Author Topic: Vacation Booked for Puerto Rico in October... How to deal with Delta Airlines?  (Read 3104 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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In July, my GF and I booked our first trip out of the contiguous US with 2 friends to Puerto Rico for October 14-18. Things have obviously changed quite a bit since then and today PR is supposed to have the "largest hurricane in over a century".

I chose Delta over other airlines as their ticket price was lower, with all fees included we are paying $405 per person roundtrip (our alternatives were around $600 with other airlines).

Based on what I have read, Delta has some pretty nasty cancellation fees (it appears to be $200, which in this case represents half of the total cost).

I'm wondering if any of you all have dealt with Delta before and what the best strategy would be here? With the weather, there is a chance they don't even fly, but things could change in the next few weeks. Regardless, if PR gets destroyed (from what I have read, it takes a longgg time to get electricity back there), I'd prefer NOT to go there, even if Delta is making the flights.

One thought is today might be a good day to call as they might have more leniency as the hurricane touches down. Also, if they would offer a refund, I'd likely just pick a new destination, which would be in their best interest. Thoughts?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Can't hurt to call.  My guess is if the flight is still happening, you will be on the hook.  The risk of booking vacation in the Caribbean during hurricane season.


  • Handlebar Stache
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I heard on NPR that certain airlines are waiving cancellation and rebooking fees for flights affected by Maria. Your dates may be too late for that, but it doesn't hurt to call and see what you can negotiate. Rebooking might be more successful than canceling.


  • Magnum Stache
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I'm a veteran of many hurricane-season work stints int BVI (rode out 2 separate Cat 3s).  Normally, we would be headed down there in 2 weeks, but the USVI and the BVI are in a disaster state right now after direct Category 5 and 4 hits, with a lot of the residents gone or trying to leave, problems with fresh water and food for remaining residents (never mind electricity), most infrastructure damaged or destroyed, and civil unrest causing security issues.

Now, Puerto Rico has much more robust civil infrastructure, police force, etc.  Also, some parts of the island are likely to be much harder hit than others.  However, if the situation ends up as bad there as the Virgin Islands, it'll be several months minimum before I would even consider venturing down there unless you absolutely must. 

As to airlines, American has never outright refunded tickets to us, but we've never asked.  The airport is usually one of the first things they try to open so that emergency relief can come in and people can be evacuated. Chances are you will be on the hook for the ticket.  However, you can probably transfer the ticket for a fee of a 100-200$.

Good luck.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Here's Delta's page on Irma affected travel:

They are waiving change fees for a travel period 9/6-9/20 (Turks and Caicos and St Thomas much longer), with Irma making landfall across the Caribbean on the early side of that span. Delta doesn't have a Maria page up yet, from what I can tell.

The thing to do is contact Delta and explore your options with them. I would not call today, as your situation is not an urgent one from any reasonable interpretation of that phrase and the eye of the hurricane is still sitting over the island. Let Delta Care handle the people who are having their travel and lives disrupted today.

They will come up with a plan for Maria aftermath once the storm passes and the situation on the island can be determined. You're not likely to get a better answer today than 3 days from now, IMO.


  • Pencil Stache
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Visited Cruise Critic earlier where a number of folks have cruises scheduled in these areas.  Lots of uneasiness, but the one detail I heard is that trip insurance won't honor a cancellation more than 30 days beyond the actual hurricane. PR is a major departure point but if the governor is saying power grid might not be back to its historical "frequent rolling black out" standard of service for 4-6 months... well, I wouldn't want to visit.  The "crisis after the crisis", as they say in crisis management circles is that a season or more of Carribean travel revenue is going to be essentially lost, along with many, many supporting small businesses that will be boarded up.  Most small businesses can't survive past 30 days with a total loss of revenue.


  • Handlebar Stache
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With Maria's landfall, I'd keep an eye on this Delta page:  Hurricane Maria

Looking at their policies on other devastated islands, you'll be able to use the fare toward another flight later, either to SJU or another city.  I'm surprised they don't seem to be waiving the $200 change fee, though, if you fly elsewhere.  That's absurd.


  • Pencil Stache
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We go through this every few years, never with Delta but with other airlines.  This year was JetBlue and Spirit for a trip to Ft. Lauderdale less than a week after Irma.  I suggest that you figure out if you actually want to go on the trip and if the area you are going to sustained damage.  You may be surprised at how fast these places rebuild since they are very used to hurricanes. 

If you do decide to cancel or change your trip, DO NOT take responsibility for changing your plans.  Make sure that you act as if you have been forced into this decision.  Normally, they will say that you have to pay a rescheduling fee or something similar.  Politely say that you are not responsible for the change and therefore do not want to pay for the fee.  For us, the Spirit customer rep said that we were responsible for the change fee.  When we pushed back, we got a full refund to our credit card.  For JetBlue, my husband had canceled through Expedia (huge mistake), but we got a credit to use within a year.  When we went to rebook (since flights to FLL are now $80 round trip!), we were told that it was just best to make a new reservation since we had to pay a rebooking fee.  We pushed again stating that we were forced to rebook since the airline had canceled our flight.  This one took about 15 minutes, but we got the fee waived. 


  • Walrus Stache
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Delta is not responsible for the weather or natural disasters.  As long as the flight is running, they can insist that their policies stand.  The airlines are very good at getting flights running after a disaster.

In the event of massive disruption to their schedules, they may choose to make changing flights cheaper / easier, to help them deal with the passengers caught up in the mess, or for PR purposes, but this is at their own decision.     I have never had success with airlines waiving a cancellation fee or a change booking fee upon request.   

If I am worried about cost in the event of a cancellation (at my choice), I will pre buy travel cancellation insurance "for any reason".   That adds a fair amount to the total trip cost...