Tourists and residents seeking to flee South Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma found the odds of snagging airplane seats between slim and none as airlines and airports prepared to suspend operations before the end of Friday.
Though the airline added 16 flights to Dallas, New York and Philadelphia to keep up with the increase in demand from 3,600 passengers, American Airlines is winding down flight service out of MIA, Thursday.
Delta Air Lines had seats on "very few flights" in South Florida but more at airports farther north including central Florida, said spokesman Anthony Black.
The airlines service has reportedly announced that until September 10, no direct flight originating from Florida will be more than $99, and any flight that has another connecting trip will be capped at $159.
All 40 flights from Miami to O'Hare International Airport on Saturday and Sunday have already been cancelled by the airline, according to their website.
An areas already pummeled by the powerful storm, flight operations had been rolled back and halted altogether.
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On top of additional flights, several airlines announced they were waiving fees or setting price caps on flights in and out of areas affected by the storm.
Other locations near the coast are still being monitored by the airline. People are advised to contact their individual airlines carriers for more information about their flights.
A public relations consultant said a Delta ticket from Miami to Phoenix on Expedia for her friends' daughter jumped from $547 to more than $3,200. He got a ticket to Detroit for $700, he said, "because nobody wants to go there". As a result of the ticketing surge, airlines' dynamic pricing models are presenting some customers with flight options that cost thousands of dollars more than usual, leading to accusations of price gouging.
While an airport is generally a safe place to take shelter, officials ask that people do not come to the airport for that objective.
"The fare structure hasn't changed it's just that most of us usually have the luxury of buying in advance and aren't exposed to these kind of prices", said Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Airline Weekly.
His office said Nelson is "pleased" airlines were doing everything they could to "help get impacted Floridians to safety".