Flights Canceled, Amtrak Suspends Service: Florence to Snarl Travel for East Coast

Florence is also disrupting flight paths for planes heading north and south of the region, causing delays for travelers along the busy East Coast corridor

Airlines have grounded more than a thousand flights in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia as Hurricane Florence continued to barrel toward the Atlantic coast, where it is predicted to linger over a swath of the Southeast through the weekend. 

According to the flight-tracking site FlightAware, more than 2,000 flights have been canceled between now and Saturday. Some of the region's airports have halted commercial operations.

Charleston International Airport in South Carolina announced in a tweet Tuesday night that it expects runways to close by midnight Wednesday and would not resume operations until at least Saturday. Myrtle Beach International Airport ceased operations Thursday morning after the last flight departed at 5:47 a.m. It was not immediately clear when it expected to reopen.  

Southwest Airlines announced it was suspending operations at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Thursday afternoon and canceled flights in and out of the airport through Friday. Southwest is also grounding flights to and from the Norfolk, Virginia, airport.

American Airlines, which operates its second-biggest hub in Charlotte, has also canceled more than 560 flights through Sunday. The airline also announced it had canceled operations at several airports in North and South Carolina and will cease operations at Newport News/Williamsburg Airport in Virginia.

JetBlue has capped fares at $149 on all flights to and from cities that may be affected by Florence through Sunday to assist area residents who are evacuating and to help facilitate their return.  

Delta Airlines announced Wednesday had upsized aircrafts to add extra seats and added additional flights to and from cities in the hurricane's path to help evacuate residents and facilitate their return after Florence has passed. Delta has canceled around 150 flights Thursday and Friday flight in preparation for the storm. 

All major airlines have also waived rebooking fees for passengers traveling to the Southeast who want to change flights or cancel their plans altogether.

Florence is also disrupting flight paths for planes heading north and south of the region, causing hundreds of delays for travelers along the busy East Coast corridor. Would-be travelers flying out of the New England area, New York, Philadelphia and South Florida, are warned to brace for delays and possible cancellations due to restricted airspace. 

Passengers are urged to check the status of their flight with their airline before heading to the airport.

And it's not just air travel that is being impacted by Florence. Amtrak is modifying schedules and canceling trains south of Washington in response to the hurricane.

The Auto Train, Silver Meteor and Crescent are canceled from Wednesday through Sunday. The Carolinian and Piedmont are canceled from Thursday through Sunday.

The Silver Star will run only between Jacksonville, Florida and Miami from Wednesday to Sunday.

Northeast Regional trains will not operate south of Washington. Amtrak is waiving fees for passengers who change their reservations.

But with forecasters predicting the potential for "unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding," trains service could be disrupted long after the storm has passed if tracks are damaged.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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