8 Airlines Issue Waivers as Hurricane Michael Expected to Make Landfall as Major Hurricane

Oct 9, 2018

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Although it just developed as a tropical storm Sunday afternoon, Hurricane Michael has quickly strengthened into a dangerous hurricane. As of the 11pm ET advisory, the hurricane has top sustained winds of 90mph, but it’s expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon as a major hurricane packing 120mph winds.

Hurricane warnings now stretch from the Alabama/Florida border to the Suwannee River, as models are in agreement that landfall is going to occur somewhere on the Florida Panhandle early Wednesday.

Due to the shaping of the Florida coast, Hurricane Michael is expected to cause disastrous storm surge of up to 12 feet. The current storm surge forecast is:

  • Indian Pass FL to Cedar Key FL…8-12 ft
  • Cedar Key FL to Crystal River FL…6-8 ft
  • Okaloosa/Walton County Line FL to Indian Pass FL…6-9 ft
  • Crystal River FL to Anclote River FL…4-6 ft
  • Anclote River to Anna Maria Island FL including Tampa Bay…2-4 ft
  • Alabama/Florida border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line FL…2-4 ft

Unlike recent disasters of Hurricanes Harvey and Florence, Hurricane Michael isn’t expected to be as terrible of a rain event for the Southeast. Still, 6-10 inches of rain are expected across a wide swath of the Southeast, with some of the areas hard hit by Hurricane Florence getting another round of rains on top of already saturated ground.

The bad news is that damaging winds will extend inland due to the storm’s quick movement, and there are multiple major airports in the area. So, travel disruptions are likely for Wednesday and Thursday. Eight airlines have already issued travel waivers for Hurricane Michael, with Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and United extending their waiver all the way up to Atlanta.

Flight cancellations have already started for Hurricane Michael, with 59 flights cancelled for Tuesday and 51 cancelled for Wednesday — including 22 to/from Charlotte (CLT). Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) is the first commercial airport to announce its closure, effective 12:01am on Wednesday morning:

So far, Delta is the only airline to cap airfares. From Tuesday through Thursday, Delta will charge no more than $299 for economy and $499 for first class tickets for one-way flights to/from Pensacola, Panama City, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Tallahassee and Mobile.

As of 11pm ET, the following airlines have issued waivers for Hurricane Michael:

In This Post

Allegiant

  • Allegiant’s website warns its flyers that “based on forecasted weather conditions, our scheduled service may be disrupted (flights may be delayed, diverted, and / or cancelled) 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: October 9-12
  • Covered airports: Destin, FL (VPS); Gulfport, MS (GPT); Jacksonville, FL (JAX); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR); New Orleans, LA (MSY); 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: October 9-11
  • Covered airports: Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Florida (VPS); Mobile, Alabama (MOB); Panama City, Florida (ECP); Pensacola, Florida (PNS); Tallahassee, Florida (TLH)
  • Must have purchased ticket by: October 8
  • Rebooked travel must occur between October 8-13.
  • However, passengers also have the option to “delay your trip.” If changes are made by October 13, AA will allow you change your flights to/from the affected area for up to 1 year beyond original ticketing. Change fees will be waived, but a difference in fare will be charged if applicable.
  • Rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference. No changes in origin or destination are allowed.
  • Avoid the phone queue. Changes available on both AA’s website and in the AA app.

Delta

  • Travel dates: October 9-10
  • Covered airports: Fort Walton Beach, FL (VPS); Mobile, AL (MOB); Panama City, FL (ECP); Pensacola, FL (PNS); Tallahassee, FL (TLH)
  • Tickets must have been purchased by: October 8
  • Tickets must be reissued by: October 13
  • Rebooked travel must begin no later than: October 13
  • 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 October 13, 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: October 9-11
  • Covered airports: Pensacola, FL (PNS); Atlanta, GA (ATL); Birmingham, AL (BHM); Tampa, FL (TPA)
  • Customers who are ticketed to travel between October 9 and October 11, who purchased tickets on or before October 8, may make one itinerary change – rules/restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements will be waived.
  • Travel must be completed no later than October 31. Origin and destination cities may be changed. Customers whose flights are cancelled may request a refund.

JetBlue

  • Travel dates: October 10-11
  • Covered airports: Atlanta (ATL)
  • Customers may rebook their flights for travel through October 13
  • Original travel must have been booked on or before October 8
  • 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: October 6-9
  • Covered airports: Cancun (CUN) and Havana (HAV)
  • Travel dates: October 9-11
  • Covered airports: New Orleans (MSY); Panama City (ECP); Pensacola (PNS)
  • Travel dates: October 8-12
  • Covered airports: Atlanta (ATL)
  • Customers who are holding reservations to/from/through the cities listed above 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.
  • 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.

United

  • Travel dates: October 9-11
  • Covered airports: Atlanta, GA (ATL)​; Charleston, SC (CHS)​; Columbia, SC (CAE)​; Ft. Walton Beach, FL (VPS)​; Greenville-Spartanburg, SC (GSP)​; Mobile, AL (MOB); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)​; Panama City, FL (ECP)​; Pensacola, FL (PNS)​; Savannah, GA (SAV)​
  • The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between October 8, and October 18, 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 October 18, 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: October 6-8
  • Covered airports: Cancun (CUN)
  • 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: Alaska, Spirit

Protect Your Travels

Hurricane Michael is 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.

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