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Flying out of Hurricane Irma's Way Will Cost You a Lot, in Dollars or Miles

Sept. 06, 2017
6 min read
Flying out of Hurricane Irma's Way Will Cost You a Lot, in Dollars or Miles
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Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Miami on Sunday morning as a Category 4 hurricane, and residents and visitors in South Florida are evacuating. At the time of this writing, all of the major US carriers have issued travel waivers for travel to South Florida and a slew of Caribbean Islands. If you’re traveling to or from the affected area between now and when the waivers expire, it's advisable to change your plans. The potentially catastrophic storm could hinder travel for days — or weeks — to come.

If you’re in South Florida and don’t currently have any means of evacuating, there are still flights available — for now. We also searched for other overland options for evacuations including Amtrak and Megabus. Bus tickets are still available on several routes, but we couldn't find any trains available from South Florida for the routes we searched.

Cash prices for flights are high as seats are selling out quickly. For example, here's a screenshot of the results of a search for one-way flights from Miami (MIA) to Charlotte (CLT) on American on Friday, September 8.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.22.21 AM

As you can see, it's going to cost you if you want to fly out of the path of the storm. The cheapest ticket we see is running for $445 one-way... with only one seat left. The situation isn't much better on the other legacy carriers, either. Delta's asking at least $387 for a one-way flight from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Detroit (DTW). On Wednesday, Delta shared that it will be adding flights and sending larger aircraft on flights between its hub in Atlanta (ATL) and South Florida's three largest airports: MIA, FLL and Palm Beach International (PBI).

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.23.37 AM

Finally, United's charging an eye-popping $1,003 for a one-way ticket from Miami (MIA) to its hub in Chicago (ORD).

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.40.39 AM

Southwest, on the other hand, still has some tickets available with prices that are much closer to Earth than those of its competitors — we're seeing one-way flights starting at under $400 from FLL to Austin (AUS). Plus, with Southwest's generous checked bag policy, it could be a great way to get out quick.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.45.46 AM

If you want to put your points and miles to use, this could be a good time to do so. Keep in mind, however, there aren’t many options left, and the redemptions can be steep — and that these are not exhaustive lists. We sampled a few routes from each of the major carriers to see what award availability was like from the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area to other regions in the US. With Irma expected to hit Miami on Sunday, you’ll want to travel before then in order to have the best chances at getting out.

It appears that American Airlines still has several award flights available out of MIA on Friday, and they'll cost you 20,000 AAdvantage miles one-way for an Economy AAnytime award.

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Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.52.14 AM

If you have a stash of Delta SkyMiles waiting to be burned, this could be a good opportunity to do so — though flights won't come cheap. The airline is charging 47,000 miles for the one-way flight from FLL to DTW.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.53.47 AM

There are also award tickets available on Southwest's flights to Austin — though they're also on the steep side.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 11.46.07 AM

Remember, too, that if you have points in any of the major transferrable currencies (Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou), you can use those points to book revenue flights through the respective travel portals. Given the high cost of many of these tickets, the amount of points you'll need to redeem is likely going to be very high, but it's worth researching as another option.

If you're 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, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred.

If you decide to take to the air to evade the storm, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a place to stay. We ran searches on hotels.com in each of the destinations featured in this post, and there still seem to be plenty of rooms available to book — and at decent prices, too.

Are you planning to evacuate South Florida via land or air?

Featured image by AFP/Getty Images

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  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
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Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees