Nearly 1000 Flights Canceled, 13000 Delayed as Florence Wreaks Havoc with Travel

Just What the Storm Surge from Hurricane Florence Could Look Like
  • Flight disruptions are anticipated at more than a dozen airports nationwide.
  • Major and smaller airports from Georgia to Virginia are already seeing flight disruptions because of Florence.

Nearly 900 flights have already been canceled as of Wednesday evening in anticipation of Hurricane Florence making landfall along the east coast of the United States.

The website FlightAware said there were 893 total cancelations and 13,438 delays as of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Major and smaller airports from Georgia to Virginia are already seeing flight disruptions because of the storm.

Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham and Greensboro airports in North Carolina as well as Richmond and Norfolk in Virginia are among the biggest inland airports looking at air traffic disruptions due to Florence. Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina is one of the busiest hubs for American Airlines, and is most likely to be most impacted by the storm, given current trajectories.

Airports in the Washington, D.C. metro area – Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport – are no longer in the storm's direct path, though they had been near Florence’s cone of uncertainty earlier this week. While the cone has shifted south since initial forecasts, the airports are still on alert.

(MORE: The Latest Forecast)

This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (NASA via AP)

Operations will stop in airports along the Carolina coast ahead of landfall until the storm moves inland. The airports serving Charleston and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina, are among the coastal airports most likely to be directly impacted. Dozens of airports in the region will probably see disruptions of some sort. Depending on the storm’s speed, airports could shut down as early as Thursday morning.

Current forecasts also call for Florence to stall out over the mid-Atlantic after it approaches the coast. If the storm blocks flight paths along the busy East Coast corridor, it could force delays and cancellations similar to the way long lines of thunderstorms do. That could lead to delays and cancellations in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Atlanta as airlines and air traffic control react to the reduced airspace capacity.

Many have started waving their flight change fees ahead of the storm to enable as many people to leave the area as possible, and as to assist those who may have otherwise been planning to fly into the region this week.  

Delta Air Lines implemented a policy that will entitle passengers to claim a refund if their flight to an affected city is canceled or delayed beyond 90 minutes. Destinations include Charleston and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Wilmington in North Carolina; and Norfolk and Richmond in Virginia. Delta is also waiving baggage and in-cabin pet fees for several affected cities through Sept. 17. This act comes just two weeks after Delta was accused of price gouging during Hurricane Gordon.

American Airlines, which has a hub in Charlotte, waived its change fees on flights involving 23 airports in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia for travel through Sept. 19. United Airlines has agreed to waive rebooking fees in connection to 16 impacted airports through Sept. 16. In light of the storm.

Southwest Airlines is allowing those flying in or out of nine directly impacted airports to rebook their flight without a change fee.

JetBlue will waive change and cancellation fees and fare differences for customers traveling today through Sunday to or from impacted airports. Passengers whose flights are canceled flights are entitled to reach out to the airlines for a full refund. More information about all of these policies are available on the airline websites.

If your flight is canceled due to the storm, you str most often not entitled to any additional compensation. Legally, airlines affected by flight disruptions due to severe weather owe their customers either a seat on the next available flight out or a refund on their ticket. The airline is not required to compensate for any other damages.

It is currently premature to outline the full impacts that this storm and its ensuing damage will have on air travel. As the Federal Aviation Administration writes, “Once Hurricane Florence makes ground fall, airports may be listed as 'open' but flooding on local roadways may limit access to airports for passengers, as well as the employees who work for the airlines or at the airport. As a result, every aspect of your trip to the airport, including parking, checking in, getting through security and boarding may take longer than usual.”

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The outer bands of Hurricane Florence are visible as the storm approaches, on Sept. 12, 2018 in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Hurricane Florence is expected on Friday possibly as a Category 3 or 4 storm along the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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