Airlines Offering Free Flight Changes as Alberto Churns Toward Memorial Day Landfall
2018 is expected to be a busy hurricane season, and it kicked off early with Subtropical Storm Alberto forming days before the season's June 1 official start date. Now, the storm is churning toward a Memorial Day landfall near Panama City, Florida.
As of the 11am advisory, Subtropical Storm Alberto has strengthened to 50-mph top sustained winds. While that's not strong when it comes to top winds, the wind field is impressive with gusts of at least 39 mph reaching 125 miles east of the center of circulation.
The outer reaches of these tropical storm winds are just starting to brush St. Petersburg, Florida. Tropical Storm Warnings — indicating tropical storm conditions expected within 36 hours — stretch from Fort Myers, Florida to the Alabama-Mississippi border.
But, the winds aren't going to be the worst part of this storm; rain and flooding are the biggest threats. According to the National Hurricane Center, the "Florida panhandle into eastern Alabama and western Georgia" are the areas expected to see the most rain, with isolated sections getting up to 12 inches.
The circulation — combined with the shape of the Gulf Coast — is funneling water into low-lying areas. Sunday morning, Tampa residents received their first emergency broadcast since Hurricane Irma in September 2017, alerting residents where to find sandbags.
Airlines have been slow to issue waivers for this storm. As of Saturday night, only Southwest had offered up free flight changes. But, Sunday morning, more airlines opened up options. As of 12:07pm, the following airlines have issued travel waivers for the storm:
- Travel dates: May 27-29
- Airports covered: Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Florida (VPS); Gulfport / Biloxi, Mississippi (GPT); Mobile, Alabama (MOB); Pensacola, Florida (PNS); Tallahassee, Florida (TLH); Tampa, Florida (TPA)
- Must have purchased your ticket by May 27
- Rebook travel anytime between May 27-June 1
- You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.
- Avoid the phone queue. Changes available on both AA’s website and in the AA app.
- Travel dates: May 27-28
- Airports covered: Destin FT Walton Beach, Florida (VPS); Key West, Florida (EYW); Mobile, Alabama (MOB); Panama City, Florida (ECP); Pensacola, Florida (PNS); Tallahassee, Florida (TLH)
- Ticket must be reissued on or before: June 1
- Rebooked travel must begin no later than: June 1
- When rescheduled travel occurs beyond June 1, 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.
- Travel date: May 27-28
- Airports covered: Fort Lauderdale (FLL); Fort Myers (RSW); Orlando (MCO); Tampa (TPA); West Palm Beach (PBI); Jacksonville (JAX); New Orleans (MSY); Panama City (ECP); Pensacola (PNS)
- Customers who are holding reservations to/from/through these cities on the corresponding dates 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.
- Travel dates: May 27-29
- Airports covered: Ft. Walton Beach, FL (VPS); Gulfport, MS (GPT); Mobile, AL (MOB); Panama City, FL (ECP); Pensacola, FL (PNS)
- The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before June 3, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.
No waivers (yet) from: Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue or Spirit.