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Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights in the Southeast ahead of Hurricane Florence

Published September 12th, 2018

In the United States more than 575 flights have been canceled from Wednesday through Friday, flight-tracking service FlightAware counted as of 8:10 a.m. ET. Nearly 170 were canceled Wednesday with another 352 already grounded for Thursday and 57 more for Friday. Nearly all of those cancellations were tied to disruptions in the Carolinas, where Florence was still expected to make a direct hit despite a shifting track.

Several airports along the coast have said schedules would be reduced Wednesday, with no flights at all expected to operate on Thursday or Friday. That includes South Carolina’s Charleston International Airport, the busiest along the coast of the Carolinas. Officials there said flights would wind down Wednesday and would not resume at least until Saturday.

Already, Southwest suspended its operations there Tuesday with no plans to resume until Saturday, at the earliest. The low-cost carrier said it also was grounding its entire Thursday and Friday schedule at the Raleigh/Durham and Norfolk, Virginia, airports. Its flights in Richmond, Virginia, were to be suspended beginning midday Thursday through early Saturday morning.

In addition to Southwest, American – which operates one of its busiest hubs in Charlotte – also had canceled more than 100 flights in the Carolinas through Friday. Many of those were on its regional affiliates that fly between Charlotte and smaller airports along the coast.

Every big carrier was waiving rebooking fees to the area. That would allow travelers in the area to try to find a seat on one of the flights still left on area schedules, or to move their travel until after the storm, without paying change fees that typically cost $200 or more.

The big question now for travelers is Florence’s track, which shifted slightly overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning. The storm is still expected to hit the Carolina coast, but now appears likely to take a turn west toward Georgia – possibly stalling out over the region. Earlier in the week, it appeared as though Florence may move inland farther north, possibly near Washington, D.C.