Airlines and cruise lines have geared up for Matthew, canceling flights and rerouting cruise itineraries.
American Airlines, South Florida’s largest carrier, has canceled most flights slated to depart Thursday from Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport.
Limited departures will take off before noon Thursday, but all other departures are canceled thereafter, said Alexis Aran Coello, a spokeswoman for the airline. The airline plans to be back in full operation at noon Friday.
Most commercial airlines do not take off or land if sustained winds exceed 35 miles per hour, so mass cancellations are expected Thursday, said MIA spokesman Greg Chin.
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By Wednesday evening, MIA had 50 arrivals and 49 departures cancelled on Thursday across 18 airlines.
At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport 40 flights Wednesday flights had been cancelled by 4 p.m., most to destinations in The Bahamas and Haiti.
American and most other airlines are letting fliers change to a later flight with no penalty. Policies vary by airline, but passengers heading to or from most airports in Florida and throughout the Southeast can essentially move to any flight within the next week or so for free, although a difference in fare may apply in some cases.
With PortMiami, PortEverglades and the PortMiami Tunnel closed Wednesday and Thursday, cruise lines area making adjustments to their sailing schedules.
Ships already at sea are being rerouted to western Caribbean routes. The Carnival Sensation, which was set to sail from Miami Thursday, will instead sail Friday — assuming PortMiami reopens — on a three-day itinerary, rather than the scheduled four-day, to Nassau in The Bahamas. The schedule is still subject to a favorable post-storm assessment by port officials in The Bahamas.
If PortMiami reopensFriday, the Carinval Fantasy will also sail a three-day itinerary to the Bahamas if conditions in Nassau permit.
Guests who sail on the modified three-day voyages will receive a pro-rated refund for the missed day. travelers may also cancel their trip for a full refund.
At Norwegian Cruise Line, embarkations for the Norwegian Sky on Friday and Norwegian Escape slated for Saturday from PortMiami are expected to proceed as scheduled, though ships may be rerouted to avoid the storm.
Royal Caribbean International’s Empress of the Seas, originally slated to return to Miami on Thursday, instead will return to PortMiami on Friday if the port repens. Other itineraries have already been rerouted, said Owen Torres, a spokesman for the cruise line.
▪ Travel insurance: It’s too late to buy travel insurance to protect you from this hurricane. But those who already have a policy may be covered.
The key is to have a policy with hurricane coverage in place before Hurricane Matthew was named, according to travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth.
Typically, policies require the hurricane to render your accommodations uninhabitable or cause your flight or cruise to be canceled or significantly delayed, according to Squaremouth. Some policies allow you to cancel if there is a hurricane warning in effect for your destination right before your trip, or if there is a mandatory evacuation at your destination.
▪ Credit cards: Don’t forget to call your credit card company to see if they offer any type of travel protections. Some premium cards will refund a portion of a trip’s cost if it is delayed or canceled due to a storm. But that trip must have been paid for with that card.