Airlines Issue Travel Waivers As Tropical Storm Elsa Approaches Florida
Elsa is expected to reach near-hurricane strength with 70 mile-per-hour sustained winds in the next 24 hours, especially near the Tampa Bay area on the western coast of Florida.
Several airlines have issued travel waivers for flights in and out of Florida this week as Tropical Storm Elsa made its way closer and closer to the state on Tuesday.
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, and Frontier Airlines all issued storm-related advisories for several cities in Florida, including Key West, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Orlando.
The waivers were issued for travel through at least Wednesday and allow all passengers to change their flight without incurring a change fee or, in many cases, having to pay the difference in fare.
While several airlines have dropped change fees in general, there are some exceptions like for basic economy fares.
On Tuesday, the storm had begun to strengthen, bringing rain and high winds with gusts as high as 48 miles per hour to the Florida Keys, The Miami Herald reported. Elsa is expected to reach near-hurricane strength with 70 mile-per-hour sustained winds in the next 24 hours, especially near the Tampa Bay area on the western coast of Florida.
"The main area of rain and gusty winds will overspreading the Fort Myers area later this morning, and then expand northward over the rest of west-central Florida through this evening and overnight," the National Weather Service Tampa Bay tweeted on Tuesday.
To avoid the brunt of the storm, Tampa International Airport said it would suspend commercial operations at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and wouldn't resume them until at least 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Kevin Guthrie, Florida's emergency management director, told The Weather Channel that residents should be prepared for potential extended power outages.
Tropical Storm Elsa began to move up the coast of Florida on Tuesday but not before leaving devastation in its wake, killing at least three people as it thrashed several Caribbean Islands, The Associated Press reported. In Cuba, officials were forced to evacuate 180,000 people.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.