US Airlines Cancel Thousands of Flights Through Saturday

Airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale have reopened and several airlines have resumed operations

Hurricane Matthew cleared out of Florida's southern tip Friday morning and service gradually resumed in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale's airports. Orlando International Airport said it will resume operations at 6 a.m. Saturday, though many flights are still cancelled. 

However, as the storm moves north transit hubs in neighboring states tapered off flights or closed terminals altogether.

According to FlightAware, a site that tracks global flight statuses, Matthew has forced airlines to cancel more than 4,500 flights between Wednesday and Sunday.

Charleston International in South Carolina shut down operations Friday afternoon and cancelled all Saturday flights. The airport said plans for Sunday will be announced at a later time, and updates can be found here.

In Georgia, the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport closed at 12 a.m. Friday. The terminal is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. Sunday. 

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport, said it is monitoring the storm and asked passengers to check with their carrier for cancellations. Over 200 flights have been cancelled Friday and dozens more on Saturday.

The Air Force controls the runways and will dictate when to close the airfield. Service at the airport could resume Sunday, Campbell said.

Early Friday Ft.Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport announced that the airport's terminals were being reopened and that "our airline partners are implementing their plans to resume service later this morning," the airport announced in a tweet.

The number of canceled flights globally on Friday morning was down to 1,946 from Thursday's 2,800, according to FlightAware. As Miami and Fort Lauderdale clear up, the number of delays and cancellations will continue to decline.

American Airlines announced Friday that most of its flights would resume sometime Friday morning or afternoon. The airlines saw its first arrival at Miami International Airport at 9:05 a.m with a flight from São Paulo, Brazil. A reduced departure schedule began Friday at 1 p.m. and a full departure schedule was expected at 4 p.m.

As the storm tracked northward, Delta Airlines also resumed flights Friday morning to Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

Miami, along with Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, both shut down Thursday. Fort Lauderdale halted operations at 10:30 a.m. with Miami following at noon.

Orlando International Airport announced Thursday afternoon that it would cease commercial operations at 8 p.m. ET. It anticipates to resume flights on Saturday, Oct. 8, contingent on staff availability and clean-up ability. 

All flights to and from Orlando have been cancelled Friday and half scrapped Saturday. FlightAware expects that number to rise. Orlando's world-famous theme parks — Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld — all closed due to the storm.

Orlando Melbourne International Airport closed at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. It was not clear when it expect to reopen. Jacksonville International Airport remains open, but noted several flights have been canceled. "Check flight status with your airline before coming to the airport," JAX wrote in a tweet.

The Palm Beach International Airport also reopened Friday and many airlines planned to resume operations from the terminal. The airport advised passengers to check with their airline before going to the airport as several flights remain cancelled.

Changing Flights

Hurricane Matthew has prompted airlines to offer travel waivers to passengers scheduled to fly from airports impacted by the storm.

Airlines had previously offered Matthew-related change-fee waivers to areas in the Caribbean hit by the powerful hurricane but are now extending them to cover U.S. airports as well.

American said it would waive change fees on trips scheduled between Oct. 5 to Oct. 9 from certain airports in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina. The airline had already offered waivers on trips scheduled through Thursday in several Caribbean nations including Cuba.

United Airlines said it would waive change fees and any difference in fare for customers scheduled to fly Wednesday through Friday to, from or through five airports in Florida. The waiver has also been extended to several airports in the Carolinas and Georgia.

Delta waived change fees on flights to, from and through the Caribbean between Oct. 2 and Oct. 6 that may have been impacted by Matthew. Flights Thursday and Friday in or out of eight Florida cities as well as to and from several airports in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia can also be changed without incuring fee. Customers who wish to cancel a trip as a result of a flight cancellation are entitled to a refund.

JetBlue Airways said passengers flying Thursday through Sunday to or from eight cities in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina can change planes without a fee or additional fare. A similar offer covers Caribbean travel through Thursday.

Spirit Airlines said it would waive the change fee and fare difference on Florida trips Thursday and Friday.

Southwest Airlines will allow customers with flight reservations scheduled to arrive or depart cities that have been affected by or will be in the storm's path between Oct. 2 and Oct. 7, to re-book a new trip or travel standby within 14 days of their original travel date. 


Cruises have also been affected by Hurricane Matthew, with Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line all rerouting some ships or modifying the order of ports.

For instance, the Carnival Elation — which is currently in the middle of a five-day cruise — is skipping Half Moon Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas, adding in an extra day at sea and an extra day in Key West, Florida. The Carnival Conquest skipped a stop in the Dominican Republic for an extra day at sea.

Royal Caribbean, however, has changed the date for at least one cruise sailing out of Port Miami. The Empress of the Seas will now depart Friday instead of Thursday.

Port Canaveral has announced it will close by Wednesday afternoon, the first time the naval port has shut down operations since 2004.

Bus and Rail

Amtrak suspended passenger rail service through Friday between Miami and New York and the auto train between Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida. A line that normally runs from New York to Savannah, Georgia, only went as far south as Washington.

Transit Operations have also been affected by the storm. Broward County Transit will cancel all scheduled bus service and paratransit service for Thursday. The county said it will decide on what service will run on Friday and Thursday evening. 

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