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UPDATE: Delta adds 3,000 more seats in preparation for Irma

September 9, 2017 Aviation No Comments Email Email

As Category 5 Hurricane Irma roars through the Caribbean towards Florida, Delta has upsized aircraft and added flights to airports in Punta Cana, Nassau, Freeport, Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota, Orlando and more. More than 2,000 seats were added Thursday and 1,300 for Friday to airports along Irma’s path to help customers evacuate the area.

Delta’s Strategic Planning Team in the airline’s Operations and Customer Center, along with the airline’s meteorologists and other operational leaders are keeping a close eye on the storm’s forecasted path.

Delta has capped one-way fares in all cabins at $399 for flights to and from southern Florida through Sept. 13. Delta has been examining and adjusting fares in Florida since early this week, when Irma’s path became apparent and demand to fly out of the area surged.

In addition, Delta is waiving all baggage and pet-in-cabin fees for customers traveling to or from the cities covered by a weather waiver issued for the region this week. Delta is also waiving fees associated with flying unaccompanied minors from airports affected by Hurricane Irma.

Airports in Irma’s wake, including St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana (SXM), Santiago (STI), St. Thomas (STT) and San Juan (SJU) international received damage from hurricane force winds and storm surge.

Delta’s operational plan is as follows:

St. Thomas (STT) and St. Maarten (SXM) remain closed due to infrastructure damage. Delta has canceled flights Thursday and Friday. Additional schedule changes may be required pending facility evaluation.

Miami (MIA), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) and West Palm Beach (PBI) are expected to close Friday night. Delta will cancel its operation Saturday and likely Sunday, pending updates from the airport authority.

Orlando may see winds as high as 50 knots on Sunday night which may prompt the closure of the passenger tram system.

Delta has expanded the Hurricane Irma weather waiver to include airports along the Georgia and South Carolina coast.

 

2 p.m. Thursday update

As Category 5 Hurricane Irma roars through the Caribbean towards Florida, Delta has upsized aircraft and added flights to airports in Punta Cana, Nassau, Freeport, Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota, Orlando and more. More than 2,000 seats have been added to airports along Irma’s path to help customers evacuate the area (see chart below).

Delta’s Strategic Planning Team in the airline’s Operations and Customer Center, along with the airline’s meteorologists and other operational leaders are keeping a close eye on the storm’s forecasted path. Current weather models suggest the eye of the storm will hit Providenciales in Turks and Caicos and Nassau Friday into Saturday with a sustained strong impact in that area of the Caribbean before Irma continues towards south Florida. Key West, Fla., is expected to fare better than previously expected but the airport will close at 8 p.m. Friday. Irma will hit Miami and Ft. Lauderdale beginning Saturday and will continue northeast along the coast.

Delta has capped one-way fares in all cabins at $399 for flights to and from southern Florida through Sept. 13. Delta has been examining and adjusting fares in Florida since early this week, when Irma’s path became apparent and demand to fly out of the area surged.

In addition, Delta is waiving all baggage and pet-in-cabin fees for customers traveling to or from the cities covered by a weather waiver issued for the region this week. Delta is also waiving fees associated with flying unaccompanied minors from airports affected by Hurricane Irma.

Henry Harteveldt, a San Francisco-based travel industry analyst, explained airline pricing practices are based on many factors, including supply and demand.

“There’s only so much airline capacity to any destination. When bad weather hits, there’s typically a surge of last-minute demand. Normally, these last-minute fares may be expensive. When bad weather may affect a city or region, an airline can make more last-minute, lower-fare seats available to help people who need to travel find and get an affordable fare.”

Airports in Irma’s wake, including St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana (SXM), Santiago (STI), St. Thomas (STT) and San Juan (SJU) international received damage from hurricane force winds and storm surge.

Delta’s current operational plan is as follows:

St. Thomas (STT) and St. Maarten (SXM) remain closed due to infrastructure damage. Delta has canceled flights Thursday and Friday. Additional schedule changes may be required pending facility evaluation.

Miami (MIA), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) and West Palm Beach (PBI) are expected to close Friday night. Delta will cancel its operation Saturday and likely Sunday, pending updates from the airport authority.

Orlando may see winds as high as 50 knots on Sunday night which may prompt the closure of the passenger tram system.

Delta has expanded the Hurricane Irma weather waiver to include airports along the Georgia and South Carolina coast as well.

Normal operations are expected for Santo Domingo (SDQ), Port-au-Prince (PAP), Havana (HAV) and Punta Cana (PUJ) today.

Seats Delta has added by market:

Airport Thursday*
Miami (MIA) Approx. 400
Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) Approx. 1,100
Orlando (MCO) Approx. 210
Sarasota (SRQ) Approx. 110
Nassau (NAS) Approx. 300
Freeport (FPO) Approx. 100
Punta Cana (PUJ) Approx. 20

*Subject to change.

4:30 p.m. Wednesday update:

As the Caribbean and Florida prepare for Hurricane Irma, Delta has taken special measures to serve customers in the area.

​Delta has capped one-way fares at $399 for flights to and from southern Florida through Sept. 13. Delta has been examining and adjusting fares in Florida since early this week, when Irma’s path became apparent and demand to fly out of the area surged.

In addition, Delta is waiving all baggage and pet-in-cabin fees for customers traveling to or from the cities covered by a weather waiver issued for the region this week.

Henry Harteveldt, a San Francisco-based travel industry analyst, explained airline pricing practices are based on many factors, including supply and demand.

“There’s only so much airline capacity to any destination. When bad weather hits, there’s typically a surge of last-minute demand. Normally, these last-minute fares may be expensive. When bad weather may affect a city or region, an airline can make more last-minute, lower-fare seats available to help people who need to travel find and get an affordable fare.”

Additionally, Delta has added flights and upsized aircraft on flights out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and south Florida to provide more opportunities for customers to leave. New flights will transport customers from Miami, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Key West to Atlanta, Delta’s largest hub.

The airline has issued a weather waiver to reflect the expected travel disruption to destinations in south Florida and throughout the Caribbean. The waiver allows customers to change plans without incurring a fee. Customers whose flights are cancelled or delayed for 90 minutes are entitled to a refund.

Delta is preparing for potential storm damage in the area through its longstanding partnership with the American Red Cross. The Delta Air Lines Foundation donated $250,000 to the Red Cross in the aftermath of Harvey, and the airline has directed more than $125,000 in employee donations to disaster relief on the Gulf coast. Customers can continue to support relief efforts for Harvey and Irma by donating miles to the Red Cross through SkyWish, the charitable arm of Delta’s loyalty program SkyMiles. Delta will match donations up to 10 million miles. Customers can also donate through Delta’s Customer Microsite, created in partnership with the Red Cross. Donations will go toward immediate relief needs.

Armed with the latest forecast from the airline’s meteorology team, Delta operated its last scheduled flight to and from San Juan on Wednesday ahead of the storm. Flight 431 from New York-JFK arrived at 12:01 p.m. to nine miles of visibility and light rain. Winds were around 24 knots with gusts up to 31 knots – all well below operating limits for the 737-900ER to safely operate. Flight 302 then departed San Juan at 12:41 p.m., just 40 minutes after landing, with 173 customers on board.

“Our meteorology team is the best in the business,” said Erik Snell, Vice President – Delta Operations and Customer Center. “They took a hard look at the weather data and the track of the storm and worked with the flight crew and dispatcher to agree it was safe to operate the flight. And our flight and ground crews were incredible in their effort to turn the aircraft quickly and safely so the flight could depart well before the hurricane threat.”

Delta’s proprietary flight weather viewer app that pilots use to help predict turbulence was another tool used by crews to make the final San Juan flights as smooth as possible.

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