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Hurricane Irene update: Airlines drop ticket change fees

August 26, 2011|Times staff reports
  • Shrimp boats are lashed by Hurricane Irene winds in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Shrimp boats are lashed by Hurricane Irene winds in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Major airlines have dropped ticket change fees for passengers scheduled to fly to or from many cities along the East Coast this weekend after canceling hundreds of flights in anticipation of Hurricane Irene.

Some airlines have extended change-fee waivers into early next week.

Because the East Coast is home to the nation's busiest airspace, the effect of the cancellations is expected to send ripples through the country's air travel system. With Saturday being a light travel day, the real impact of the storm may not be felt until Sunday and Monday.

JetBlue, which operates major hubs at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Logan International Airport in Boston, announced the cancellation of 891 flights from its East Coast airports on Sunday and Monday. The airline also was evaluating its flight plans for Saturday, waiting to determine the storm's path.

American Airlines officials said the air carrier had already canceled 32 flights from airports in North Carolina and Virginia and planned  to consider further cancellations at airports farther up the coast.

Southwest Airlines announced plans to temporarily suspend service to and from Norfolk International Airport in Virginia on Saturday, with service resuming once conditions improve. The airline did not say how many flights it was suspending.

Meanwhile, the storm has already forced more than 20 cruise ships to change their itineraries.

“We monitor the storms closely and make strategic changes to the itineraries to keep them away from the storm,” said Jennifer de la Cruz, a Carnival spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, the Bahamas is assessing the impact from the storm.

Bill Lee, general manager of Bimini Bay Resort & Marina, said: After extensive preparation efforts . . .  there was no damage to the resort. Cleanup has been minimal and all resort attractions, restaurants, beaches and the marina are open.”

Cruise ports in Nassau and Grand Bahama reopened Thursday evening, and ships are anticipated to resume calls Saturday.

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