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As predicted, Hurricane Florence has exploded from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in just a couple of days. With the powerful hurricane making its fateful turn toward the US Southeast Coast, airlines are issuing weather waivers to allow flexible travelers to rebook flights avoid area.

As of the 12:00pm ET update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Florence has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with 130mph top sustained winds. The center of circulation is still far out in the Atlantic, but it’s beginning to move quickly toward the Southeast Coast:

At this point, a landfall on the Southeast Coast is all but guaranteed, and the computer models are in general consensus that landfall will occur somewhere on the North Carolina coast late Thursday or early Friday.

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

The hurricane is already creating rip tides and strong surf along the Atlantic coast, and this will continue to increase as the storm nears land. The NHC advisory warns residents that “life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the coastlines of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.”

Because of this, even though the storm is still days away from landfall, the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency. Mandatory evacuations have been issued for the North Carolina Outer Banks, with some orders going into effect on noon Monday:

However, the issue isn’t just going to come from the high winds and high storm surge. The storm is expected to slow to almost a stop as it makes landfall. The NHC is warning of an “exceptionally heavy rainfall event.” While there are no official forecasts for the amount of rain yet, it’s likely that we could see another Hurricane Harvey situation, as the storm remains over one area for a prolonged time.

As of 11:30am Monday, only two airlines have issued change fee waivers. However, we can expect that all airlines flying through the area will issue travel waivers in the next couple of days.

American Airlines

  • Travel Dates:  September 13-16
  • 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
  • The change fee may be waived if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight, and you don’t change your origin or destination city. 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.

Southwest

  • Travel dates: September 12-16
  • Covered airports: Charleston (CHS); Charlotte (CLT); Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP); Norfolk/Virginia Beach (ORF); Raleigh/Durham (RDU); Richmond (RIC)
  • 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.

Protect Your Travels

These storms are yet another reminder of the importance of booking trips with a card that offers solid trip delay and cancellation insurance. When I got stuck in Japan for four extra days due to a typhoon, I was very grateful for the Citi Prestige’s trip delay protection, which reimbursed $1,000 of our expenses.

Although the Citi Prestige used to be my go-to for booking flights, a recent devaluation to the card’s travel benefits knocked it out of its top spot. Currently, I’m using my Chase Sapphire Reserve to book my flights going forward. Other top choices are the Chase Sapphire Preferred CardCiti / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and the Citi Premier Card.

Featured image by NASA via AP.

Citi Premier℠ Card

This card is now offering a 50,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3X Points on Travel, Including Gas Stations
  • Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
  • 50,000 Points are redeemable for $625 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center, or $500 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)
Annual Fee
$95, waived for first 12 months*
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Recommended Credit
Excellent

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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