Irma Cancellations Piling Up Monday; It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better

Sep 11, 2017

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After making landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday, Hurricane Irma made a beeline up the Florida peninsula, hitting the city of Naples on the mainland and moving up north at a steady pace. Next in its crosshairs: Georgia and Alabama.

The storm is just north of Tampa at midday Monday, with its center of circulation forecast to head northwest toward Tallahassee, Florida, and then over Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday morning. However, the strongest impacts from the storm will continue to be to the east of the circulation. And there’s a major airport there: Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL).

Meanwhile, it’s going to take a day or two for operations to get restarted in Florida airports, including American Airlines’ hub Miami International (MIA). That means both Delta and American Airlines are facing a rough couple of days.

Delta & Atlanta (ATL)

Cancellations are already piling up in Atlanta with 446 departures and 475 arrivals cancelled by 10am Monday, according to FlightAware’s cancellation tracker. Both of these represent over one-third of ATL’s flights, giving it the distinction of having the most cancellations of any airport nationwide. But, as winds and rain pick up through the day, these numbers are likely to get even worse.

Those FlightAware numbers only reflect the first 414 Delta cancellations for Monday. However, Delta is already reporting a much larger number:

To put this in perspective, Delta cancelled just 10 flights the entire month of September 2016 and operated a jaw-dropping 241 days without a mainline cancellation in 2016.

What should you do if you’re flying through Atlanta — or another Southeast airport — over the next few days? Delta has set- p flight change fee waivers for the severe weather.

  • Travel dates: September 6-17
  • Airports included: Albany, GA (ABY); Atlanta, GA (ATL); Augusta, GA (AGS); Birmingham, AL (BHM); Brunswick, GA (BQK); Charleston, SC (CHS); Columbus, GA (CSG); Daytona Beach, FL (DAB); Dothan, AL (DHN); Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, FL (FLL); Fort Myers, FL (RSW); Fort Walton Beach, FL (VPS); Freeport, BS (FPO); Gainesville, FL (GNV); Georgetown, BS (GGT); Havana, CU (HAV); Huntsville, AL (HSV); Jacksonville, FL (JAX); Key West, FL (EYW); Marsh Harbour, BS (MHH); Melbourne, FL (MLB); Miami, FL (MIA); Mobile, AL (MOB); Montgomery, AL (MGM); Nassau, BS (NAS); Orlando, FL (MCO); Panama City, FL (ECP); Pensacola, FL (PNS); Punta Cana, DO (PUJ); Sarasota/Bradenton, FL (SRQ); Savannah, GA (SAV); San Juan, PR (SJU); Santiago, DO (STI); St. Croix, VI (STX); Tallahassee, FL (TLH); Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater, FL (TPA); Valdosta, GA (VLD); West Palm Beach, FL (PBI)
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: September 30
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond September 30, 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.

That’s right. Even for travel merely connecting through ATL as far out as Sunday, September 17, you can change your travel dates or connecting city. You can even cancel your flight and get a credit toward future flights.

For an airport-by-airport breakdown of Delta’s operations, Delta has been posting updates regularly to its News Hub. Here’s the status for Southeast airports as of Monday morning:

Airport Flights to Resume
Key West (EYW) Restart anticipated Tues. Sept. 12, afternoon (pending infrastructure assessment)
Miami (MIA) Restart planned Mon., Sept. 11, afternoon
Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) Restart planned Mon., Sept. 11, afternoon
West Palm Beach (PBI) Restart planned Mon., Sept. 11, afternoon
Ft. Meyers (RSW) Restart tentatively Tues. Sept. 12 (pending infrastructure assessment)
Sarasota (SRQ) Restart tentatively planned Mon., Sept. 11 (pending infrastructure assessment)
Melbourne (MLB) Restart planned Mon., Sept. 11, afternoon
Tampa (TPA) Restart tentatively Tues., Sept. 12 (pending infrastructure assessment)
Orlando (MCO) Restart planned Mon., Sept. 11, evening
Daytona Beach (DAB) Restart planned Tues. Sept. 12
Gainesville, FL (GNV) Limited flights Sun., Sept. 10 and continue Sept. 11
Jacksonville (JAX) Restart planned Mon., Sept. 11, afternoon
Tallahassee (TLH) Limited flights Sun., Sept. 10 and continue Sept. 11
Brunswick (BQK) Limited flights Sun., Sept. 10 and continue Sept. 11
Valdosta (VLD) Restart tentatively Mon., Sept. 11 (pending infrastructure assessment)
Albany (ABY) Restart tentatively Mon., Sept. 11 (pending infrastructure assessment)
Atlanta (ATL) Delta recommends customers transiting Atlanta make alternate plans via waivers on delta.com
Savannah (SAV) Restart tentatively Mon., Sept. 11 (pending infrastructure assessment)
Dothan (DHN) Restart tentatively Mon., Sept. 11 (pending infrastructure assessment)

American Airlines & Miami (MIA)

By mid-morning, American Airlines has already cancelled 716 flights for Monday. With operations shuttered at a main hub and across Florida, these cancellations represent nearly a quarter of American Airlines’ scheduled flights worldwide.

MIA airport’s CEO said that the airport “endured #HurricaneIrma gusts of nearly 100 mph. Sustained significant water damage throughout.” NBC News tweeted photos of damage inside the terminal:

However, it seems the airport is trying to get operations to resume Tuesday, September 12. The airport posted an update to its Twitter page Sunday night noting that “some airlines will fly personnel and crew members [Monday] in preparation for flights to resume.” However, the “water damage at all concourses, fallen trees, airfield, fuel & other damages” may be too significant to get the airport operational by Tuesday.

Like Delta, American Airlines has generous flight change fee waivers for the severe weather.

FLORIDA

  • Travel dates: September 5-17
  • Airports affected: Daytona Beach, Florida (DAB); Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Florida (VPS); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL); Fort Myers, Florida (RSW); Gainesville, Florida (GNV); Jacksonville, Florida (JAX); Key West, Florida (EYW); Melbourne, Florida (MLB); Miami, Florida (MIA); Orlando, FL (MCO); Palm Beach, Florida (PBI); Pensacola, Florida (PNS); Tallahassee, Florida (TLH); Tampa, Florida (TPA); Sarasota, Florida (SRQ)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 10
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 5-30
  • You can change your origin or destination city within 600 miles. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

GEORGIA & SOUTH CAROLINA COAST

  • Travel dates: September 6-17
  • Airports affected: Charleston, South Carolina (CHS); Hilton Head, South Carolina (HHH); Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR); Savannah, Georgia (SAV)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 10
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 6-30
  • You can change your origin or destination city within 600 miles. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

INLAND

  • Travel dates: September 10-17
  • Airports affected: Asheville, North Carolina (AVL); Atlanta, Georgia (ATL); Augusta, Georgia (AGS); Birmingham, Alabama (BHM); Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina (GSP); Huntsville, Alabama (HSV); Montgomery, Alabama (MGM)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 10
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 10-30
  • Cannot change origin or destination. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

And here’s the airport-by-airport report of American Airlines’ suspended operations:

FLORIDA AIRPORTS

  • Miami, Florida (MIA): Commercial operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Daytona Beach, Florida (DAB): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Florida (VPS): Limited impact to operations at this time
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Fort Myers, Florida (RSW): Operations canceled through Tuesday, Sept. 12
  • Gainesville, Florida (GNV): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Jacksonville, Florida (JAX): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Key West, Florida (EYW): Operations canceled through Tuesday, Sept. 12
  • Melbourne, Florida (MLB): Operations canceled through Tuesday, Sept. 12
  • Orlando, FL (MCO): Operations canceled through Tuesday, Sept. 12
  • Palm Beach, Florida (PBI): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Pensacola, Florida (PNS): Limited impact to operations at this time
  • Tallahassee, Florida (TLH): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Tampa, Florida (TPA): Operations canceled through Tuesday, Sept. 12
  • Sarasota, Florida (SRQ): Operations canceled through Tuesday, Sept. 12

GEORGIA, NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA AIRPORTS:

  • Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT): Scattered cancelations on Monday, Sept. 11 due to strong winds
  • Hilton Head, South Carolina (HHH): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11
  • Savannah, Georgia (SAV): Operations canceled through Monday, Sept. 11

Featured image by Gahsoon Gahsoon via Getty Images.

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