Local News

Frances Leaves Holiday Weekend Travel Plans Up In Air

Posted September 1, 2004

— Hurricane Frances could well impact the southeastern United States right around Labor Day, and holiday travel plans should take that into consideration.

What if the hurricane threatens a planned getaway?

According to travel planner Phyllis Calechman, people with flights to some Caribbean destinations that need to be changed or canceled can do on at least two airlines without penalty.

As of Tuesday, Calechman says

USAir

and

American

-- the two major airlines that fly to the Caribbean -- have issued Hurricane Frances information.

That means people traveling to the Bahamas or some Caribbean islands between now and Sept. 9 on those airlines will allow travelers to change or cancel without penalty -- but there is a deadline.

All changes must be made on or before the originally ticketed travel dates.

Calechman said most hotels in Hurricane Alley follow the airlines.

"They've been very accommodating -- both the airlines and the hotels," Calechman said.

So do you stay or do you go?

"I always tell them, "Well, I'd take a wait-and-see attitude,'" Calechman said.

Travel agents say cruise ships are probably the best vacation to be on in case of a hurricane, because they can just change their ports of call and steer clear of trouble.

Agents also recommend purchasing vacation insurance. It is relatively inexpensive and allows travelers to cancel up to the departure date without paying a fee.

Some travelers with plans to spend the Labor Day weekend at the North Carolina coast are deciding it is better to stay at home with Hurricane Frances lurking.

Others appear ready to go, storm or no storm.

At the Ocean Isle Inn, front desk clerk Linda Bazen says about ten people had canceled reservations for the weekend. Cancellations are required seven days in advance to get a refund unless there's a mandatory evacuation.

Carolyn Page of Alan Holden Realty says most of its 300 beach rentals at Holden Beach are booked. Shell Island Resort at Wrightsville Beach says it hasn't received word of any cancellations for its 155 rooms.

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, manager Jim Davis says more than half of the reservations for the Holiday Inn Oceanfront this weekend have been canceled.

Penny Coxe of Sunset Vacations at Sunset Beach says about three-fourths of the people who rented cottages for Labor Day opted for travel insurance.

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