UPDATE 8/25/11: Airlines are expanding the scope of their Hurricane Irene wavers, now offering assistance to passengers traveling to or from Caribbean airports and those on the U.S. East Coast.
United Airlines and Continental Airlines: For the following airports, customers may make one fee-free change to their trip. Those with cancelled flights are entitled to a refund. Baltimore, MD (BWI), Boston, MA (BOS), Charleston, SC (CHS), Hartford, CT (BDL), Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR), Newark, NJ (EWR), New York, NY (JFK), New York, NY (LGA), Norfolk, VA (ORF), Philadelphia, PA (PHL), Providence, RI (PVD), Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU), Richmond, VA (RIC, Washington, D.C. (DCA), Washington, D.C. (IAD), White Plains, NY (HPN)
American Airlines is offering flight changes to passengers traveling through: Baltimore, MD (BWI), Boston, MA (BOS), Hartford, CT (BDL), Newark, NJ (EWR), Norfolk, VA (ORF), New York City, NY - Kennedy (JFK), New York City, NY - La Guardia (LGA), Philadelphia, PA (PHL), Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU), Richmond, VA (RIC), Washington, DC - Dulles (IAD), Washington, DC - Reagan National (DCA), White Plains, NY (HPN), Wilmington, NC (ILM)
US Airways will waive change fees for travelers to and from the following cities: Hartford/Springfield, CT ; New Haven, CT ; Washington, DC (Reagan) ; Washington, DC (Dulles); Bangor, ME ; Bar Harbor, ME ; Portland, ME ; Presque Isle, ME ; Baltimore, MD ; Salisbury, MD ; Boston, MA ; Martha's Vineyard, MA ; Nantucket, MA ; Manchester, NH ; Newark, NJ ; Albany, NY ; Islip, NY ; New York, NY (JFK) ; New York, NY (Laguardia) ; Newburgh, NY ; White Plains, NY ; Allentown, PA ; Harrisburg, PA ; Philadelphia, PA ; Providence, RI
Delta flights that are cancelled or significantly delayed are entitled to a refund. Otherwise, passengers make make a one-time, fee-free change if booked at one of these airports: Jacksonville, NC (OAJ), New Bern, NC (EWN), Wilmington, NC (ILM), Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR), Baltimore, MD (BWI), New York, NY (JFK, LGA, ISP), Newark, NJ (EWR), Newburgh, NY (SWF), Newport News, VA (PHF), Norfolk, VA (ORF), Philadelphia, PA (PHL), Richmond, VA (RIC), Washington, DC (DCA, IAD), White Plains, NY (HPN)
Previously, 8/24/11: Hurricane Irene is expected to make landfall along the East Coast this weekend, washing out travelers' plans and gatecrashing end-of-summer parties. Anticipating the worst, airlines are already offering fee-free flight changes and refunds.
According to the Weather Channel, Irene is currently a powerful category three storm, and the service has added an "extreme" threat level category to describe the impending situation from eastern North Carolina to southern New England. Irene is expected to hit the Carolinas late Friday night, moving through the northeast this weekend into early Monday.
As of 8:00 p.m. eastern time Wednesday, a map showed Irene over the Caribbean islands with winds of 120 mph, moving northwest at 12 mph.
Major airlines are still operating as normal, but are already offering compensation to those whose travel plans have been affected. Right now, that applies to those with flights into or out of Caribbean airports.
Delta is allowing a refund or one-time flight change without penalty.
United travelers may make one change to their trip without penalty, and those with already canceled flights are entitled to a refund.
Continental is offering refunds to those whose Caribbean flights have been cancelled or delayed more than two hours. Penalty-free rescheduling is also being offered.
Stay tuned for more updates.