Powerful Hurricane Idalia tore through parts of Florida and other states in the Southeast as the summer travel season comes to an unofficial end with the busy Labor Day weekend.
The advice for travelers in affected areas is now clear: pay attention to local guidance.
But what should travelers do about their travel plans to Florida and other affected areas for the weekend?
CNN Travel spoke with the experts on how to handle the upcoming plans:
No, says Paula Tweedall of AAA Travel, with the caveat that the situation requires monitoring.
“We encourage consumers to keep travel plans,” but to monitor the effects of the storm and look for airline waivers to rebook, “if necessary,” said Twaddell, senior vice president of AAA Travel.
Rescheduling makes sense for hard-hit areas, according to Clint Henderson, managing editor at the travel site dots man.
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, which represents two popular beach locations, said in an email statement Wednesday afternoon that the destination “had good success and saw minimal damage.” Access to the barrier islands in Pinellas County was temporarily restricted, but has since been restored.
The tourism organization recommends that visitors contact their accommodation to find out when properties will be open and accepting guests.
Visit Tampa Bay said Thursday morning that the area is “100% open.”
Tampa International Airport reopened to arrivals Wednesday afternoon and fully reopened early Thursday.
“We are currently welcoming new visitors as we speak. We also experienced minor street flooding which has since subsided, and all attractions are open and operating,” said Vanessa Evans, Public Relations Director for Visit Tampa Bay.
What about the coastal regions of Georgia and the Carolinas?
The same advice about checking your accommodations applies to other areas affected by the storm, which made landfall Wednesday morning in Big Bend on Florida’s Gulf Coast and moved across northern Florida into Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The historic city of Savannah, Georgia, a popular tourist destination, was bracing for wind and rain Wednesday as Idalia moved.
Joseph Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, said in a statement Wednesday that the city and surrounding area have plans in place to help businesses reopen “as quickly as possible.”
“The weather this Thursday afternoon on Labor Day weekend is looking great for Savannah Beach and Tybee Island, and I can assure you that Savannah and the 28,000 employees of our tourism economy will work hard to provide an unforgettable vacation experience for the weekend,” Marinelli said.
Most US airlines have introduced waivers that allow many passengers with imminent travel plans in the affected regions to change their flights without penalty.
“The rules vary by airline, but generally you’ll have to rebook into the same cabin and meet specific date requirements to qualify for the waiver,” said Phil Dengler, the airline’s co-founder. vacationer.
Passengers who experience major cancellations, delays or schedule changes are entitled to claim cash refunds, according to Department of Transportation rules.
“If your airline offers you a travel credit, insist on a cash refund,” Dengler said.
What if you’re nervous about flying somewhere outside of the affected areas but are still too close for personal comfort – and your flight hasn’t been cancelled?
“It is up to the discretion of the airline. If your flight is operating without significant change, you are not entitled to a refund for cash,” said Scott Keyes, founder of the travel site. Going.
“Most full-service airlines will allow you to cancel and get a full refund in travel credit to use in the next 12 months, as long as you didn’t book a basic economy ticket,” Keyes said.
Henderson recommends checking your hotel’s website to see if your stay may be affected. He said not all hotels offer refunds, but some do. “It never hurts to ask.”
He said that if you book through a third party site like Expedia, you will need to make changes through them.
The Expedia Group, which includes a variety of booking sites including Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Vrbo.com, told CNN Travel this week that it is working with its hotel partners to implement a flexible policy for the affected areas.
“The flexible policy can be accessed when dealing with a virtual agent by simply logging into your account or providing your itinerary number to the virtual agent,” a company spokesperson said. Customer service portals Expedia And Hotels.com Can provide information and assistance.
Natural disasters do not override Vrbo’s vacation rental cancellation policies that guests agree to when booking with hosts, according to Expedia Group.
“Guests who need to cancel or make changes to a reservation outside of the cancellation policy window should work directly with the host,” the company spokesperson said. “We always encourage hosts to do what they can to work with guests in these situations.”
Henderson said that some credit cards have flight delay and cancellation insurance, which may lead to refunds for passengers who paid with these cards.
Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing company, encourages travelers planning during hurricane season (June through November, with a peak from mid-August to mid-October) to find out in advance their refund information from hotels, airlines, and rental car companies. Policies, how to keep guests informed about approaching storms and what actions they will take in the event of a storm.
Keyes said the risk of your flight being canceled and a trip destroyed by a hurricane — even in peak season in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Atlantic — remains very low. There are still actions travelers can take if this happens.
“Remember your refund rights under federal law, evaluate the travel protections offered to you automatically by your credit card, and if you feel there is a gap, it may be wise to purchase additional travel insurance,” he advised.
Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, said about a dozen ships were affected by minor port-of-call modifications caused by Hurricanes Adalia and Franklin.
McDaniel said Wednesday morning that the Port Everglades and the Port of Miami were operating as normal on Wednesday, while several other Florida ports, including Port Canaveral, Jacksonville and Port Tampa Bay, were temporarily closed.
“Conditions change quickly due to hurricanes, and we will reopen when it is safe,” she said.
Affected passengers should look for text messages from cruise lines and ports as well as monitor social media sites such as Facebook and X (formerly Twitter). Cruise Critic provides an explanation of What do you know about sailing during hurricane season.