After crossing the Gulf coast near Cameron, Louisiana, Hurricane Laura has weakened to a tropical storm and is moving north. Meanwhile, hundreds of flights got diverted and canceled as airlines scrambled to avoid the bad weather.
Flights delayed, canceled, and diverted
By Wednesday afternoon, 414 flights were canceled at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston due to Hurricane Laura. United Airlines canceled all its flights through the same airport and canceled more than 600 flights network-wide owing to the storm. According to the airline’s social media feeds, it is “proactively” canceling flights.
Due to #HurricaneLaura, we've proactively canceled flights across the system on 8/26 & 8/27.
Check your flight status or change your flight at no cost on https://t.co/ufFoKFCcVG, our mobile app, by messaging us here, or calling 1-800-864-8331. Waiver: https://t.co/0ZHMdCxuEI pic.twitter.com/i0FkqFlP09
— United Airlines (@united) August 26, 2020
Over at Baton Rouge Airport, United Airlines canceled all flights between Baton Rouge and Houston. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines kept most of their Baton Rouge flights running normally, except for a canceled Delta flight to Atlanta.
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New Orleans Airport stayed open and advised they expected the hurricane to have minimal impact on operations. By Thursday morning, 14 flights got canceled, and four flights got delayed out of Dallas Fort Worth Airport. At Houston Hobby Airport, 61 flights got canceled, and three flights got delayed. Southwest Airlines had temporarily suspended all its flights into Houston Hobby Airport.
Airlines waive fees and some allow refunds
With so many disruptions, airlines are waiving fees and change restrictions for impacted passengers. For JetBlue passengers ticketed to travel through George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and New Orleans Airport on August 26 and 27, the airline will waive change and cancelation fees and fare differences. If your JetBlue flight got canceled, you may opt for a refund.
Frontier Airlines has a similar policy covering the same two airports. Frontier’s waiver covers passengers ticketed to travel on or between August 24 and 27. In addition to applying for a refund, if your flight got canceled, Frontier is waiving restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements.
In a statement, Dallas-based American Airlines said it was monitoring the hurricane. The airline noted it was impacting a region with a heavy AA footprint. American Airlines’ waiver covers passengers ticketed to travel through 13 airports on or between August 25 and 29. Subject to a few standard conditions, American is allowing passengers to rebook without penalty. There is also the option to cancel and obtain a refund.
Delta is offering a travel credit to impacted passengers
Delta Air Lines offers a similar deal, only it’s refund offer comes in the form of a travel credit valid for 12 months. Delta flies to more destinations in the path of Hurricane Laura, and its waiver extends 11 airports, including both George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby Airports in Houston, New Orleans, Little Rock, and Memphis.
Southwest Airlines is advising its services into Houston Hobby Airport, New Orleans Airport, Little Rock Airport, and Memphis Airport may get disrupted until Friday. Flights to certain airports may be delayed, diverted, or canceled, depending on how Hurricane Laura behaves. The airline is allowing affected passengers to rebook to travel within 14 days without charge. Southwest Airlines is providing refunds if a flight got canceled.
As Hurricane Laura weakens in intensity, airlines and airports around the Gulf will quickly start resuming normal operations. But getting the backlog of passengers moving may take a few days.