of the original travel date.
- Spirit Airlines
Waiver covers flights booked for 12th to the 16th September. Customers should rebook between the 10th and 20th September and not schedule flights until after 20th September. Fares will be recalculated at the time of booking.
- United Airlines
For those due to fly between 10th and 16th September, United Airlines say changes can be made with fees waived. Booking must take place between the 10th and 20th September, and fares may need to be recalculated.
WestJet have issued a waiver for flights on the 14th September landing or leaving from Myrtle Beach (MYR). For full details, contact the airline directly.
A small airline, Sun Country, has not yet issued any information about waivers, so if you’re flying with them, we’d recommend talking to them directly. There are also some waivers in place for tropical storm Olivia and hurricane Isaac which are causing problems in the Pacific and Caribbean respectively, so check if you’re scheduled to fly in these areas.
Hurricane Florence flight cancellations are not expected to start hitting the schedule until midday Wednesday, but we’ll keep you posted when we know more. Until then, stay safe.