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Hurricane Maria: How to Make Sure Canceled Flights Don't Cost You Money

Sept. 22, 2017
8 min read
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As Hurricane Maria churns through the Caribbean, passengers traveling through the affected areas can expect flights to be cancelled or at the very least heavily delayed. If you have a planned trip that involves an airport in the Caribbean — even if the airport is just a connection city and not an origin or destination point — you may want to strongly consider changing your flights to avoid the area if at all possible.

Fortunately, most US airlines have provided options so that you can make changes to itineraries related to the storm without paying fees, even on tickets that would normally require extra money to change. Here's a map of all the airports currently affected by waivers:

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Remember, if you get stuck due to the storm, airlines generally won't take responsibility for paying for your meals or hotels since the delays/cancellations are weather-related. To avoid losses, we recommend paying for flights with cards that have flight delay/cancellation insurance which can reimburse you for weather issues, including the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 3+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay). The Citi Prestige was a major help to Points & Miles Writer JT Genter a few weeks ago when he got stuck in Japan due to a typhoon-related flight cancellation.

As of this writing, here are the various travel waivers for the storm at each airline:

American Airlines

  • Travel dates: September 18-30
  • Airports affected: Bridgetown, Barbados (BGI); Cap Haitien, Haiti (CAP); Fort de France, Martinique (FDF); Port Au Prince (PAP); Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ); San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU); Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI); Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ); St. Croix Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (STX); St. Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKB); St. Lucia, Saint Lucia (UVF)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 18
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 17-October 7
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.
  • Travel dates: September 5-30
  • Airports affected: Antigua, Antigua (ANU); Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 18
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 10-November 15
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

Existing Caribbean Irma waivers

  • Travel dates: September 5-October 31, 2017
  • Airports affected: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (PLS); St. Thomas Island, US Virgin Islands (STT)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 18
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 10-December 31, 2017
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.
  • Travel dates: September 5-August 31, 2018
  • Airports affected: St. Maarten, Saint Maarten (SXM)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 18, 2017
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 10-September 30, 2018
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

Delta

  • Travel dates: September 19-30 [dates extended]
  • Airports affected: Punta Cana, DO (PUJ); Santiago, DS (STI); Santo Domingo, DO (SDQ); San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: October 7 [date extended]
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond October 7, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue.
  • If travel cannot be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance.

Existing Caribbean Irma waivers

  • Travel dates: September 5-October 31
  • Airports affected: Turks Caicos ISLS, TC (PLS)
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: October 31, 2018
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond October 31, 2018, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue.
  • If travel cannot be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance.
  • Travel dates: September 5-April 2, 2018 [dates extended]
  • Airports affected: St. Maarten SX (SXM) and St. Thomas, VI (STT)
  • Ticket must be reissued on or before: October 31, 2017 [earlier deadline]
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: September 27, 2018 [earlier deadline]
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond September 27, 2018, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue.
  • If travel cannot be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance.

Frontier

  • Travel dates: September 18-30 [dates extended]
  • Airports affected: San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 18
  • Rebooked travel must be completed no later than October 31 [dates extended]
  • Origin and destination cities may be changed.
  • One change available. Rules/restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements will be waived.

JetBlue

  • Travel dates: September 19-26 [dates extended]
  • Airports affected: Aguadilla, PR (BQN); Antigua (ANU); Barbados (BGI); La Romana, DR (LRM); Ponce, PR (PSE); Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS); Puerto Plata, DR (POP); Punta Cana, DR (PUJ); San Juan, PR (SJU); Santiago, DR (STI); Santo Domino, DR (SDQ); St. Croix (STX); St. Lucia (UVF); St. Maarten (SXM); St. Thomas (STT)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 17
  • Rebook travel anytime through October 7 [dates extended]
  • To rebook travel or request a refund online, click here. If you are already checked in for your flight, call JetBlue at 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) for assistance with rebooking or a credit.
  • Note that the following airports still have Irma waivers available:
  • St. Maarten (SXM) for travel through May 1, 2018
  • Turks & Caicos (PLS) for travel through December 15
  • St. Thomas (STT) for travel through January 15, 2018
  • Santa Clara, Cuba (SNU) for travel through September 30

Southwest

  • Travel dates: September 18-30
  • Airports affected: San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) and and Punta Cana (PUJ)
  • Customers who are holding reservations for flights departing during these dates, and want to alter their travel plans may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with Southwest’s accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge.

Spirit Airlines

  • Travel dates: September 18-26
  • Airports affected: Aguadilla, PR (BQN) and San Juan, PR (SJU)
  • Modification charge/fare difference waived through: October 2
  • Customers can make changes to their reservations by going to the Manage Travel page or calling Spirit at 801-401-2222.
  • Travel dates: September 19-21
  • Airports affected: Port-au-Prince, HT (PAP); Santiago, DR (STI); Santo Domingo, DR (SDQ)
  • Modification charge/fare difference waived through: September 27
  • Customers can make changes to their reservations by going to the Manage Travel page or calling Spirit at 801-401-2222.
  • Travel dates: September 5-October 31
  • Airports affected: St. Maarten, SX (SXM) and St. Thomas, USVI (STT)
  • Modification charge/fare difference waived through: November 15
  • Customers can make changes to their reservations by going to the Manage Travel page or calling Spirit at 801-401-2222.

United

  • Travel dates: September 18-30
  • Airports affected: Aguadilla, PR, US (BQN); Providenciales, TC (PLS); Puerto Plata, DO (POP); Punta Cana, DO (PUJ); San Juan, PR, US (SJU); Santiago, DO (STI); Santo Domingo, DO (SDQ)
  • ​​​​​​The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between September 17-October 7, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​
  • Note that the following airports still have Irma waivers available:
  • Providenciales, TC (PLS)​; St. Thomas, VI (STT)​; St. Maarten, SX (SXM)​ for travel through October 31 (new travel must depart by December 31)
  • Antigua, AG (ANU) and Nassau, BS (NAS)​ for travel through September 30​ (new travel must depart by November 15)
Featured image by AFP/Getty Images

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