Flight Delay Info: Hurricane Irene in Caribbean, May Hit Florida

Hurricane Irene: Heading to Florida, Northeast?

Hurricane Irene has battered Puerto Rico and is currently tracking in a trajectory that could affect the Bahamas and ultimately Florida before possibly continuing up the eastern seaboard of the U.S. It is the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2011 season and it could be a big one; Irene is expected to gain strength over the next five days. As always, hurricanes can and do vary paths from early predictions, so keep up with the latest developments at the National Hurricane Center.

What You Need to Know about Airline Fee Waivers

In the past few years, airlines have become increasing pro-active when it comes to waiving the expensive change fees to and from destinations affected by bad weather, and such is the case this time. Note: some carriers may change your reservations automatically so be sure to check your airline’s website in case you’ve been rebooked.

Most of the current airline travel advisories cover the Dominican Republic, U.S. and  British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but keep checking as conditions will change and more destinations will likely be added as the airlines update their sites.

Which Airlines are Waiving Fees

See the list of carriers below; these airlines currently feature travel advisories on their websites. Click the airline’s name for more information.

  • American: No change fee for travelers with tickets to affected locations from Aug. 21 through Aug. 24 if they begin travel no later than Aug. 27
  • JetBlue: No change fee for travelers to affected locations through Aug. 23 if they rebook travel on flights departing no later than Aug. 27
  • Spirit: No change fee for travelers with tickets to affected locations from Aug. 21 through Aug. 23 if they begin travel on or before Sept. 6.
  • United/Continental: No change fee for affected areas for travel through Aug. 25; rebooking dates can vary

At the moment, there is no information on hurricane waivers on websites for Delta, Southwest, US Airways, Virgin America and others but keep checking for updates if you are booked on any of these airlines.

Flight Delays, Cancelations: What to Do

If you’re at home or in the airport and have just learned your flight has been canceled or delayed, there are some things you should do.

First, contact your airline immediately, and here are other tips to follow:

  • Multi-task communications: If your flight is canceled or delayed, immediately get in line and listen to the gate agent; at the same time, call the airline (it may be quicker)
  • Use your elite miles status: If you have a dedicated number to contact your airline with, now is the time to use it
  • Follow your airline on Twitter: Airlines have staff monitoring social networks, and may respond more quickly to tweets for help than other communications
  • Don’t be Late: Delays can evaporate and windows of opportunity for take-off can be short; if you’re not present for boarding, you may be out of luck
  • Hotel contacts: Use the delay (and your smart phone) to find local hotel numbers; when storms hit, rooms fill up fast

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Published: August 22, 2011