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Here’s what major airlines are doing to help travelers escape Hurricane Irma, from fare caps to waivers

Here’s what major airlines are doing to help travelers escape Hurricane Irma, from fare caps to waivers
Tourists wait to catch a shuttle to a shelter as the city announced a mandatory evacuation ahead of the approaching Hurricane Irma. [Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, the airlines are racing to do their part to help people escape from the hurricane’s path–although some only did so after getting blasted on social media for alleged price gouging.

Now, most major airlines that operate flights out of Florida are capping fares as people follow government orders to evacuate the region before the Category 5 hurricane potentially makes landfall.

  • JetBlue, which was never accused of jacking up their fares, is currently “offering any remaining seats in select markets” at reduced fares of between $99 and $159, including flights from Florida, the Caribbean, and even Charleston, North Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.
  • American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, has capped the price of main cabin seats on single leg flights at $99.
  • Delta Air Lines announced it won’t charge more than $399 for one-way tickets on all flights out of southern Florida and the Caribbean. That price cap will apply to all seats, including first class. They are also waiving all baggage and pet-in-cabin fees for customers traveling to or from the cities covered by a weather waiver issued for the region this week. Unsurprisingly, they are one of the few airlines with seats available.
  • United Airlines is offering travel waivers to travelers with booked flights to, from, or through select airports in the Caribbean and Florida.

Airlines offering price caps say they will be in effect through September 13. However, customers need to be aware that many of the flights are already fully booked and many of the airlines are winding down operations in advance of the storm, canceling flights to keep their crew and planes safe.

While ticket prices are typically set by algorithms that respond to supply and demand—and last-minute tickets are usually more expensive—some consumers are complaining of price gouging. According to CNN, the U.S. Department of Transportation has already “received consumer complaints” about potential price abuse from areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, as well as Irma.