Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida panhandle this morning with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, and it’s “extremely dangerous.” The hurricane is expected to make landfall today, and Florida has issued mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in at least 22 counties on the Gulf Coast.
Widespread travel disruptions are expected for Wednesday and Thursday, and most airlines are bracing themselves for canceled flights and frustrated passengers. Travelers heading to the airport should keep an eye on FlightAware’s Misery Map, which provides updates on cancellations. Many airlines have started issuing waivers to allow flexible travelers the chance to rebook out of the path of the storm.
Here are the airlines’ responses to Hurricane Michael so far:
- American: Passengers traveling from October 9-11 to Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Panama City, Florida, or Mobile, Alabama, can rebook travel between October 8-13 with no change fees. Alternatively, American is letting travelers choose to “delay your trip” for up to one year beyond original ticketing. Get details and make changes on American’s website.
- Delta: So far, Delta is the only airline to cap fares. From Tuesday through Thursday, it will charge no more than $299 for economy and $499 for first-class tickets for one-way flights to/from Pensacola, Panama City, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Tallahassee, and Mobile, Alabama. It is allowing passengers traveling to the affected airports between October 9-10 to rebook flights before October 13. If no flights are available, customers may cancel and get a travel credit for the value of their ticket. Get details on Delta’s website.
- Southwest: Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier in Atlanta, warned that flights could be disrupted in Atlanta through Friday, including flights to Cancun, Mexico, and Havana, Cuba; and from Tuesday through Thursday in New Orleans and Panama City and Pensacola, Florida. Southwest said customers who have flights booked to, from, or through those cities from October 9-11 can rebook without paying an additional charge, under certain restrictions.
- JetBlue: Passengers flying in or out of Atlanta between October 10-11 may rebook their flights for travel through October 13 or opt for a refund. Make the change online in the Manage Flights section of jetblue.com or by calling 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) prior to the departure time of the originally scheduled flight.
- Frontier: Passengers flying to Pensacola or Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; or Birmingham, Alabama, who are ticketed to travel between October 9-11, may make one itinerary change with all fees waived. Origin and destination cities may be changed. However, travel must be completed no later than October 31. Customers whose flights are cancelled may request a refund. Details here.
- Allegiant: Allegiant’s website warns that its service may be disrupted due to the weather, but currently doesn’t seem to be allowing free changes for tickets. If your flight has been canceled or rescheduled to the next day, head to Manage Travel to figure out refund and rescheduling options. Travelers should monitor this page for updates or changes or call Allegiant Customer Care at 702-505-8888 to plead your case. Perhaps show them this picture of Hurricane Michael?
- United: Passengers flying to Atlanta; Savannah; Charleston; Greenville-Spartanburg; Myrtle Beach; Columbia, South Carolina; Ft. Walton Beach; Panama City; Pensacola, Florida; or Mobile, Alabama, will have fees and fare differences waived for United flights departing from October 8-18, for travel between the originally ticketed cities. Change fees will also be waived for flights departing after October 18, or with changes to departure or destination city, but passengers will have to pay fare differences. Check United’s website for details.