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Do you have plans for a post Hurricane Caribbean vacation? With Hurricane Irma barrelling through in early September and Hurricane Maria scheduled to hit the Caribbean this month too, you may be wondering about your Caribbean vacation plans for later this year, or even next year. Anyone who has booked a trip to the Caribbean in the next year needs to be asking whether they will actually be able to take that trip. Many parts of the beautiful Caribbean islands were hit extremely hard by the hurricanes. Some islands and resorts have minor damage, some were not hit at all, and some are totally devastated. You should figure out what this means for your vacation.
Visiting the Caribbean after the Hurricane
Any post hurricane Caribbean vacation plans need to be evaluated. If you had plans to visit islands like Turks and Caicos, St Martin/St. Maarten, St Bart’s, Barbuda, Antigua, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominica or other Caribbean islands you need to figure out if your resort will be open during the dates that you have booked and if your airline can even fly into that island.
If you are not able to go on your post hurricane Caribbean vacation, you may be able to get a refund on your flights and resort reservations. But you have to act now! I recently learned my trip to Beaches Resorts in Turks and Caicos in October will have to be rescheduled. I learned these three things when working on rescheduling.
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3 Things to Know about your Post Hurricane Caribbean Vacation
1. Find out the current state of your destination.
The first thing you need to do is to see if there are updates on the destination that you are planning to visit. Check the website or Facebook page. If you don’t see any updates, don’t assume all is well. Generally, that is not a good sign. You can also try Googling or searching for the destination on social media to get a first-hand view of what is really happening.
2. Call your resort and airline.
If you find that your resort will not be open during the time you plan to travel, then you need to call the airlines today to figure out what you can do about the airline tickets. You may be able to get a refund or change your tickets to a different date next year. You might even be able to change the tickets to a different destination. However, the window to do this is short. Call today.
3. Don’t be a jerk.
After you figure out how to mitigate the financial implications for your Caribbean vacation, keep things in perspective. Yes, it stinks to have to change your plans and it may mean you even lose out on some money. However, the destruction that went through the islands was mind boggling. Your Caribbean vacation is really the least of the worries of the island. Whether you’re emailing the resort, calling the airlines, or looking into excursions you have booked on the island, please be nice. They are dealing with so many more difficult situations than your cancelled plans. Just don’t be a jerk.
Caribbean Flight Cancellations After Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria
Below you will find information for three of the airlines that service the Caribbean and what they are offering customers who are flying into or out of areas affected by Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria. This is not an exhaustive list though, and terms seem to be changing daily. Be sure to call your individual airline for confirmation. Individual tickets may have different restrictions or allowances too. If you have bought trip cancellation insurance (smart cookie!) then you should contact that company directly as well.
American Airlines is currently not offering refunds nor is the carrier offering flight credits for flights you can’t use. However, American will freeze your ticket and you can call back any time to reschedule your trip to without paying any penalty fees. You cannot change the destination or departing airport. Check out the website for exact time you have to rebook and take your trip. For Turks and Caicos, for example, you have to take the trip by December 31, 2017. For St. Martin/St. Maartan, you have until September 18, 2018.
JetBlue seems to have one of the most flexible and customer-orientated rescheduling policies for those heading to destinations affected by Hurricane Irma. For JetBlue customers with existing scheduled flights to the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, JetBlue will waive cancellation fees, change fees and will waive the difference in air fare for rebooking. Details on these waivers can be found on the web.
Delta has combined and consolidated waivers for customers traveling through three dozen destinations affected by Irma through Sept. 20. The airline has paused baggage and pet-in-cabin fees for customers traveling to or from impacted cities until Sept. 15. In certain destinations, Delta is allowing travelers to reschedule travel for after September 30, 2017, though a difference in fare may apply. You must complete your travel within one year from the day it was originally issued. If you can’t reschedule within these guidelines, Delta is allowing customers to cancel their reservation and apply any unused value toward the purchase of a new ticket. Be sure to read all the details here.
The bottom line is that you may have to alter your post hurricane Caribbean vacation plans. This is especially true if you were planning to travel in the next few months. However, that is a small inconvenience in comparison to the destruction that is happening on many islands. Want to help the islands until you can get there? I’m a big fan of the Sandals Foundation. Foundation officials are giving 100% of their donations to hurricane relief efforts.