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Major Florida airports suspend operations ahead of Hurricane Ian, here's what to know if you're impacted

Sept. 27, 2022
4 min read
Hurricane Ian. NOAA VIA GETTY
Major Florida airports suspend operations ahead of Hurricane Ian, here's what to know if you're impacted
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Florida air travelers are facing major disruptions ahead of Hurricane Ian.

Several of the state's busiest airports – including Orlando International Airport (MCO) – are suspending operations as Ian approaches as a “major” Category 3 storm.

The biggest so far is Orlando International – the world’s seventh-busiest airport in 2021 – which announced it will “cease operations” at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The airport encouraged affected passengers to contact their carrier for rebooking information.

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Orlando International joined a rapidly growing list of Florida airports saying they’d halt flights and close terminals during what’s expected to be the worst of the storm. The Orlando area’s other airport – Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), which serves mostly budget carriers – said it would close its doors at 5 p.m. and urged customers not to come to the airport.

In the Tampa Bay region, which remains at risk of a potential landfall by Ian, Tampa International Airport (TPA) had already announced plans to shut down operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Across the bay, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) near St. Petersburg was set to close at 1 p.m.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) on Florida’s Gulf Coast said it would close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Related: Cruise disruptions grow due to Hurricane Ian

Other airports across the state could suspend operations and close their terminals as Ian’s track firms up. All passengers with Florida plans this week should monitor their flights for possible disruptions.

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Tips for passengers affected by airport closures

With multiple Florida airports closed and weather impacting others, there will be a long list of impacted travelers.

If your flight is canceled due to Hurricane Ian, you should be eligible for a refund, if desired. Many airlines are also offering fee-free changes via weather waivers in place for the area. However, if you still need to fly in or out of the area as soon as possible, then your best bet may be to connect with your air carrier for flight change options.

Often, these alternative travel will be available to you when you log into your reservation, which may be a better avenue that contacting the airline since hold times often spike during widespread events. The available flight options will likely be very dynamic and change rapidly at times as flight schedules adjust and other passengers change their plans. In other words, be very proactive and move quickly when you see a flight that would work for your needs.

Related: How to quickly reach an airline customer service agent

Airlines are not likely to cover the cost of unplanned hotel reservations, rental cars and meals incurred as a result of an impacted flight when the cause is the weather. However, you might be eligible for coverage with some expenses via your credit card company if you booked your flight using a credit card with built-in trip delay or trip cancellation coverage.

If that is the case, you might be able to recover some of the costs via that protection, such as accommodations covered by the terms and conditions of protection offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Platinum Card® from American Express, for example.

Remember, it may take the impacted airports —TPA, MCO, SFB, PEI and potentially others, a matter of days to resume normal flight operations, even once the airport itself reopens.

For more info on steps to take when your flight is delayed or canceled, read:

Additional reporting by Caroline Tanner and Summer Hull.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional updates.

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

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023