Don't get swept away.
Bad news, Labor Day vacationers. There’s a Category 4 Hurricane headed towards some of the most popular vacation spots near North America. Both Florida and the Caribbean will fall under the path of Tropical Storm Dorian and it doesn’t seem to care that it will land during the three-day weekend or during the opening of Disney World’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. If your plans are affected by Mother Nature, here’s what to do if you have to cancel or if you’ve already hit the road and you’re wondering what to do now.
If I Have Travel Plans, Should I Cancel Them?
We’re not your mom and we can’t tell you what to do. But, if you want our opinion, we’re recommending that you remain on the safe side and cancel any plans that put you in the hurricane’s path. When Dorian lands it will be a Category 4 hurricane that brings heavy rain and winds of up to 130 miles per hour. That’s the kind of wind that won’t just get in the way of your vacation it could put you in danger. Luckily, these airlines, car rental services, hotels, and even Disney World agree that it’s perfectly reasonable to prefer to be safe than sorry and aren’t charging customers who want to change their travel plans.
Car Rental Companies
If you’ve already pre-paid the car rental company for your Labor Day rental, you can simply call and let them know that you’re canceling your travel plans. According to the experts at Auto Slash, most car rental companies will refund you without charging you a cancellation fee if your travel plans are affected by Hurricane Dorian. However, be advised that it might take several business days for the credit to be refunded to your credit card.
Like car rental companies, most airlines aren’t penalizing customers for deciding to change their plans. Some are canceling flights on their end, so be sure to check your e-mail for updates. If your airline doesn’t cancel your flight, these airlines that frequent the affected areas will allow you to rebook your vacation for another date. If your airline is not on this list, check their travel advisory page for more information:
- American Airlines: You can change your travel dates with no change fee if you are flying to, from, or through 13 locations in Florida or multiple areas in the Bahamas and Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos islands (for dates through August 31). Monitor American Airlines’ Travel Alerts page for more information.
- Delta Airlines: You can cancel (and receive a credit with the airline) or change the date of your flight to, from, and through Port-au-Prince, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; St. Lucia; and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Monitor Delta’s Tropical Storm Dorian alerts page for more information.
- Southwest Airlines: You can rebook your flight without any additional charge if you’re traveling to, from, or through Providenciales; Punta Cana; San Juan; Nassau, Bahamas; and multiple airports in Florida. Monitor Southwest’s Travel Advisory page for more information.
- Spirit Airlines: You can rebook your flight without incurring a change fee if you’re traveling to, from, or through Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; Port-au-Prince, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, San Juan, and Santiago or multiple airports in Florida. Monitor Spirit Airlines’ Travel Advisories page for more information.
- Frontier Airlines: You can rebook your flight for a different date if you’re flying to, from, or through Punta Cana and San Juan. Monitor Frontier’s Travel Advisory page for more information.
- United Airlines: You can rebook your flight without charge if you’re flying to, from, or through Aguadilla, Punta Cana, and San Juan. Monitor United’s Important Notices page for more information.
- JetBlue: You can change or cancel your flight without any charges if you’re flying to, from, or through Aguadilla and Ponce, Puerto Rico; San Juan; and St. Thomas. Monitor JetBlue’s Flight Operations Updates page for more information.
Hotels and Airbnb
Thousands of hotels will be affected by Hurricane Dorian, and each will have its own policy. However, organizations like the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association are encouraging individual hotels to waive cancellation fees for anyone affected by the tropical storm. We advise that you cancel your reservation by phone, rather than online, to let them know that you are canceling because of the hurricane. It may expedite your refund.
Airbnb has said that it will waive cancellation fees for any customers who can prove (via canceled flights, notice of road closures, or similar documentation) that the hurricane prevented them from traveling.
Port Canaveral, Florida is a popular departure point for many cruise lines and directly in the path of Dorian. If you are due to take a cruise from Port Canaveral or another departure point within the reach of Dorian, you should contact your cruise operator or check your e-mail for updates. Cruises like Royal Caribbean, and Disney Fantasy are merely changing their routes to avoid Dorian instead of canceling their excursions altogether.
The Walt Disney World Resort
If you were planning on heading here to see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, take heart. Disney World’s policy is that guests can reschedule or cancel their reservations without penalty if a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area within seven days of their arrival. But, if you’ve booked your Disney stay through a third party, you’ll have to speak to them about their cancellation fees for your airfare or other transportation. If your flight was booked through Disney, the company will attempt to “rebook your air travel. However, you will be responsible for any cancellation or change fees imposed by the airline.”
If You’re Already on the Road, What Should You Do?
Encountering a hurricane while you’re on vacation can put a damper on your fun. But if you’re in an area that has been instructed to evacuate, it’s a good idea to get out of Dodge. If you can, drive to an area that’s not affected by the hurricane and hole up in a hotel or Airbnb (some hosts are offering free accommodations for those who may be displaced by the storm).
Alternatively, ask your hotel’s operator (or look online) for the nearest emergency storm shelter in your area to ride out the storm. Whatever you do, don’t stick around after you’re told to leave. Vacation interruptions happen and they’re no big deal as long as you stay safe!