What travelers need to know about Hurricane Dorian flight waivers and more

As Hurricane Dorian hurtles into the Caribbean, travelers may want (or need) to reconsider trip plans — especially since the storm isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. 

Dorian is expected to strengthen over the next 24 hours, and the threat of winds and heavy rains reaching Florida this weekend is increasing, the National Hurricane Center said. The latest track has Dorian as a Category 3 major hurricane with winds at 115 mph off the east coast of Florida on Sunday into Monday morning.

Florida residents “should monitor the progress of Dorian and ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place,” the weather service said Tuesday.

In order to help travelers know their options, we’ve rounded up info on airline and cruise modifications due to the weather.

And if you’re thinking of buying travel insurance now, it’s most likely too late. If you wait to buy coverage until a hurricane appears imminent, has formed, or has been named, insurance companies can claim the storm in question was a “foreseeable event,” which is ineligible for coverage, according to SmarterTravel.com.

Every travel insurance policy is different, but some stipulate that you must purchase coverage 24 hours prior to the storm being named, while some require you to purchase even sooner. 

Hurricane Dorian airline waivers

In addition to warning passengers of potential cancellations, some airlines are already waiving change fees for flights to, from and through the Caribbean. Most airlines are also issuing refunds for canceled flights. Passengers should monitor airline websites for changes, but as of Wednesday, here were the U.S. airlines offering travel waivers: 

Delta is waiving the change fee for customers with flights scheduled through Aug. 29 to, from or through Port-au-Prince, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; St. Lucia; and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

American is also waiving the change fee for flights scheduled through Aug. 31 for multiple areas in the Bahamas and Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos islands.

Southwest says travelers to the following locations can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby without paying any additional charge: Providenciales; Punta Cana; San Juan; Nassau, Bahamas; and multiple airports in Florida.

Spirit is waiving change fees for flights scheduled through Aug. 30 going to, from or through Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; Port-au-Prince, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, San Juan and Santiago.

Frontier is waiving fees for changing flights scheduled through Aug. 30 to, from or through Punta Cana and San Juan.

United is waiving change fees and any difference in airfare for flights scheduled through Aug. 29 to, from or through Aguadilla, Punta Cana and San Juan.

JetBlue is waiving change/cancellation fees and fare differences for customers flying through Aug. 29 to, from or through: Aguadilla and Ponce, Puerto Rico; San Juan; and St. Thomas. 

Cruise modifications

Cruise lines sailing from Port Canaveral have begun to modify their itineraries to avoid Hurricane Dorian.

Royal Caribbean has modified the itineraries of three ships – Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas – from eastern to western Caribbean routes.

Disney Cruise Line changed the itinerary of its Port Canaveral-based Disney Fantasy, from an eastern Caribbean to a western Caribbean route.

Contributing: Ryan W. Miller, Dave Berman

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