According to the Weather Channel, “Hurricane Ian has grown in size over the last 24 hours and has begun to lash southern Florida.”
Travelers who are planning to travel Wednesday (September 28) and Thursday (September 29) are going to be in for a rough couple of travel days as airlines have canceled over 1,999 flights to, from and within the United States, according to FlightAware.
RELATED: How to Weather a Hurricane in a Hotel Room
To put that number into context, yesterday (Tuesday), there were only 401 canceled flights and the day before, just 132. Thursday isn’t going to be any better as airlines have already proactively canceled 1,300 flights and with this many cancelations, it usually takes the airlines several days to get back on schedule.
Airlines with the most cancelations as of 1:20am ET Wednesday:
American Airlines (483)
Southwest Airlines (360)
Allegiant Air (24)
Airports with the highest percentage of cancelations as of 1:20am ET Wednesday:
Southwest Florida Intl (RSW) 96%
Tampa Intl (TPA) 96%
Orlando Intl (MCO) 74%
Miami Intl (MIA) 43%
Fort Lauderdale Intl (FLL) 20%
Reagan National (DCA) 8%
Charlotte/Douglas Intl (CLT) 7%
LaGuardia (LGA) 7%
Hartsfield-Jackson Intl (ATL) 6%
John F Kennedy Intl (JFK) 6%
Boston Logan Intl (BOS) 6%
Newark Liberty Intl (EWR) 6%
Keep in mind these numbers will most likely increase dramatically since it’s so early. And these cancelations will affect all travelers not just those traveling to and/or from Florida as airlines will struggle to keep schedules on track as planes and crews will no longer be where they were supposed to be.
As planned, Tampa International Airport has now suspended operations due to Hurricane Ian.
The Airport is closed to all passengers and visitors, with only employees considered to be “storm riders” remaining on Airport property to assist with essential on-site tasks. pic.twitter.com/BLu4UOBW00
— Tampa International Airport ✈️ (@FlyTPA) September 27, 2022
Operational Update – Hurricane Ian
Commercial operations at MCO will cease at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, 09/28/22. Entry to all parking facilities will be closed at that same period. Please contact your airline for flight updates. pic.twitter.com/P75DooP2EA
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) September 27, 2022
⚠️ #WeatherAdvisory (09/27/22) ⚠️
MIA remains open. Flight operations are determined by the FAA and each individual airline. If you’re traveling soon, we recommend contacting your airline for flight updates. pic.twitter.com/DbbnvxQQvc
— Miami Int’l Airport (@iflymia) September 27, 2022
I had a JetBlue flight to Sarasota (Southwest Florida International, RSW) for Thursday at 1pm and the flight was canceled 36 hours before. What’s nice about airlines canceling so far in advance is that it allows travelers to stay put and not schlep to the airport only to be stuck for hours. It also gives the airlines a chance to get their crew and planes out of harm’s way.
RELATED: The Hurricane App That Floridians Use and Travelers Should Too
My advice: If the airline hasn’t canceled your flight and you’re traveling to an area that is going to be affected by the storm, then take advantage of the airline’s fee waiver and either change your flight for free for another time, take a credit or get a full refund.
By law, the Department of Transportation (DOT) states: “If your flight is cancelled and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation – even for non-refundable tickets. You are also entitled to a refund for any bag fee that you paid, and any extras you may have purchased, such as a seat assignment.” They also suggest: “If the airline offers you a voucher for future travel instead of a refund, you should ask the airline about any restrictions that may apply, such as blackout and expiration dates, advanced booking requirements, and limits on number of seats.”
Here’s more advice on what to do in weather delays and flight cancellations.