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It’s pretty common for airline websites to have a travel waiver or travel advisory of some sort up for at least an airport or two around the world at any given time. However, I have never seen anything like you will find on most US airline websites right now. There isn’t one advisory/waiver, there are tons and tons of them with different city groupings and valid dates and terms, largely because of all of the damage that tropical systems have done and are still doing to cities and entire islands. In fact, today I saw waivers going out as far as May 1, 2018, in the case of St. Maarten via JetBlue. Other airlines, like United and Delta, currently have waivers in place through the end of 2017 for some of the harder hit areas they serve such as Providenciales, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.
The airlines seem to be acting pretty reasonably allowing free changes if you want to just delay your trip to one of these areas and keep the same departure and destination cities, and often waiving change fees if you want to change your plans completely to fly somewhere else within a year of the day you bought your ticket. The reality is we aren’t just waiting for a storm to blow over. In the case of some of these destinations like St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and to a lesser extent, Key West, things won’t be back up and running for quite some time.
The only way to know the exact status of your travel plans is to check with your intended airline and hotel directly but to give you a feel for the current status of things after Hurricane Irma, here is the current opening status of some popular points-friendly hotels.
Sunset Key Cottages – Key West
“We are currently closed until further notice, with the safety of our guests and associates as our top priority. We are accepting cancellations through our call center. If you booked through an Online Travel Agency (Booking.com, Expedia.com, etc.), we will be taking cancellations through them as well. Please contact our toll-free number at 855.995.9799.for more information.”
This property used to be under the SPG umbrella and does not have a current published re-opening date.
“Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel had minimum damage with trees down and our team is getting Hotel in tip-top shape for your arrival. Currently, the hotel is home to first responders till the end of the month. They are working endless hours to restore our island and we are thankful for all their hard work. We look forward to welcoming you back to paradise in October. Visit keywestmarriott.com for rates and availability.”
We have received confirmation that all Hyatt Residence Club staff members are safe and accounted for after Hurricane Irma. County officials are still restricting access to the Keys, so there is no update on the condition of the resort at this time. The Monroe County BOCC Facebook page is continuing to provide local area updates.
We have suspended all near-term reservations and cancellation/reschedule fees are being waived for reservations
through September 30, 2017. We will provide an update should this date be extended. Reservation Inquiries call +1 800.GO.HYATT. All Other Reservations: Email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Sheraton Suites Key West
“Due to Hurricane Irma, Sheraton Suites Key West is currently closed. The safety of our guests and associates is always a top priority. We encourage those planning to visit the hotel to check the news for the most current information and amend their travel plans accordingly. We are waiving hotel cancellation and change fees for specific arrival dates and suggest our customers call 888-625-4988 for more information about their reservations. Those in countries outside of the United States seeking information about their reservations should call the SPG toll-free number in their country.”
St. Regis Bal Harbor
This hotel, like many others in the Miami area, actually just reopened over the weekend.
“We are happy to announce that the St. Regis Bal Harbour will be reopening and accepting reservations on Saturday, September 16th. Should you have any questions about reservations or any of our restaurants, please contact us at 305-993-3300.”
“Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six operations have been impacted by Hurricane Irma’s recent passage through the area. The hotel is currently closed and not accepting reservations until further notice. Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six will waive all cancellation charges and refund all deposits for stays during this period, and will work with each traveler to make future arrangements. Guests with upcoming reservations should call 1-800-323-7249 as storms have affected hotel communications.”
A Facebook status update from 9/13 also states, “Thank you to everyone for your care and concern during this time! We are working on re-opening soon and will have an update shortly!”.
“The hotel will be closed until September 24, 2017, as a result of Hurricane Irma. Our in-house reservations team is currently working to contact guests with reservations booked during this time.”
Westin St. John Resort Villas
A recent Facebook status from the hotel states “Due to Hurricane Irma, we are assessing the overall impact to The Westin St. John Resort Villas. Our immediate priority is the continued safety and well-being of our Associates and the St. John community. As a result, The Westin St. John Resort Villas will remain closed throughout 2017. In the meantime, we are working diligently to reopen as quickly as possible and we will provide updates as they become available. Thank you for your continued support, patience, and understanding.”
Ritz Carlton St. Thomas
The hotel is currently closed with no further estimates or details easily available other than “We are waiving hotel cancellation and change fees for specific arrival dates and suggest our customers call 1-800-228-9290 for more information about their reservations.”
Westin Dawn Beach St. Maarten
“Due to Hurricane Irma, The Westin St. Maarten is currently closed. The safety of our guests and associates is always a top priority at The Westin St. Maarten, and there are no reported injuries. We encourage those planning to visit the hotel to check the news for the most current information and amend their travel plans accordingly. We are waiving hotel cancellation and change fees for specific arrival dates and suggest our customers call 1-888-625-4988 for more information about their reservations. Those in countries outside of the United States seeking information about their reservations should call the SPG toll-free number in their country.”
Honestly, if I had travel plans to one of the harder hit islands for anytime this year I would start planning something else, and frankly, for some places, this will be true at least into 2018 as well. For Key West, I am seeing some reports of places that hope to be back up in a month or so, though some still don’t have any time estimates in place. Most of the places I checked on the mainland of Florida seem to either be reopened or plan to be re-opened in the relatively near term. Now let’s just cross our fingers that the hard-hit areas don’t get significant further setbacks from storms this season and that no additional locations suffer serious damage either. I’m sure all of us will be happy to see this hurricane season conclude in a couple of months!
Have any of this year’s tropical systems impacted your vacation plans? If so, what are you doing to change or delay your travel plans?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.