Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights and are offering fee waivers to travelers as Hurricane Michael batters the Florida Panhandle. Michael made landfall Wednesday after strengthening into a powerful Category 4 storm. Officials at Amtrak said they have also modified service in Florida and the Southeast.
Already more than 300 flights have been canceled due to Michael, according to FlightAware.com. Many airports in the region closed just after midnight in preparation for its landfall.
Tallahassee International Airport was closed to all but military and emergency relief flights. Flight operations at Northwest Florida Beaches International in Panama City, also were affected. Pensacola International and Destin-Fort Walton Beach airports also closed at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Although officials at Tallahassee International said they expected to resume flights on Thursday, travelers are urged to check with their airlines to be certain.
The Florida Department of Transportation urged drivers to dial 511 from their mobile phones for the latest updates on road conditions. Updates also are available at www.FL511.com.
If you’re traveling on American Airlines, you may be able to rebook tickets without paying a change fee if you’re scheduled to travel through the airports listed below. You must have purchased your ticket by Oct. 8 for travel between Oct. 9 and 11. Travel must be between Oct. 8 and 14, and you cannot change the origin or destination city. You must also rebook in the same class of service or pay the difference.
- Augusta, Ga. (AGS)
- Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (VPS)
- Charleston, S.C. (CHS)
- Columbia, S.C. (CAE)
- Florence, S.C. (FLO)
- Hilton Head, S.C. (HHH)
- Mobile, Ala. (MOB)
- Myrtle Beach, S.C. (MYR)
- Panama City, Fla. (ECP)
- Pensacola, Fla. (PNS)
- Savannah, Ga. (SAV)
- Tallahassee (TLH)
American Airlines has also activated its disaster response fundraising platform to collect donations for the American Red Cross. It is offering miles through its frequent-flier program for every dollar donated.
Some travelers may be able to make changes online. If you are eligible, the “change trip” icon will appear in the toolbar when you go online to search for your trip.
If you’re flying on Delta and want to change your trip as a result of a cancellation or a flight delay of 90 minutes or more, you may be entitled to a refund on the unused portion of your ticket if travel takes you through the following airports: in Alabama, Mobile; in Georgia: Albany, Augusta, Brunswick, Columbus, Savannah and Valdosta; in Florida: Fort Walton, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Panama City; in South Carolina, Columbia.
The airline is also waiving all baggage and pet-in-cabin feels for travel to and from cities likely to be affected by Hurricane Michael.
United Airlines also announced it had canceled several flights.
Service on some Amtrak routes has been modified as a result of Michael:
• Amtrak Silver Star Trains 91 & 92 (New York — Miami) will operate only between Miami and Jacksonville through at least Thursday.
No substitute transportation will be provided between Jacksonville and New York.
• Amtrak Palmetto Trains 89 & 90 (New York — Savannah) will only operate between New York and Washington through at least Thursday.
No substitute transportation will be provided between Washington and Savannah, Ga.
Amtrak will try to accommodate customers with reservations on affected trains by booking them on other trains with similar departure times or for travel on another day. It will also offer fee waivers for customers looking to change their reservations. Travelers can call Amtrak’s reservation center at 800-USA-RAIL.