Airlines Extend Waivers to Florida Ahead of Potentially Catastrophic Irma

Sep 6, 2017

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For the latest forecast and travel waivers, click here to see our newest post on Hurricane Irma.


One of the strongest hurricanes on record, Irma passed over Barbuda, St. Barthelemy and St. Maarten on Wednesday morning, leaving a trail of destruction behind it. The devastating storm is expected to plow forward into the northern Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later Wednesday.

Travelers and residents in these areas should immediately find shelter on high ground.

Overnight, the famous  (or infamous) St. Maarten airport (SXM) forecast reflected 140 knot (160+ mph) expected winds. That forecast was realized — one of the webcams showing the beach next to the airport’s runway was finally knocked offline after showing a terrifying scene.

Scenes from the airport in the aftermath make it clear that damage has been heavy:

FORECAST

Thursday, the storm is expected to pass just north of the Dominican Republic coast and into the Bahamas. Due to the rotation of the storm, areas north of the core of the storm can expect catastrophic flooding. In the Turks and Caicos Islands and Southeastern Bahamas, tides are expected to be 15-20 feet higher than normal. Waves will break even higher than that.

From there, hurricane models continue to show an easterly turn from previous forecasts. The latest update (11am Eastern) now predicts a Category 4 hurricane to make landfall Sunday morning in South Florida before continuing up the Florida coast.

145453_5day_cone_no_line_and_wind

However, other models predict an even more easterly turn, which would spare much of the Florida Keys and skim the coast of Florida before making landfall in the Carolinas:

Currently, the destructive core of the monster storm remains compact. Top sustained winds remain at an unbelievable 185 mph, but hurricane force winds only extend outward 50 miles. Exactly where the core of the storm hits will make a significant difference. So, travelers and residents in the Bahamas, Cuba, Florida and northward into Georgia and the Carolinas need to keep a close watch on this storm.

WEATHER WAIVERS

If you are traveling in the area, many airlines have released travel waivers allowing you to change your travel plans. If you aren’t yet there, these weather waivers will let you rebook your trip avoid the area until the storm passes. For those in the area, flights are quickly filling up and standby lists are growing. But, you may be able to change your flights to get out ahead of the storm.

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

hurricane_irma_weather_waivers_wed_9-6-17

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:

Alaska

  • Travel dates: September 6-12
  • Airports affected: Havana (HAV); Fort Lauderdale (FLL); Orlando (MCO); Tampa (TPA)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 6
  • Rebook travel anytime through September 19
  • You may request a refund if you choose not to travel at all.
  • Tickets must be exchanged or refunded on or before September 12, 2017.

American Airlines

LEEWARD ISLANDS & PUERTO RICO

  • Travel dates: September 5-9
  • Airports affected: Anguilla Wallblake, Anguilla (AXA); Antigua, Antigua (ANU); Beef Island, British Virgin Islands (EIS); San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU); St. Croix Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (STX); St. Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKB); St. Maarten, Saint Maarten (SXM); St. Thomas Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT); Cap-Haitien, Haiti (CAP); Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP); Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP); Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ); Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ); Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 3
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 4-12
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

CUBA & BAHAMAS

  • Travel dates: September 5-12
  • CUBA Airports affected: Cienfuegos, Cuba (CFG); Camaguey, Cuba (CMW); Havana, Cuba (HAV); Holguin, Cuba (HOG); Santa Clara, Cuba (SNU); Varadero, Cuba (VRA)
  • BAHAMAS Airports affected: North Eleuthera, Bahamas (ELH); Freeport, Bahamas (FPO); Exuma, Bahamas (GGT); Marsh Harbour, Bahamas (MHH); Nassau, Bahamas (NAS); San Salvador, Bahamas (ZSA)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 5
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 5-15
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

FLORIDA

  • Travel dates: September 5-12
  • Airports affected: Key West, Florida (EYW); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL); Miami, Florida (MIA); Palm Beach, Florida (PBI); Fort Myers, Florida (RSW); Sarasota, Florida (SRQ)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 5
  • Rebook travel anytime between September 5-15
  • You can change your origin or destination city within 300 miles. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

Delta

  • Travel dates: September 5-9
  • Airports affected: Punta Cana, DO (PUJ); San Juan, PR (SJU); Santiago, DO (STI); St. Croix, VI (STX); St. Maarten, SX (SXM); St. Thomas, VI (STT); Turk Caicos ISLS, TC (PLS)
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: September 12
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond September 12, 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 5-12
  • Airports affected: Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL); Fort Myers, FL (RSW); Freeport, BS (FPO); Georgetown, BS (GGT); Havana, CU (HAV); Key West, FL (EYW); Miami, FL (MIA); Nassau, BS (NAS); Sarasota, FL (SRQ); West Palm Beach, Florida (PBI)
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: September 15
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond September 15, 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 5-12
  • Airports affected: Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL); Orlando, FL (MCO); Miami, FL (MIA); Fort Myers, FL (RSW); Tampa, FL (TPA); San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 4
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: October 15
  • 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.

Flight Cancellations:

  • Tuesday, September 5, 2017
    • 1658 Orlando to San Juan
    • 1040 Philadelphia to San Juan
  • Wednesday, September 6, 2017
    • 1041 San Juan to Philadelphia
    • 681 San Juan to Orlando
    • 104 Philadelphia to Punta Cana
    • 105 Punta Cana to Philadelphia

JetBlue

Eastern Caribbean

  • Travel dates: September 5-7
  • Airports affected: Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (BQN); Antigua (ANU); Ponce, Puerto Rico (PSE); San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU); St. Croix (STX); St. Maarten (SXM); St. Thomas (STT)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 4
  • Rebook travel anytime through September 11
  • 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.

Western Caribbean

  • Travel dates: September 6-8
  • Airports affected: Puerto Plata, DR (POP); Punta Cana, DR (PUJ); Santo Domingo, DR (SDQ); Santiago, DR (STI); Havana, Cuba (HAV); Santa Clara, Cuba (SNU); Camaguey, Cuba (CMW); Holguin, Cuba (HOG); Providenciales, Turks & Caicos (PLS); Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 5
  • Rebook travel anytime through September 11
  • 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.

Florida

  • Travel dates: September 9-10
  • Airports affected: Fort Lauderale, FL (FLL); West Palm Beach, FL (PBI); Fort Myers, FL (RSW); Sarasota, FL (SRQ); Tampa, FL (TPA); Orlando, FL (MCO)
  • Must have bought your ticket by September 5
  • Rebook travel anytime through September 12
  • 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.

Southwest

  • Travel dates: September 5-11
  • Airports affected: Fort Lauderdale (FLL); Fort Myers (RSW); Havana (HAV); Nassau (NAS); Orlando (MCO); Punta Cana (PUJ); San Juan (SJU); Tampa (TPA); West Palm Beach (PBI)
  • 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 6-11
  • Airports affected: Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL); Fort Myers (RSW); Orlando, FL (MCO); Tampa, FL (TPA)
  • Modification charge/fare difference waived through: September 16
  • Customers can make changes to their reservations by going to the Manage Travel page or calling Spirit at 801-401-2222.
  • Travel dates: September 5-7
  • Airports affected: Aguadilla, PR (BQN); San Juan, PR (SJU); St. Thomas, USVI (STT)
  • Modification charge/fare difference waived through: September 11
  • Customers can make changes to their reservations by going to the Manage Travel page or calling Spirit at 801-401-2222.
  • Travel dates: September 7-8
  • Airports affected: Port-au-Prince, HT (PAP); Santiago, DR (STI); Santo Domingo, DR (SDQ)
  • Modification charge/fare difference waived through: September 12
  • Customers can make changes to their reservations by going to the Manage Travel page or calling Spirit at 801-401-2222.

United

Puerto Rico

  • Travel dates: September 5-7
  • Airports affected: Aguadilla, PR, US (BQN) and San Juan, PR, US (SJU)
  • ​​​​​​The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before September 11, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

Bahamas, Cuba, and Dominican Republic

  • Travel dates: September 5-9
  • Airports affected: Havana, CU (HAV); Nassau, BS (NAS); Puerto Plata, DO (POP); Punta Cana, DO (PUJ); Santiago, DO (STI); Santo Domingo, DO (SDQ)
  • ​​​​​​The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before September 12, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

Florida

  • Travel dates: September 5-12
  • Airports affected: Ft. Lauderdale, FL (FLL); Ft. Myers, FL (RSW); Miami, FL (MIA); West Palm Beach, FL (PBI)
  • ​​​​​​The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before September 15, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

Featured image by Lionel Chamoiseau / Getty Images.

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