What do you do if you've booked a trip to an area affected by Hurricane Irma?
Most airlines and vacation providers have removed change fees, and are allowing for penalty-free rebooking
Now that the storm has passed and the devastation in the Caribbean and Florida caused by Hurricane Irma comes to light, many Canadians who have future plans in the affected regions are concerned about travel.
Each airline has their own policy, but all of them say they're trying to accommodate customers as best they can, in light of the unprecedented circumstances.
Air Transat says they are 'really flexible'
"We are really flexible regarding people who already booked," said Debbie Cabana with Air Transat. The airline is adding additional flights and capacity to the Dominican Republic and Mexico in September and October, giving customers the option to change vacation destinations.
Would-be vacationers have until Sept. 16 to rebook any flights to Florida or Cuba — they can travel to another destination or cancel their flight for a future voucher.
Cabana added that the company has teams on the ground in Cuba still assessing the situation and damage. Flights to Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria are suspended until at least Oct. 31. Meanwhile, operations in Varadero are set to resume on Sept. 22.
The airline doesn't start service to St. Martin until the end of December, but customers who are concerned about the status of the island can rebook to another destination as well.
WestJet thanks guests for 'patience and understanding'
WestJet has cancelled all flights to Cayo Coco, Santa Clara and St. Martin until Oct. 31. Any customers who have booked travel to those destinations until Dec. 31 will be allowed to change or cancel their trips without penalty.
Like Air Transat, the airline is evaluating the situation on the ground in areas of Cuba, Florida and the Turks and Caicos to make sure the "airport, runway and hotel infrastructure are intact and safe," said Lauren Stewart. Travellers have until Sept. 30 to change, rebook or cancel trips to those destinations.
Any refunds will be made in WestJet dollars — the airline's travel rewards program — which expire after a year. Stewart also thanks "guests for their patience and understanding over the past few days," adding that they're aware there may be a lot of confusion for travellers who have future plans to go to affected regions.
Air Canada has 'flexible rebooking policy in place'
Air Canada says they're continuing to assess the situation in areas affected by Hurricane Irma on a "destination-by-destination" basis, and will extend their "no change fees" rebooking policy as necessary.
Like other airlines and vacation providers, their representatives and partners are determining the extent of the damage to hotel properties and airports, and Air Canada says it cannot speculate on when travel may fully resume to affected areas.
"We will only offer customers accommodations that are safe and meet the high standards all our properties offer," said Peter Fitzpatrick, spokesperson for Air Canada.
The airline hopes to resume flights to Florida airports on Wednesday, but it recommends all passengers and travellers check their flight status or contact the company.
Have you been affected by Hurricane Irma? Email us.