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When Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico Wednesday morning, it left the entire island without power in its wake. At the time of landfall in Puerto Rico, it was a Category 4 hurricane, however, it was downgraded to a Category 3 storm upon its arrival to the Dominican Republic Thursday morning.

San Juan was left with no power and complete devastation following Hurricane Maria. Image by Hector Retamal / Getty Images.
San Juan was left with no power and was completely devastated following Hurricane Maria. Image by Hector Retamal / Getty Images.

According to the National Hurricane Center’s 11:00am ET update, Maria is still a Category 3 storm and has not changed much since the Center’s last update. At this time, Maria is located off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and is expected to move toward the northwest through Thursday night. The eastern coast of the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas should brace for Maria’s wind and rainfall beginning Thursday night and through Friday.

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During the next day or so, there’s a possibility that the storm could even gain strength. Following that potential strengthening, which shouldn’t be too aggressive, the storm is likely to then gradually weaken again over the course of the next 48 hours and beyond. In the longer term, Maria is expected to remain a hurricane for the next five days.

WEATHER WAIVERS

If you are traveling in the area, you can take advantage of travel waivers issued by many airlines, allowing you to change your travel plans. If you aren’t yet there, these weather waivers will let you rebook your trip to avoid the area until the storm passes. For those in the path of the storm, you’ll want to book yourself on an earlier flight to get out before the storm reaches you.

Below is a map of all the airports affected by waivers:

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If you are stuck due to the storm, airlines aren’t going to be responsible for paying for your meals or hotels in the case of weather-related delays/cancellations. That’s why we recommend paying for flights with cards have flight delay/cancellation insurance that 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 Chase Sapphire Preferred ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay). My Citi Prestige personally came in handy a few weeks ago when I got stuck in Japan due to a typhoon-related flight cancellation.

As of this writing, here are the available travel waivers for this storm:

American Airlines

  • Travel dates: September 18-30 [dates extended]
  • 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 [dates extended]
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.
  • Travel dates: September 5-30 [dates extended]
  • 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 19-26
  • 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 2
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond October 2, 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: St. Thomas, VI (STT) and 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-December 31
  • Airports affected: St. Maarten SX (SXM)
  • 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.

Frontier

  • Travel dates: September 18-22
  • Airports affected: San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 18
  • Rebooked travel must be completed no later than October 29
  • 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 19-23
  • 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 September 30
  • 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 [dates extended]
  • 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 [dates extended]
  • Airports affected: Aguadilla, PR (BQN) and San Juan, PR (SJU)
  • Modification charge/fare difference waived through: October 2 [date extended]
  • 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
    • Antigua, AG (ANU) and Nassau, BS (NAS)​ for travel through September 30​

Featured image by Anadolu Agency / Getty Images.

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