Hurricane Maria prompts Caribbean flight cancellations and capped airfares
Storm forecast to take aim at Turks and Caicos Islands.
A number of major airlines have canceled flights, begun waiving change fees and are offering capped airfares for customers traveling to and from parts of the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Maria.
As with the devastation caused by powerful storm surges brought by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in the Lesser Antilles and Florida, Hurricane Maria is expected to batter the northern Caribbean islands.
The now Category 3 storm ravaged the US territory of Puerto Rico earlier this week, slammed the Dominican Republic, knocking out power to the entire island, and is forecast to take aim at the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Delta Air Lines is waiving change fees for passengers booked to, from or through Punta Cana, Santiago or Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and San Juan, Puerto Rico between September 19-26. The US carrier has also capped one-way airfares at $199 for direct flights departing these airports through September 21, 2017.
Tickets must be re-issued on or before October 2 and re-booked travel must begin no later than the same date.
Passengers traveling to, from or through the islands of St. Thomas, St Maarten and Turks Caicos have also been offered change fee waivers, with re-booked travel needing to occur on or before October 31, 2018.
Delta said it would also aim to restart flights to St. Maarten on Saturday, subject to airport facility conditions.
The carrier is also enforcing a temporary policy to waive all baggage and pet-in-cabin fees for customers traveling to or from the above-mentioned destinations, applicable now through to September 25, 2017.
Southwest Airlines canceled flights to and from San Juan and Punta Cana on Wednesday and Thursday and said these services, plus flights to/from Puerto Rico, may continue to be affected until the end of the month.
The low-cost airline also issued a statement advising customers with reservations through September 30 that they could rebook in the original class of service or travel standby without paying any additional charges.
American Airlines canceled all September 21 flights in and out of the Dominican Republic’s Puerto Plata and Punta Cana airports, as well as those for San Juan in Puerto Rico. There are also scattered cancellations for Santiago and Santo Domingo on Thursday.
Additionally, all flights to and from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands and St. Croix Island, US Virgin Islands are canceled until September 22. In St. Maarten operations remain suspended due to Hurricane Irma, with plans to resume services on October 1, 2017.
Similarly American Airlines plans to resume operations to and from St. Thomas from September 23, 2017.
The airline also capped main cabin fares at $99 and premium cabin fares at $199 each way on direct, single leg flights from select cities affected by Hurricane Maria. These caps apply through September 24, 2017.
British Airways’ Gatwick to Antigua service on September 21 will go ahead but won’t travel on to Providenciales due to forecast weather conditions and likely airport closure. Affected clients can contact customer services for alternative solutions. Return flights from Gatwick to Punta Cana on September 21 have also been cancelled.
The airline is currently reviewing similar flight operations originally planned for Sunday 24 September.
British Airways passengers affected by Maria traveling through Sunday September 24 can delay flights up until Saturday October 14 or use the value of their fare to rebook to an alternative British Airways destination. Those already in the region can also rebook with oneworld partner American Airlines on flights via Miami.
If you are travelling in or through the affected area, check your airline’s travel advisory for updates.
While most of Florida’s power has been restored and its airports resume full services, the latest claims data, supplied by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, reveals a growing insurance bill of almost $2 billion.
Additionally, global analytics firm CoreLogic estimates total insured and uninsured losses for both residential and commercial properties, as a result of Hurricane Irma, to be between $42.5 billion and $65 billion.
Compare travel insurance policies in preparation for your next trip.