Hurricane Michael Disrupts Air, Cruise Travel

by Jessica Montevago
Hurricane Michael Disrupts Air, Cruise Travel

Eight airlines have already issued travel waivers for Hurricane Michael. Photo: Delta Air Lines 

As Florida’s panhandle braces for the "potentially catastrophic" Hurricane Michael to make landfall late Wednesday, the storm is having an impact on travel across the southeastern U.S.

Now an intense Category 4 hurricane, the storm has maximum sustained wind speeds of 145 miles per hour, forcing airlines to ground flights and airports to temporarily cease operations. Florida airports in Tallahassee, Panama City, Pensacola and Destin-Fort Walton Beach said they will be closed to commercial flights as of Wednesday, with hopes to resume on Thursday. Nearly 200 flights to and from airports in the area are canceled for Wednesday, according to flight tracker FlightAware.

Eight airlines have already issued travel waivers for Hurricane Michael, with Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and United extending their waivers all the way up to Atlanta.

Delta Air Lines said it will be capping airfare to and from certain cities in Florida and Alabama between Tuesday and Thursday. Fares will be capped at $299 each way for coach class and $499 for first class to and from Pensacola, Panama City, Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Tallahassee, Florida; and Mobile, Alabama.

In addition to the cities above, Delta has expanded its travel waiver to include Albany, Augusta, and Valdosta in Georgia; and Dothan, Alabama; allowing customers traveling through impacted markets free checked baggage, pet-in-cabin fees and the ability to make a one-time change to their travel plans without incurring a fee. 

The airline also said it does not anticipate any impact to its operation at Hartsfield-Jackson "as the storm is expected to remain southeast of Atlanta while winds and rain are forecast to remain within operational limits."

Southwest Airlines is waiving the difference of fares for those traveling between Oct. 6-9 to or from Cancun and Havana; and passengers traveling between Oct. 9-11 to or from New Orleans, Panama City, or Pensacola. New flights must be booked within 14 days of the original trip.

United will waive any change fees and the difference in fares for flights between Oct. 9-11 for the following airports: Atlanta, Charleston, Columbia, Ft. Walton Beach, Greenville-Spartanburg, Mobile, Myrtle Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, and Savannah.

American Airlines is waiving rebooking fees for those traveling from Oct. 9-11 between Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, and Tallahassee, Florida; as well as Mobile, Alabama.

Passengers flying out of Atlanta on JetBlue on Oct. 10-11 can rebook their flights for travel through Oct. 13 at no charge. Customers with canceled flights may also opt for a refund to the original form of payment.

Other airlines that have issued similar waivers include WestJet, Frontier, and Allegiant.

Cruise lines have also been monitoring the storm’s path across the Gulf of Mexico and rerouting some of their ships. Norwegian Cruise Line’s biggest ship, the 4,248-passenger Norwegian Getaway, called on Falmouth, Jamaica, instead of Roatan, Honduras, on Tuesday. It will substitute a call at Grand Cayman for Costa Maya, Mexico, on Wednesday. The ship is expected to visit Cozumel on Friday, as scheduled.

Carnival Cruise Line made changes to several of its ships’ itineraries. The 2,980-passenger Carnival Glory skipped its call at Grand Cayman Monday for a day at sea. The ship departed Miami on Saturday on a seven-day voyage to the Western Caribbean.

On a weeklong Caribbean cruise, Carnival Freedom also spent Monday at sea, instead of calling at Mahogany Bay, Honduras. The ship will visit Belize on Wednesday.

After departing from New Orleans on Monday, Carnival Triumph altered its itinerary to visit the same ports but in reverse order, calling at Progreso, Mexico, on Wednesday and Cozumel on Thursday.

Royal Caribbean has not altered any ship itineraries. According to Royal Caribbean International’s Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet, “All Royal Caribbean ships have stayed behind the storm.” In a Twitter post, he said Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas will come in behind the storm when it returns to Tampa, and Liberty of the Seas is “staying to the Western Gulf until it is gone.”

Amtrak also said its Silver Star service from New York to Miami would operate from Miami to Jacksonville, Florida, beginning Wednesday; and the Palmetto, which runs between New York and Savannah, Georgia, will operate between New York and Washington, D.C., beginning Thursday. Amtrak is waiving fees for passengers who must change their reservations.

Tip of the Day
The professional travel advisor’s job is to equip the traveler with the necessary information to enable a good decision that will reflect that person’s own risk tolerance.
Paul Ruden
Daily Top List

Most Powerful Passports in the World

1. United Arab Emirates

2. Singapore

3. Germany

4. Denmark

5. Sweden

Source: Passport Index


How Will You Give Back This Year?

Learn from travel advisors who are positively impacting tourism through their sustainable travel efforts and empowering their clients to do the same. 

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Hertz and CLEAR Partner on 30-Second Car Rental
Hertz and CLEAR Partner on 30-Second Car Rental

A new service promises to get customers out the rental car exit gate using only biometrics, in less than 30 seconds.

Worldview Tours Suddenly Ceases Operations
Worldview Tours Suddenly Ceases Operations

After 40 years of doing business on the up-and-up, it was a shock to those who had worked with the company to see it go under.

What to Know About Navigating Marriott’s Massive Data Breach
What to Know About Navigating Marriott’s Massive Data Breach

Facing extensive costs as a result of the breach, Marriott is offering to pay for customers’ new passports and annual identity monitoring subscriptions.

Anchorage Assesses Damage After Powerful Quake
Anchorage Assesses Damage After Powerful Quake

The scenic Glenn Highway was the hardest hit during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Friday.

Marriott: 500 Million Starwood Guests Could Be Affected in Data Hack
Marriott: 500 Million Starwood Guests Could Be Affected in Data Hack

The Starwood guest reservation database was breached at brands including W Hotels, Sheraton and Westin.

St. Regis Opens First Canadian Hotel as New Toronto Location Debuts
St. Regis Opens First Canadian Hotel as New Toronto Location Debuts

Along with its luxurious accommodations and amenities, the five-star hotel offers its guests the hotelier’s hallmark butler service and its evening champagne sabering ritual.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tauck