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U.S. airlines brace themselves, passengers for Hurricane Irma

U.S. airlines brace themselves, passengers for Hurricane Irma
From Reuters - September 6, 2017

(Reuters) - As Hurricane Irma bore down on the southern United States on Wednesday, airlines adjusted flight schedules, made cancellations and assured passengers they would not have to pay unusually high fares ahead of the storms arrival.

Irma, the second powerful hurricane to approach the United States in as many weeks, was expected to make landfall in Florida by the weekend, and as of Wednesday, it had already pummeled islands in the Caribbean with rain, pounding winds and surging surf.

While the storms precise trajectory remained uncertain, airlines preemptively canceled flights in the likely affected regions and put in place travel waivers for customers to reschedule plans.

American Airlines, the largest U.S. carrier by passenger traffic, on Wednesday said it would begin winding down operations in south Florida, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, on Friday. Miami-bound flights arriving on Friday from Europe and South America were canceled.

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue announced fare caps on flights out of Florida - $99 on JetBlue and $399 on Delta - for residents trying to get out of the storms path.

We want those trying to leave ahead of the hurricane to focus on their safe evacuation rather than worry about the cost of flights, JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said.

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