Airlines offer fare caps amid worry about Puerto Rico flight prices in wake of earthquakes

As some people in Puerto Rico are trying to head to Florida after the country experienced a series of earthquakes earlier this week, airlines say they are offering affordable fights and instituting fare caps.

a pile of luggage sitting on top of a car: "It doesn't seem right," says Kathleen Crowley, a frequent flyer and fashion designer who lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She recently booked a "basic" economy class seat on American Airlines, and it came without the ability to reserve a seat.  "When I buy a plane ticket, am I not buying a seat on that plane?" she asks.

JetBlue and American Airlines said they were capping fares after some travelers took to social media to complain about high flight prices.

“Flights out of San Juan, #PuertoRico to Florida have quadrupled after strong earthquake hit the island earlier in the morning,” claimed user @otranattt on Twitter.

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In a statement to USA TODAY Thursday provided by spokesperson Martha Patin, American Airlines assured travelers there is “no price-gouging” going on. The statement explained flights are “extremely full with very limited inventory through Sunday” due to the earthquake occurring at the end of the high-season holiday travel period.

“We did institute a $299 one-way fare on direct non-stop flights valid through tomorrow,” the statement continued. “Because of the limited inventory, and to give customers even greater flexibility this one-way fare on non-stop flights was also instituted on flight from St. Thomas and St. Croix, USVI.”

a castle on top of a stone building: What Puerto Rico tourists need to know in wake of earthquakes

In a statement to USA TODAY provided Thursday by spokesperson Derek Dombrowski, JetBlue stated it also  capped prices for non-stop flights to and from the island through Friday.

“While we are taking these steps to support our Puerto Rican community, seat availability is very limited due to previous high demand because of the holiday,” the statement continued.

JetBlue also added three flights to curb demand.

USA TODAY has also reached out to Spirit Airlines, Delta and the U.S. Department of Transportation for comment.

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake rumbled across Puerto Rico on Tuesday, killing at least one person and knocking out power to virtually the entire island of more than 3 million.

An aftershock three hours later registered 6.0-magnitude. The temblors came one day after the island was shaken by a 5.8 magnitude quake that crumbled homes and triggered states of emergency across the island.

Tuesday’s quake was the largest in a series of quakes that have struck the U.S. territory in recent days and caused heavy damage in some areas, forcing more than 300 Puerto Ricans to leave their homes and seek refuge. 

Contributing: David Oliver, John Bacon and Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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