Hurricane Florence: Airlines Waiving Change Fees, Canceling Flights Ahead of Storm

In preparation for Hurricane Florence's impending wrath, several airlines said they would waive fees for customers who wanted to change their flights, and that many flights would be canceled diverted or delyaed in the wake of the storm.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines announced in a travel advisory that because of predicted weather conditions, flights going to and from nine airports along the eastern coast could be delayed, diverted or canceled. The airports that could be affected include:

  • Baltimore/Washington (BWI)
  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Charlotte, NC (CLT)
  • Greenville-Spartanburg, SC (GSP)
  • Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA (ORF)
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU)
  • Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Washington Dulles International (IAD)
  • Washington, D.C. (Reagan National–DCA)

Customers who had flights to, from or through any of the listed airports from September 10 to September 17 were given the opportunity to rebook the ticket for another flight within 14 days of their original date with the same class of service. As long as the ticket is rebooked in accordance with Southwest's accommodation policy—rebooked for a flight within 14 days to and from the original cities—the change could be done at no additional charge.

If a ticket wasn't purchased through Southwest.com, the airline recommended travelers contact customer service to speak with a representative.

Multiple flights scheduled to take off from Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday were listed as "canceled" on Southwest's website as of Tuesday.

American Airlines

A travel advisory issued by American Airlines explained the airline's policy in regard to having the change fee waived in light of Hurricane Florence. To avoid paying a fee for changing flights, customers must have purchased a ticket by September 10 and be traveling between September 10 and September 16. Travel must be rebooked for some time between September 10 and September 19 and be in the same cabin as the original ticket.

Airports affected by the travel alert were listed as:

  • Asheville, NC (AVL)
  • Augusta, GA (AGS)
  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Charlotte, NC (CLT)
  • Charlottesville, VA (CHO)
  • Columbia, SC (CAE)
  • Fayetteville, NC(FAY)
  • Florence, SC (FLO)
  • Greensboro/High Point, NC (GSO)
  • Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP)
  • Greenville, NC(PGV)
  • Hampton/Newport News, VA (PHF)
  • Hilton Head, SC (HHH)
  • Jacksonville, NC (OAJ)
  • Lynchburg, VA (LYH)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
  • New Bern, NC (EWN)
  • Norfolk, VA (ORF)
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU)
  • Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Roanoke, VA (ROA)
  • Savannah, GA(SAV)
  • Wilmington, NC (ILM)

Travelers could change their trips online or call reservations to rebook.

airlines hurricane florence change fees, cancellations
Travelers stand in line as they wait to get to the United Airlines ticket counter at Newark Liberty International Airport on August 29, 2011, in Newark, New Jersey. Ahead of Hurricane Florence, several airlines waived change and cancellation fees for passengers traveling to or from areas that may be hit by the storm. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Delta

If a flight is canceled or delayed 90 minutes or more because of Hurricane Florence, Delta will offer customers a full refund for the unused portion of their tickets. If a flight isn't canceled, customers can still change their tickets without paying an additional fee if they're flying to, from, or through the following airports:

  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Fayetteville, NC (FAY)
  • Greensboro, NC(GSO)
  • Jacksonville, NC(OAJ)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
  • New Bern, NC (EWN)
  • Norfolk, VA (ORF)
  • Newport News, VA (PHF)
  • Raleigh-Durham, NC(RDU)
  • Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Savannah, GA (SAV)
  • Wilmington, NC (ILM)

If travelers reschedule their travel dates for after September 20, the change fee will be waived but they may have to pay a difference in fare prices. For customers who cannot reschedule travel within the September 20 deadline, Delta is offering the option of canceling the ticket and applying the unused value to a new ticket. The new ticket must be used within a year of the original ticket's issue date, and fees may apply.

To further accommodate passengers, Delta is also waiving baggage and pet-in-cabin fees. Pets in the cabin must still fit comfortably in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of its owner, Delta lifted the cap on the number of pets that could be in the cabin during any given flight.

Frontier

Frontier announced guidelines for customers with plans to travel between September 10 and September 16 to or from seven different airports, but the advisory didn't explain what those guidelines were. Newsweek reached out to Frontier for clarification but did not receive an immediate response.

JetBlue

On Tuesday morning, JetBlue announced that because of Hurricane Florence, the airline was waiving cancellation and change fees, as well as fare differences for anyone traveling from September 13 through September 15. Five airports were listed as eligible for the fee waiver:

  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Charlotte, NC (CLT)
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU)
  • Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Savannah, GA (SAV)

Travel must have been booked on or before September 10 and must be rebooked for sometime before September 20.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit customers planning to travel between September 12 and September 16 to, from or through airports in Asheville and Greenville, North Carolina, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or Richmond, Virginia, could change their flights at no additional cost.

Travelers had to fly before September 20 to avoid paying a modification charge or any difference in fares. If rebooking travel for after September 20, Spirit will still waive the change fee but explained that a fare difference may apply.

airlines waive change fees cancel flights hurricane florence
A US Airways jet prepares to land at Reagan National Airport on August 31, 2005, in Washington, D.C. Ahead of Hurricane Florence's predicted landfall, American Airlines, United Airlines and various other airlines offered passengers the option to change flights coming to or from affected areas for no additional charge. TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

United Airlines

Ahead of Hurricane Florence's predicted landfall, United Airlines issued a travel advisory for a whopping 16 airports, including:

  • Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP)
  • Columbia, SC (CAE)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Wilmington, NC (ILM)
  • Fayetteville, NC (FAY)
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU)
  • Charlotte, NC (CLT)
  • Greensboro, NC (GSO)
  • Asheville, NC (AVL)
  • Roanoke, VA (ROA)
  • Norfolk, VA (ORF)
  • Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Charlottesville, VA (CHO)
  • Shenandoah Valley Airport, VA (SHD)
  • Savannah, GA (SAV)

Change fees and fare differences were waived for customers flying between the dates of September 10 and September 16 as long as the rescheduled travel was between the same cities and in the original fare class. Rebooked travel also had to occur by September 20 to avoid having to pay any extra charges.

If passengers want to change the cities they're traveling between or travel after September 20, the change fee would still be waived but there could be additional fees because of the difference in fare.

Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air informed passengers that because of the forecast surrounding Hurricane Florence, service could be disrupted going to or from various airports between September 12 and September 16, including:

  • Asheville, NC (AVL)
  • Charleston, SC (CHS)
  • Concord, NC (USA)
  • Greensboro, NC (GSO)
  • Greenville, SC (GSP)
  • Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
  • Norfolk, VA (ORF)
  • Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Roanoke, VA (ROA)
  • Savannah, GA (SAV)

In an effort to accommodate passengers, anyone with a reservation to or from the cities listed could request a one-time change without paying any change or cancellation fees. Flights could not be changed online, and passengers have to call Allegiant Customer Care, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The only restriction on changing travel is that it must be changed within 14 days of the advisory. Tickets could be changed for any future open dates to any city in the Allegiant network, excluding San Juan, Puerto Rico.

During a weather advisory, passengers under the age of 18 are not permitted to fly on Allegiant Air unless accompanied by someone over the age of 18.

Hurricane Florence strengthened to a Category 4 storm on Monday, prompting evacuation notices for areas of the Carolina coast. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain, flooding and dangerous wind conditions to southern parts of the East Coast on Thursday.

Hurricane Florence: Airlines Waiving Change Fees, Canceling Flights Ahead of Storm | U.S.