Hurricane Ian Is Wreaking Havoc on Travel In Florida
If you’ve seen the news lately, you know how much Hurricane Ian is stealing headlines, and for good reason. Hurricane Ian is wreaking havoc on travel in Florida, and its progression will not be pretty. Many counties along Florida’s western coast have even received evacuation orders, including part of Florida’s third most-populous city, Tampa.
Current projections show that Ian is an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane that is bordering on Category 5. The storm is predicted to hit the western coast of Florida sometime Wednesday afternoon. Category 4 means maximum sustained wind speeds could be as high as 130-156 mph as Ian makes its way into Florida, and current forecasts show 155 mph winds.
According to recent reports, “It’s no longer possible to safely evacuate.” Governor Ron DeSantis made the statement this morning as Hurricane Ian is set to cause a potentially catastrophic storm surge. 12 to 16 feet of water is forecast for Fort Myers, enough to completely submerge some homes.
Landfall is currently expected to hit between Venice Beach and Fort Myers.
Travel is already being affected by Hurricane Ian. As the hurricane develops, travel will likely be affected even more.
Air Travel Disruptions
As Ian makes its way towards Florida, several airlines and airports have announced plans to close or cancel flights to the regions likely to be affected. Airlines have announced cancellations and opportunities for passengers to take advantage of a travel waiver for flights affected by the hurricane.
Airline Responses to Hurricane Ian
- Alaska: The airline stated on its website, “Flights to and from Miami International, Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International, Southwest Florida International, Tampa International, and Orlando International airport may be delayed or canceled due to Hurricane Ian.” In response, the airline stated, “We are offering a flexible travel policy if you would like to change or cancel your flight.”
- Allegiant: The airline has stated on its website, “Based on forecasted weather conditions, there is a possibility our scheduled service may be disrupted (flights may be delayed, diverted, and/or canceled) to and from the following cities on the dates Monday, September 26, 2022 – Friday, September 30, 2022.” Airports included in their advisory were PIE, SRQ, PGD, FLL, SFB, VPS, EYW, and JAX. Customers can change their flight by calling 702-505-8888. If your flight is canceled, Allegiant will automatically refund the ticket cost.
- American: American issued a travel alert for 20 airports and allows customers to rebook without change fees. Passengers can rebook at aa.com or by calling 800-433-7300.
- Delta: Delta announced that starting Tuesday night, they would not operate at TPA, SRQ, or RSW. Beginning Wednesday, Delta will not operate at Orlando (MCO). Travelers affected must rebook by October 3rd to take advantage of Delta’s Fare Difference Waiver.
- Southwest: Southwest, as usual, has offered the most flexibility. Customers traveling to or from ANY Florida airport between September 25th and October 2nd can change their flights at no additional charge.
- Spirit: Spirit is allowing customers flying to or from FLL, RSW, MIA, MCO, or TPA between September 25th and 30th can change their flights for free as long as they do so before October 3rd.
- United: United is allowing customers who planned on traveling to or from ANY Florida airport between September 23rd and 30th the opportunity to rebook with no fees, as long as they purchased their original ticket before the 23rd. Customers must rebook by the 8th of October.
- Virgin: Virgin is allowing customers who bought tickets before September 25th for travel to or from ANY Florida airports between the 25th and the 30th the opportunity to rebook with no fees as long as their new travel is completed by October 3rd
Airport Closures Due To Hurricane Ian
- Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB): Closing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday 9-28, with the goal of reopening as soon as possible.
We will close at 2pm on Wednesday, September 28. Our goal is to resume normal operations as quickly as possible once conditions are safe following #HurricaneIan. We will announce reopening details as soon as they are available. For flight information, please call your airline. pic.twitter.com/0QNim1Hjno
— Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB) (@FlyMLB) September 27, 2022
- Orlando International Airport (MCO): Closing at 10:20 a.m. on Wednesday 9-28, with the goal of reopening as soon as possible.
Operational Update – Hurricane Ian
Commercial operations at MCO will cease at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, 09/28/22. Entry to all parking facilities will be closed at that same period. Please contact your airline for flight updates. pic.twitter.com/P75DooP2EA
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) September 27, 2022
- Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ): Closed Tuesday 9-27 at 8 p.m.
As Hurricane Ian approaches, The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport will be CLOSED starting at 8pm today, 9/27/2022.
All scheduled flight operations will be suspended following our last departure at 6pm. Check with your airline for the latest flight information. pic.twitter.com/ld4bRlXrwz
— SRQ Airport (@SRQAirport) September 27, 2022
- Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW): Closed Tuesday 9-27 at 9 p.m
- St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE): Closed Tuesday 9-27 at 1 p.m.
Flights are currently operating Monday and Tuesday morning as scheduled. The airport terminal will close at 1:00 pm on Tuesday 9/27 due to mandatory evacuation orders from Pinellas County and remain closed until the evacuation order is lifted. Contact your airlines for updates. pic.twitter.com/zIHlzG4Ct4
— St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (@iflypie) September 26, 2022
- Tampa International Airport (TPA): Closed at 5 p.m. Tuesday evening and will reopen as soon as possible.
As planned, Tampa International Airport has now suspended operations due to Hurricane Ian.
The Airport is closed to all passengers and visitors, with only employees considered to be “storm riders” remaining on Airport property to assist with essential on-site tasks. pic.twitter.com/BLu4UOBW00
— Tampa International Airport ✈️ (@FlyTPA) September 27, 2022
Park Closures Travelers Should Know About
- Florida State Parks: Dozens of parks are closed due to Hurricane Ian; for a complete list, check Florida State Park’s website.
The Florida Park Service is actively monitoring #HurricaneIan. We’ll keep you updated on the latest developments and state park closures. See the complete list of affected state parks here: https://t.co/VVTQuAb5IQ. 🌀 pic.twitter.com/kBp9XQoilB
— Florida State Parks (@FLStateParks) September 26, 2022
- Disney World: Closed the 28th – 29th
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) September 27, 2022
- Universal Studios: Closed the 28th – 29th
Universal Orlando Resort, including CityWalk, will close on Sept. 28 & remain fully closed on Sept. 29. We anticipate reopening on Sept. 30 as conditions permit. pic.twitter.com/nPgsmv6TUv
— Universal Orlando Resort (@UniversalORL) September 27, 2022
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Closed the 27th – 29th
— Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (@BuschGardens) September 27, 2022
- LegoLand: Closed the 28th – 29th
Resort closure includes LEGOLAND® FL Theme Park, Water Park & Peppa Pig Theme Park. Tickets dated for 9/28-10/2 will be automatically extended thru 12/31/22. Vacation stays during this time can be rebooked without penalty. Learn more at https://t.co/rKFCcHe1n2. Stay safe! pic.twitter.com/XflGsQ0OT0
— LEGOLAND Florida (@LEGOLANDFlorida) September 27, 2022
Travelers in any affected areas are advised to follow all local guidelines with regard to evacuation and sheltering. Any travelers who had plans to visit affected areas are advised to work with their airlines and other bookings to reschedule and initiate refunds.