Most outbound flights from Miami International were gone by early afternoon. Airport officials said in a tweet that they expected the last inbound flight to land at 3:15 p.m. The last flight out of Fort Lauderdale was a Southwest airliner bound for Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. It left Florida at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time and arrived in Baltimore at 1 p.m.
Travelers holding tickets for areas likely to be hit by Matthew are urged to contact their airline to rebook travel. In most cases, airlines are waiving rebooking fees and in some instances differences in fares for new tickets. Even though planes aren’t flying, most of the airports will remain open to accommodate passengers. At Miami International officials announced at least five shops and restaurants would offer 24-hour service.
But officials also cautioned people against using airports to shelter from the hurricane, directing them instead to established hurricane shelters.
American Airlines announced Wednesday that it was canceling all flights out of Miami International, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Palm Beach International airports on Thursday. Delta Air Lines canceled about 120 flights and United Airlines about 60 flights at the same three airports on Thursday.
Matthew barreled toward Florida’s Atlantic coast Thursday afternoon, making it the strongest storm system to threaten the United States in a decade. Governors in four states — Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina — have declared a state of emergency and urged residents to seek shelter away from coastal areas. More than 2 million people from Florida to South Carolina were under evacuation orders.
“This is serious,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said Thursday morning during a briefing. “This storm will kill you. Time is running out.”
The storm is blamed for more than 100 deaths already, as it passed over Haiti and through the Caribbean.