As states along the East Coast prepare for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall, hospitality companies in the region are warning tourists to stay home — or be prepared to weather the storm. Major airports are closed, amusement parks are shutting down early and some Florida counties are already evacuating.
Tourists should heed the travel warnings. At least five people in the Bahamas have died and thousands of homes have been destroyed as a result of the storm. Tens of thousands of people living in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina could be affected later Tuesday, according to the Red Cross.
If you planned a trip to Florida or the Caribbean, here's what you need to know.
Many Florida and Bahamas-based airports are shut down due to the storm, including Orlando International Airport, Daytona Beach Airport and Palm Beach International Airport. Fort Lauderdale International Airport is expected to reopen at noon on Tuesday.
You can check each airport's website and Twitter feed for updates. At around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sep. 3, Orlando International said that "as of now we do not have an expected time to resume operations, as it depends on many factors as the storm moves past."
More than a thousand flights across the U.S. were canceled on Monday and Tuesday, according to flightaware.com. American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United are all offering free flight changes for passengers traveling to and from destinations in Florida, the Bahamas and other cities along the East Coast.
The deadline to rebook and cities that qualify are dependent on the airline, and you should be able to change your flights by logging into the airline's website or by calling customer service.
Many of the airlines are also waiving checked baggage and pet fees for those traveling out of Florida and the Bahamas. There are restrictions on the numbers of bags that can be checked, so check the airline's website before traveling.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, which represents more than 10,000 hospitality businesses, issued a statement encouraging its members in the storm's path to prioritize safety "beyond basic storm preparation" and waive cancellation fees as well as register with FEMA's Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which offers short-term housing assistance to evacuees.
Disney World, located in Orlando, has adjusted park hours for Tuesday, Sep. 3 and canceled Disney After Hours. If you have a ticket for Disney After Hours, you can exchange the ticket or receive a full refund by calling 407-939-7818 by Dec. 15, 2019 or by emailing Ticket.Inquiries@DisneyWorld.com.
Walt Disney World's hurricane policy stipulates that customers can reschedule or cancel room reservations at Disney Resort Hotels without any additional fees if a hurricane alert is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area.
SeaWorld Orlando and LegoLand Florida will also be closed on Tuesday.
If you would like to donate to relief efforts, Charity Navigator has a list of reputable organizations that can help families in the Bahamas and the United States.
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