Airlines are offering passengers the chance to get out of their travel plans to and from the Southeastern United States this week, in advance of Category 4 Hurricane Florence. They also appear to be offering a very cheap ride out of town, with stabilized airfare at or below $200, and frequent flyer mile awards are wide open.
In the days leading up to Friday, when the massive storm is expected to make landfall on the Carolinas, airfare from cities like Charleston, South Carolina has stabilized. United is offering $222 one-way fares on all flights to New York. JetBlue fares are even cheaper, at $153 one-way, while many American Airlines and Delta Air Lines fares are appearing at $160 or less.
These examples use Charleston, likely to be one of the hardest hit areas, but airlines are offering stabilized fares and travel waivers to at least 16 southeast cities (see below).
Those who find it more convenient to use frequent flyer miles or credit card points are also in luck. Both Delta and United appear to be holding low-level awards open for these flights.
Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve Points can be transferred directly to United, while American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta. Transfers are instantaneous.
Both travel waivers, which allow free changes and cancellations of flights during the period leading up to and during the hurricane, and fare caps are being implemented at the following southeast airports, per United:
Asheville, North Carolina (AVL)
Charleston, South Carolina (CHS)
Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT)
Charlottesville, Virginia (CHO)
Columbia, South Carolina (CAE)
Fayetteville, North Carolina (FAY)
Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (GSP)
Greensboro, North Carolina (GSO)
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR)
Norfolk, Virginia (ORF)
Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina (RDU)
Richmond, Virginia (RIC)
Roanoke, Virginia (ROA)
Savannah, Georgia (SAV)
Shenandoah Valley Airport, Virginia (SHD)
Wilmington, North Carolina (ILM)
It’s good to see the airlines holding prices stable in an attempt to give potential hurricane victims a reasonable airlift. This stands in contrast to the sufferers of Hurricane Irma last summer, during which airfares skyrocketed, leaving poorer residents stranded on many Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico.