WASHINGTON — While the exact path of Hurricane Florence is still to be determined, what is already certain is the threat of devastating wind and rain will affect air travel for the next several days.
“We’ve seen more than 600 flights cancelled through Thursday, and that’s going to continue well into Saturday, said Ben Mutzabaugh, editor of USA Today’s Today In The Sky blog.
He said airlines have been aggressively working with passengers to get them where they want to go early, or rebook them after Florence passes.
“In this age of social media you’ll see pictures of people on cots or in airport chairs complaining ‘my airline stuck me here in the Carolinas. Whether there’s a hurricane or not, it’s not good press,” Mutzabaugh said.
The most severe airport disruptions are expected in the Carolinas, however a forecast tweak Tuesday evening means Florence may affect the world’s busiest airport — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“This storm is now moving a little closer to Atlanta,” said Mutzabaugh. “It’s not going to shut down the airport, but any time you get a big swirling storm with thunderstorms blocking flight paths, it can create delays and cancellations.”
Even if your travel plans don’t begin or end in a city under threat from Florence, Mutzabaugh said be leery of connecting flights.
“If you’re flying on Delta, going into Atlanta between now and Monday, and definitely if you’re flying through Charlotte on American, and connecting somewhere else, call your airline and say ‘can you send me through Chicago, or Dallas, or Detroit, or some other city instead.”
In attempting to forecast how long air travel will be affected by the hurricane, Mutzabaugh said it depends on Florence: “How long this storm sits and spins in the southeast?”
“I don’t think beyond the the coast of the Carolinas we’re going to see major airports shut down,” said Mutzabaugh. “Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham are certainly going to be affected — the real question for me is Atlanta.”
Each airline had its own policy in place, though all of the region’s largest carriers were offering a flexible rebooking policy and the ability to make changes to their tickets without incurring additional fees.
For specific information, follow the links below to each carrier’s advisory.
RAIL SERVICE IMPACTED
Florence is also already impacting rail service.
Amtrak has announced schedule changes and cancellations between Sept. 12 through Sept. 16.
As of the latest update on Sept. 10, the following train services have been canceled:
Trains CANCELED Wednesday, Sept. 12 — Sunday, Sept. 16:
Auto Train (Lorton, Va. — Sanford, Fla.): Trains 52 — 53
Silver Meteor (New York City — Miami): Trains 97 — 98
Crescent (New York City — New Orleans): Trains 19 — 20
Trains CANCELED Thursday, Sept. 13 — Sunday, Sept. 16
Carolinian (New York City — Charlotte, N.C.): Trains 79 — 80
Piedmont (Raleigh, N.C. — Charlotte, N.C.): Trains 73 — 78
Silver Star (New York City — Miami): Trains 91 — 92 will operate between Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami only
Northeast Regional service will not operate south of D.C.
Amtrak’s Palmetto and Cardinal lines will operate on a modified schedule. For information, see Amtrak’s travel advisory.