[For the latest on Hurricane Dorian, follow our live coverage.]
As Hurricane Dorian heads for the United States, Florida airports, hotels and other businesses on Saturday accommodated travelers who tried to change their plans for the long holiday weekend.
Forecasters expect the Category 4 storm to swerve north along the Florida’s eastern shore before it makes landfall.
Concerned officials in the Florida Keys asked visitors to leave the island chain, if possible, but they did not order a mandatory evacuation or shut down hotels.
Which airports are closing?
Orlando International Airport (MCO) will halt commercial flights on Monday beginning at 2 a.m., the airport announced on Twitter on Friday.
In a statement posted with the tweet, the airport said the decision to close had been made after the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority executive leadership and emergency management leaders met with airline officials, representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration, Air Traffic Control Tower representatives as well as Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport representatives, baggage handling firms and rental car companies Friday afternoon.
Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) will close after the last flight departs Sunday night and it will remain closed until further notice, the airport said in a statement late Friday. Its airfield will only be open for emergencies and the airport is “not a shelter.”
In the Bahamas, Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) in Freeport closed on Friday and will reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The airport’s statement noted that the opening “is subject to prevailing conditions.”
Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in Nassau, Bahamas, remained open on Friday and was expected to open as usual on Saturday. A statement from the airport encouraged travelers to communicate with their airlines about specific flight updates.
“Representatives are continuing to monitor reports from the National Hurricane Center and the Bahamas Department of Meteorology regarding the projected path of Hurricane Dorian, and are collaborating with airline partners to understand their own flight plans in view of projected impacts of the storm in key source markets,” the statement said.
Are airlines offering discounted fares?
With the path of the hurricane still shifting, some airlines are offering lower, capped prices on flights out of the state, and some are waiving baggage and pet fees.
Delta capped fares on nonstop flights out of Florida at between $299 and $599 in the main cabin and between $499 and $799 in the forward cabin now through Sept. 4. American Airlines capped fares at $499 one-way nonstop in economy or $699 in domestic first class. JetBlue did not announce that it was capping flights, but a search out of several Florida airports showed lower flight prices than are common, with most flights at $199.
A search for flights out of Florida throughout the weekend found that many flights were already sold out.
What if I am traveling with my pet?
In addition to waiving cancellation and change fees, many airlines are also waiving pet and baggages fees for flights out of Florida.
People flying out of one of the Florida airports included in American’s waiver can have the fee for in-cabin pets waived and can check two bags for free. The number of carry-on pets allowed in the cabin is temporarily lifted for these same cities.
Delta also said it is waiving baggage and in-cabin pet fees for passengers flying from seven Florida airports between Aug. 30 and Sept. 4.
What are hotels doing?
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, a nonprofit hospitality trade association that includes 10,000 restaurant and hotel members, urged its members to waive cancellation fees.
Diamond Resorts is waiving cancellation fees at its coastal resorts of The Cove on Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach Regency, Crescent Resort on South Beach and the Charter Club of Naples Bay.
“Our teams are on the ground preparing for the storm, and will comply with any mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders that may be issued,” said Mike Flaskey, the chief executive of Diamond Resorts.
Rosen Hotels and Resorts, which includes eight hotels in the Orlando area, waived its cancellation fees for the weekend. The company will allow tourists who are stuck in the area to stay at a discounted price and is offering discounted prices to locals. Pet fees are waived at this hotel as well.
Hilton is also waiving modification and cancellation fees for people affected by the hurricane who have reservations through Sunday, regardless of their destination.
Marriott said its hotels that are in the path of the hurricane have implemented storm preparation protocols and affected hotels are reviewing their cancellation fees. Cancellation details may vary from hotel to hotel, so the company urges guests to contact their specific property.
Airbnb put its extenuating circumstances policy into effect for Florida on Thursday and will allow people with reservations in much of Florida to cancel their stays without penalty through Sept. 1.
I have a trip to Disney World planned. What’s going on there?
In a statement on Friday, Disney said that although Walt Disney World Resort is operating under normal conditions, weekend sporting events would be canceled and its Blizzard Beach Water Park would be closed on Sunday.
“We are also contacting guests with current and upcoming reservations at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to plan for anticipated weather impacts,” the statement said.
Some people were canceling planned visits. Alex Warren was supposed to go to the park this weekend. Her husband was particularly looking forward to checking out the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction, which opened on Thursday. But the hurricane caused the couple and their friends to cancel the weekend trip.
“It looks like the hurricane is headed right toward Orlando and we’d rather be safe than sorry,” Ms. Warren said. “And we don’t want to leave our pets alone during a storm like this.”
Ms. Warren, who moved to Pompano Beach, Fla., in December, said that this was going to be their first trip to Disney. The couple’s passes for the parks cost about $600 and they had reserved an Airbnb nearby, but hadn’t paid for it yet.
But not everyone is ready to cancel their plans.
“The Disney property is well built and I know that we will be safe there,” said Brooke Herring, an annual Disney pass holder, who drove to Orlando on Friday night from Alabama for a Disney Halloween party.
“It’s a special ticket event that I’ve been really looking forward to,” she said.