Airports closing Friday and thousands of flights canceled through Sunday ahead of Irma

Airports are preparing to close Friday night as Hurricane Irma nears South Florida.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood-International Airport said Thursday that the last flight from FLL will depart at 7:45 p.m. Friday; after that time, operations at the airport will cease. The airport will close for business Saturday and Sunday.

Passengers on the Norwegian Escape who do not live in South Florida and can’t get a flight home can remain on the ship for another sailing leaving PortMiami Thursday.

Miami International Airport remains open, but American Airlines, the largest carrier at MIA, will cancel all flights after 4 p.m. Friday. The airport said it will “only close if severe damage or safety concerns from Hurricane Irma result in stranded passengers and non-essential airport employees being evacuated to nearby shelters after the storm.”

Neither FLL nor MIA are designated shelters and parking garages at both airports are at capacity.

Fort Lauderdale will begin operating busses between Terminals 1 and 2 on the upper level at 1 p.m. Friday with hourly departures to desginated shelters for stranded passengers. The busses will transport passengers to Fox Trail Elementary School at 1250 Nob Hill Road in Davie.

Both airports are posting updates on the storm and flights on Twitter at @iflymia and @FLLFlyer.

For travelers affected by the closures and cancellations, here is what you need to know:

Flight cancellations

As of Friday morning, Miami International Airport 271 departures and 324 arrivals — 595 flights total — had been canceled because of Hurricane Irma.

Fort Lauderdale had 276 flight cancellations as of Friday morning.

American Airlines flights to Antigua, Antigua; St. Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis; St. Thomas and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands were canceled through Wednesday — plus two dozen cancellations for flights Thursday and Friday. Flights to Key West, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos were canceled through Thursday. And flights to St. Maarten, Saint Maarten were canceled through Friday.

On Thursday, American Airlines added 16 extra flights from Miami for travelers fleeing Hurricane Irma.

American canceled all flights for Saturday and Sunday. The airline said the last flight out of Miami will depart to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas at 3:49 p.m. Friday. The last inbound Miami flight on American will be a Chicago flight at 12:38 p.m. Friday.

On Thursday, American added 16 extra flights from Miami: 12 to Dallas/Fort Worth, one to Philadelphia and three to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Availability on this flights is “extremely limited,” American said.

Change fees for airlines

▪ American Airlines

American Airlines, which has a large hub at Miami International Airport, is waiving change fees for flights to or from Miami, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Key West, Melbourne, Orlando, Tampa, Palm Beach, Destin/Fort Walton, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Sarasota for travel through Sept. 17.

Change fees are waived as long as tickets were purchased by Tuesday, new tickets are valid for travel through Sept. 30 as long as passengers don’t change their origin or destination cities.

The airline is also waiving change fees for travel to Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia through Sept. 17 for tickets purchased by Wednesday.

In the Bahamas and Cuba, change fee waivers are in effect for travel through Sept. 12 to or from Exuma, Freeport, Marsh Harbour, Nassau, North Eleuthera and San Salvador, Bahamas; and Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Havana, Holguin, Cuba, Santa Clara and Varadero, Cuba.

On Thursday, American Airlines added 16 extra flights from Miami for travelers fleeing Hurricane Irma.

In the Caribbean, American Airlines change fee waivers are in effect for flights through Saturday to or from Anguilla Wallblake, Anguilla; Antigua, Antigua; Beef Island, British Virgin Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Croix and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Kitts, St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Maarten. Saint Maarten; Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; and Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Santiago, Dominican Republic.

▪ JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways waiving fees and fare increases for passengers flying to or from Aguadilla, Ponce and San Juan, Puterto Rico; Puerto Plato, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Santiago, Dominican Republic; Havana, Santa Clara, Camaguey and Holguin, Cuba; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Nassau, Bahamas; Antigua, Antigua; St. Croix and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and St. Maarten, Saint. Maarten through Wednesday, the airline said.

Change fees are waived for JetBlue travel in and out of Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia through Wednesday.

▪ Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is offering waived change fees through Tuesday for flights to Punta Cana and Santiago, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Croix and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Maarten, Saint Maarten; and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

Flights to the following cities will apply for Delta fee waivers through Sept. 30: Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Walton Beach, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Key West, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando, Panama City, Pensacola, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater, West Palm Beach; Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Freeport, Georgetown, Marsh Harbour and Nassau, Bahamas; and Havana, Cuba.

▪ United Airlines

Travel waivers are also in effect for United Airlines flights to Aguadilla and San Juan, Puerto Rico; Havana, Cuba; Nassau, Bahamas; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Santiago, Dominican Republic; Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, Panama City, Pensacola, Tampa and Fort Myers through Tuesday.

▪ Southwest Airlines

For travelers on Southwest Airlines, change fees have been waived for flights through Sept. 17 to or from Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach in the U.S. and Havana, Cuba; Nassau, Bahamas; Punta Cana, Domincan Republic; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

▪ Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines will waive change fees for passengers flying to or from Aguadilla and San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands through Monday. Change fees apply through Tuesday for flights to or from Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Santo Domingo and Santiago, Dominican Republic. Travelers to or from Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando will get change fees waived through Sept. 16. Passengers flying to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina can will get change fees waived through Sept. 19.

Miami Herald staff writer Rene Rodriguez contributed to this report.