US to propose new rules for airline cancellations, delays

Airlines begin to offer travel waivers for Hurricane Matthew

TORONTO — Airlines are cancelling some flights to the Caribbean and even the mainland U.S. as Hurricane Matthew is expected to spin toward Florida later this week.

Hurricane Matthew was passing through the sparsely populated islands of the southern Bahamas early Wednesday after inflicting heavy damage on southwest Haiti. Forecasters said the storm was on track to roll directly over the Bahamian capital of Nassau before nearing the Florida coast.

By late Tuesday, American Airlines had cancelled about 120 flights through Saturday, a spokesman said. Nearly half were departures from Miami, mostly to Caribbean destinations.

Many airlines are letting passengers change travel plans without penalty if their trip might be affected by the hurricane, which pounded Haiti on Tuesday and caused flooding that was blamed for several deaths.

  • Air Canada said that as a result of Hurricane Matthew, it has implemented a policy allowing customers to change their flight, free of charge, for itineraries that include a flight to, from or via one of the following areas: Cuba, Haiti, Bahamas and some Florida airports. See more details
  • WestJet said guests who wish to make alternate flight arrangements may do so without penalty by calling 1-888-WESTJET and has mentioned possible delays and cancellations with warnings for Florida, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica. See more details
  • American said it would waive change fees on trips scheduled Thursday or Friday to or from eight cities in Florida. The airline had already offered waivers on trips scheduled through Thursday in several Caribbean nations including Cuba.
  • United Airlines said it would waive change fees and any difference in fare for customers scheduled to fly Wednesday through Friday to, from or through five airports in Florida.
  • Delta waived change fees on trips through Wednesday in the Caribbean and through Thursday at eight Florida destinations, although differences in the fare would still apply.
  • JetBlue Airways said passengers flying Thursday through Sunday to or from eight cities in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina can change planes without a fee or additional fare. A similar offer covers Caribbean travel through Thursday.
  • Spirit Airlines said it would waive the change fee and fare difference on Florida trips Thursday and Friday.

The offers come with conditions that vary by airlines. Customers usually have just a few extra days to complete their rescheduled trip.

The fee to change a nonrefundable ticket on United, American and Delta is typically $200 for domestic flights and usually more for international trips.

Travellers whose flights are cancelled can get a refund.

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