With Hurricane Dorian approaching the U.S. coast most airlines have issued travel waivers allowing passengers traveling to/from/via affected destinations to make changes to their itinerary or cancel the trip altogether.
Having arranged travel to areas that are in the path of a major natural disaster is not the best situation to be in although much better than those poor folks who actually reside in the actual area.
The U.S. have to deal with many such disasters each year, be it floodings, tornados, hurricanes or blizzards so the airlines are used to roll out comprehensive travel waivers in order to not only support the customers but also take some weight off their own operations before the proverbial sh*t hits the fan.
First and foremost, the National Hurricane Center has up to date information about Hurricane Dorian.
Those affected or interested should have a close eye on that as as well as the local disaster relief and news stations.
Now to have a look at the airlines. The big three (American, Delta and United) rolled out the following policies:
American Airlines (access here):
Flights to, through or from cities in Florida and the Caribbean may be affected by Hurricane Dorian through Sept. 4. Please don’t go to the airport unless you have checked that your flight status shows “On time.”
Travel alerts have been issued for more than 15 airports Florida and the Caribbean in the path of Hurricane Dorian. If your trip is impacted you may be eligible to change it online.
We’ve capped fares at a maximum of $499 each way for Main Cabin, and $699 for premium cabins, on one-way nonstop flights from these cities in Florida (see listed cities following the link above). Fares apply for flights out of these locations through September 4, 2019.
Fees for up to 2 checked bags for flights to / from all cities affected by this alert in Florida will be waived. We will [only] accept up to 2 free checked bags per customer so we can accommodate as many bags possible on our planes. …
If an American flight has been canceled or excessively delayed, customers may cancel their itinerary and request a refund by visiting our website. Customers who booked through a travel agent should contact their agency directly.
Delta Air Lines (access here):
To provide you with flexibility for your travel plans, we’re offering you the following options to choose what best fits your travel needs.
1) Remain on your current flight. ; 2) Change to a different flight ; 3) You may choose to cancel your trip, and use the value towards a future flight.
If you select to change your flight, you may make a one-time change and we will waive any applicable change fee. The change fee will display initially, however, once you select your new itinerary the change fee will be waived prior to checkout.
You may cancel your flight and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original issue date.
Applicable change fee and fare difference will apply for new travel dates and will be collected at the time of booking the new ticket.
Eligibility only for customers with an Original Ticket Issue Date on or before August 30, 2019.
United Airlines (access here):
The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between August 29, 2019, and September 13, 2019, 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 September 13, 2019, 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.
For other airlines, domestic or international, that serve the affected area which right now as per these waiver include the state of Florida as well as the Caribbean you should check the website of the operating carrier directly and contact them if necessary.
Cruise Lines have also rerouted their ships to get them out of harms way and passengers might be affected by these reroutings, possibly requiring new flight options. Those who are currently on a ship will receive up to date information which ports are being used in the following days.
I found it strange how different the big three U.S. carriers have designed their travel waivers in this situation. Especially American Airlines appears to be very restrictive here, Delta and United somewhat similar.
Some people might want to try and get out of the area before the hurricane arrives provided they can get a reservation at this point. Airlines have put restrictions on baggage (2 pieces) that can be checked in. I’d also prepare for the situation that many if not most flights are actually oversold and people might get bumped.
Stay safe everyone, especially those in the Southeastern United States!