Airlines cancel hundreds of flights as Hurricane Matthew hits U.S.

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights for Thursday and again Friday as Hurricane Matthew pelted the Florida coast with high winds and heavy rain.

Flights out of Newark Liberty International Airport heading down to Florida have been canceled as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

Flights out of Newark Liberty International Airport heading down to Florida have been canceled as Hurricane Matthew approaches. (10/6/16)

NEWARK - Airlines canceled hundreds of flights for Thursday and again Friday as Hurricane Matthew pelted the Florida coast with high winds and heavy rain.

The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning, and farther north the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime.

Before 2 p.m. Eastern time, flight-tracking service FlightAware.com reported that 1,500 Thursday flights within the U.S. had been scrapped, with the largest numbers at Fort Lauderdale and Miami. American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, was the hardest-hit carrier, followed by Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

FlightAware said airlines had already canceled 1,300 more flights scheduled for Friday. Delta Air Lines said cancellations were likely to spread to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday.

Airlines often cancel flights before storms hit to prevent passengers from being stranded at airports and to keep their planes in position to recover after the bad weather passes.

Many airlines were letting passengers alter their plans and delay travel for a few days without incurring the usual fee for changing a ticket, which can be $200 for domestic flights. Some, including United Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines, also said they would waive the fare difference for the new ticket.

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Thursday, the last flight out was a Southwest jet to Baltimore, which just beat the 10:30 a.m. curtain.

Orlando International Airport officials tweeted that they expected the airport to close to commercial traffic by 8 p.m. and not reopen until Saturday. As the storm closed in, workers tied down jet bridges, lowered cranes in a construction area, and put away vehicles and other equipment.

While airport closings and flight cancelations made it hard to reach Florida, coastal residents from Florida to South Carolina headed north and inland to escape the hurricane. Hotels in Charlotte, North Carolina, reported brisk business.

Amtrak suspended passenger rail service through Friday between Miami and New York and the auto train between Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida. A line that normally runs from New York to Savannah, Georgia, only went as far south as Washington.

Earlier in the week, several airports in the Caribbean closed, forcing airlines to cancel flights there.

Cruise lines rerouted ships this week to avoid the storm, which in some cases will mean more days at sea or skipping some Caribbean ports.

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

VIDEO: News conference on arrest in murder of 1 VIDEO: News conference on arrest in murder of Sarah Butler
Shop Small: Tons of Toys 2 Shop Small: Tons of Toys
Kevin Hodges (right) is accused of killing his 3 Police: Man used cleaver, sword, knife to kill mom, grandmother
An attorney for Hopatcong Officer Nicholas Maresca says 4 Attorney: Officer had no choice but to hit man in bunny suit
Demolition has begun on a Totowa neighborhood that 5 Demolition begins on Totowa neighborhood damaged by hurricane

advertisement | advertise on News 12

More News

A structure lays on the ground, brought down Hurricane Matthew closes in on Florida with 140 mph winds

A strengthening Hurricane Matthew is steaming toward Florida with winds of 140 mph.

Andrew Esser boards up the glass doors at At least 500K urged to evacuate as Matthew nears Florida

Hurricane Matthew marched toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas and at least a half a

Residents walk in flooded streets as they return Hurricane Matthew slams Haiti, takes aim at US East Coast

Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti's southwestern tip with howling, 145 mph winds Tuesday, tearing off

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE