Airlines Waive Change Fees Following Hurricane

Editor's note, September 3: New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport announced it will reopen Thursday, September 4. The story below has been updated to reflect this.

Mercifully, Hurricane Gustav spared New Orleans a direct hit this weekend, but that doesn't mean all is well in the skies. Louis Armstrong International Airport will reopen September 4, meaning no one is flying into, through, or out of New Orleans before then.

If you have travel plans that involve the Big Easy, either as a connection or a destination, your airline should be making an accommodation to allow for itinerary changes with minimal or no fees. Here's the rundown:

  • AirTran: Simply says flights have been canceled, and are expected to resume September 3.
  • American: For flights between August 28 and September 4, ticketed no later than August 28, no-charge changes may be made for travel no later than September 4.
  • Continental: For travel scheduled between August 28 and September 3, the airline will waive change fees and any differences in fare, and new travel must be rescheduled to commence before September 10, after which it will only waive change fees.
  • Delta: For flights between August 28 and September 3, the airline will waive change fees and any differences in fare, and new travel must be rescheduled to begin no later than September 8. Note that Delta will collect any difference in fare.
  • Northwest: Flights scheduled to depart between August 29 and September 3 can be rescheduled through September 6, "in the same cabin of service as originally scheduled, without penalty or administrative change fees, subject to availability," between September 7 and 10 "in the same class of service as originally scheduled, without administrative change fees, subject to availability," and between September 11 and 17 "without advance purchase requirements or administrative change fees. Additional fare collection may apply." (Seems to me the last two scenarios will incur a penalty.)
  • Southwest: For travel originally scheduled between August 29 and September 3, Southwest will give passengers 14 days from their scheduled departure date to rebook and fly,
  • United: For travel scheduled between August 28 and September 4, customers already en route may make one change free of additional charge and travel must be completed within seven days of original travel date. Travelers who have not yet departed can make one change, free of the change fee and advance-purchase requirement, and there is no travel period stipulation.
  • US Airways: Travel scheduled between August 28 and September 4 may be moved up to seven days beyond the original travel date for no extra charge. Wholly unused tickets may be applied toward a ticket to an alternate destination.

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I'm glad most of the airlines above are giving passengers a few days to sort out their travel plans. With phone lines likely jammed by anxious flyers, and considering the airport is still closed, it may be a few days before air travel is back in full swing. Here's hoping the few airlines requiring rescheduled travel by September 4 (that's Thursday) adjust their rules as the situation develops.

I'll keep an eye on the news and pass along any useful travel information (such as when New Orleans' airport reopens). Please post a comment below if you come across anything on your own.

Read comments or add your own insight!
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