CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Hurricane Idalia is expected to get stronger as it makes its way toward Florida’s Gulf Coast on Tuesday.
The storm could prompt travel problems, and significant airline delays are possible for flights in and out of the region for the next two days. Unfortunately, extreme weather events like hurricanes are outside airlines’ control, so travelers should not automatically expect a full refund if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed.
Airlines have varying policies, so as a traveler you need to make sure to read the fine print carefully. The good news is some airlines have been offering people flight waivers. These flight waivers can help you leave a few days earlier or after your previously booked flights.
“Essentially, if they know that weather is coming and they know that it’s probably going to impact some flights in a certain area, usually a few days before that they’ll get a travel waiver notice from your airline that says they can, for free of charge, you can change your flight to any day between this certain time,” said Anne Lischwe, AAA Northeast Travel Sales Manager.
Some airports, like Tampa International, closed all commercial airline traffic at midnight last night, and they will remain closed until they can assess any damage after the storm passes. But other airports in the state of Florida have not announced any closures as they continue to monitor the storm.
If you have any travel plans, AAA advises you to check to see if you have received a flight waiver to rebook your flight and turn on alerts on your phone to stay ahead of this storm.
As of noon on Tuesday, the flight tracking website FlightAware shows that Southwest Airlines has over 144 cancellations alone, and other airlines like United, Delta, and American Airlines have about 150 delays combined and nearly 200 cancellations.
Several airlines are helping their passengers by allowing them to make flight changes for free within a certain amount of time. These storms may be impacting your travel plans but we are not seeing any intense weather here.