10 Airlines Issue Waivers, 3 States Order Evacuations as Hurricane Florence Churns Toward SE Coast

Sep 11, 2018

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Hurricane Watches have been issued for the North Carolina and South Carolina coast as Hurricane Florence steams toward the coast. The Category 4 hurricane weakened slightly overnight Monday, but maintains a Category 4 status with top sustained winds of 130mph. And the bad news is that this weakening is due to the hurricane going through an eyewall replacement cycle — a process that typically results in further strengthening of the storm.

Governors in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have declared states of emergency. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for NC, SC and Virginia, including:

  • North Carolina: Hatteras Island beginning at noon Monday. Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk and Nags Head beginning Tuesday morning.
  • South Carolina: The entire SC coast is under mandatory evacuation (approximately 1,000,000 residents) starting Tuesday at noon.
  • Virginia: Hampton Roads area and Eastern Shore (approximately 245,000 residents) effective Tuesday at 8:00am.

Mesmerizing satellite imagery shows the hurricane’s incredible power as it churned through the Atlantic on Monday:

If you’re in the projected path, now is the time to prepare for this storm. (NOAA’s Hurricane Preparedness page is a great starting place.) On Tuesday morning, the models shifted landfall southward but the National Hurricane Center-dubbed “extremely dangerous” hurricane is still expected to make landfall somewhere on the South Carolina or North Carolina coast.

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Image courtesy of the Hurricane Forecast Model Output of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

After landfall, the storm is expected to stall out over North Carolina, creating “life-threatening freshwater flooding” from a “prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event.” Current projections show that some parts of the North Carolina coast can expect more than 20 inches of rain, with a large area North Carolina into Virginia getting 10+ inches of rain:

TPG‘s Darren Murph lives near the coast in North Carolina and has witnessed the community banding together to help each other, with an all-hands-on-deck mentality to move watercraft from marinas, share resources, and look after pets, children and elderly residents. To prevent hoarding, local hardware stores have begun rationing generators to one per family.

Travelers looking for tips and advice on what to do about flights in/through the path of Hurricane Florence should head over to this TPG Lounge thread to discuss this topic.

Airlines have also continued to issue — and extend — travel waivers to help travelers with flights through the path of the storm. As of 10:00am ET, the following waivers have been issued for Hurricane Florence. See here for waivers for Hurricane Isaac (Caribbean) and Hurricane Olivia (Hawaii).

In This Post

Alaska Airlines

  • Travel dates: September 10-16
  • Covered airports: Charleston (CHS); Raleigh – Durham (RDU)
  • Tickets must have been purchased by September 10
  • Rebooked travel must occur between September 10-October 1
  • If you purchased your tickets directly from Alaska Airlines, you have a few options. Click one of the links below: Change my flight or Cancel my flight and deposit the ticket value into My account.

Allegiant

  • Allegiant’s website warns its flyers that “based on forecasted weather conditions, our scheduled service may be disrupted to and from the following cities on the dates indicated below.” At this time, it doesn’t seem that Allegiant is allowing free changes.
  • Travel dates: September 12-16
  • Covered airports: Asheville, NC (AVL); Charleston, SC (CHS); Concord, NC (USA); Greensboro, NC (GSO); Greenville, SC (GSP); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR); Norfolk, VA (ORF); Richmond, VA (RIC); Roanoke, VA (ROA); Savannah, GA (SAV)
  • Travel dates listed below may be disrupted due to the weather conditions.  Please continue to monitor this page for updates regarding your flight (s). Customers may also call Allegiant Customer Care at 702-505-8888 at any time 24 hours per day, seven days a week for assistance.

American

  • Travel dates: September 10-16
  • Covered airports: Asheville, North Carolina (AVL); Augusta, Georgia (AGS); Charleston, South Carolina (CHS); Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT); Charlottesville, Virginia (CHO); Columbia, South Carolina (CAE); Fayetteville, North Carolina (FAY); Florence, South Carolina (FLO); Greensboro / High Point, North Carolina (GSO); Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina (GSP); Greenville, North Carolina (PGV); Hampton / Newport News, Virginia (PHF); Hilton Head, South Carolina (HHH); Jacksonville, North Carolina (OAJ); Lynchburg, Virginia (LYH); Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR); New Bern, North Carolina (EWN); Norfolk, Virginia (ORF); Raleigh / Durham, North Carolina (RDU); Richmond, Virginia (RIC); Roanoke, Virginia (ROA); Savannah, Georgia (SAV); Wilmington, North Carolina (ILM)
  • Must have purchased ticket by: September 10
  • Rebooked travel must occur between September 10-19
  • You may change your origin and destination to another city affected by this alert
  • Rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference.
  • Avoid the phone queue. Changes available on both AA’s website and in the AA app.

Delta

  • Travel dates: September 13-16
  • Covered airports: Charleston, SC (CHS); Fayetteville, NC (FAY); Greensboro, NC (GSO); Jacksonville, NC (OAJ); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR); New Bern, NC (EWN); Norfolk, VA (ORF); Newport News, VA (PHF); Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU); Richmond, VA (RIC); Savannah, GA (SAV); Wilmington, NC (ILM)
  • Tickets must have been purchased by: September 10
  • Tickets must be reissued by: September 20
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: September 20
  • Changes to origins and destinations may result in an increase in fare. Any difference in fare between your original ticket and the new ticket will be collected at the time of booking.
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond September 20, 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 is not able to 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. Applicable change fee and fare difference will apply for new travel dates.

Frontier

  • Travel dates: September 10-16
  • Covered airports: Charleston, SC (CHS); Charlotte, NC (CLT); Greenville-Spartanburg, SC (GSP); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR); Norfolk, VA (ORF); Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU); Savannah, GA (SAV)
  • No other details are provided on Frontier’s website.

JetBlue

  • Travel dates: September 13-15
  • Covered airports: Charleston, SC (CHS); Charlotte, NC (CLT); Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU); Richmond, VA (RIC); Savannah, GA (SAV) [added from previous version]
  • Customers may rebook their flights for travel through Thursday, September 20
  • Original travel must have been booked on or before Monday, September 10
  • Customers with cancelled flights may also opt for a refund to the original form of payment
  • Make the change online in the ‘Manage Flights’ section of jetblue.com or by calling 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) prior to the departure time of their originally scheduled flight

Southwest

  • Travel dates: September 10-17 [expanded from the previous version]
  • Covered airports: Baltimore/Washington (BWI); Charleston (CHS); Charlotte (CLT); Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP); Norfolk/Virginia Beach (ORF); Raleigh/Durham (RDU); Richmond (RIC); Washington Dulles International (IAD); Washington DC (Reagan National – DCA) [expanded from the previous version]
  • Customers who are holding reservations for the abovementioned 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.
  • Customers who purchased their itinerary via Southwest.com or our mobile app are eligible to reschedule their travel plans online or from their mobile device. Customers who did not purchase a ticket via Southwest.com can call 1-800-435-9792 to speak with a Customer Representative.

Spirit

  • Travel dates: September 12-16
  • Covered airports: Asheville, NC (AVL); Greensboro, NC (GSO); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR); Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Modification Charge/Fare Difference waived through: September 20
  • After this date, the modification charge is waived, but a fare difference may apply.
  • Guests can make changes to their reservations affected by this event by going to Spirit’s Manage Travel page, or by calling the Spirit Reservations Center at 801-401-2222 to make their flight changes. To make changes to Spirit Vacation packages contact Spirit Vacations at 954-379-8866.

United

  • Travel dates: September 10-16
  • Covered airports: Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP); Columbia, SC (CAE); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR); Charleston, SC (CHS); Wilmington, NC (ILM); Fayetteville, NC (FAY); Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU); Charlotte, NC (CLT); Greensboro, NC (GSO); Asheville, NC (AVL); Roanoke, VA (ROA); Norfolk, VA (ORF); Richmond, VA (RIC); Charlottesville, VA (CHO); Shenandoah Valley Airport, VA (SHD); Savannah, GA (SAV)
  • The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between September 10-16, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.
  • For wholly rescheduled travel departing after September 20 or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel must be completed within one year from the date when the ticket was issued.

WestJet

  • Travel dates: September 14
  • Covered airports: Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
  • To find out more about the change and cancel options due to these advisories, please call: WestJet flights: 1-888-937-8538 or WestJet Vacations: 1-877-737-7001

No waivers (yet) from: Air Canada, Sun Country, United

Protect Your Travels

These storms are yet another reminder to book flights with a card that offers solid trip delay and cancellation insurance. Currently, I’m using my Chase Sapphire Reserve to book my flights going forward. Another top choice is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

This post has been updated since publishing to include the latest information. Some comments below may be referring to older versions of the post.

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