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Irene Forces More Cancellations Sunday

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FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Thousands of tourists are finding themselves stranded in South Florida because of Hurricane Irene. More than 9,000 flights have been canceled nationwide because of weather along the east coast.

Fort Lauderdale International Airport reported that 44 arrivals and 48 departures were canceled on Sunday.  Many passengers aboard the Allure of the Seas, which docked Sunday morning at Port Everglades, are being forced to make alternative travel plans to get home.

Miami International Airport officials report there were 104 arrival/departure cancellations due to weather conditions related to Hurricane Irene.

“We are frustrated because they don’t help you for nothing,” said Mayra Baez. Her flight home to Boston was cancelled. “There’s a discount for the hotel and you know everybody is angry.”

Airports including Boston, Baltimore, JFK, La Guardia, and Philadelphia have all reported departure cancellations to Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Complicating the matter for travelers is that many of those large cities are hubs for several airlines.

JetBlue’s hub is New York City, which means that airline’s entire operation is being impacted.

Southwest, which flies out of Fort Lauderdale, also has a hub in Baltimore which complicates travel for much of the east coast on the budget airline.

Most never expected this and hadn’t budgeted for an extra week of vacation. But that is exactly what many are finding themselves having to pay for because flight are not expected to resume for at least a week.

“They were telling us Sunday and they put on standby for friday so that was like our earliest we could have gotten,” said Andres Diaz, a New Yorker unable to fly home after a seven day cruise.

Other avenues of transportation were also problematic on Sunday. Greyhound and Amtrack were both cutting back on routes along the east coast.

“We’re not too sure what we’re gonna do because the whole coast is getting hit,” said Anthony Venditto, trying to get home to Long Island from Miami. “So we’re afraid of being able to get gas you know on the way home.”

When a big storm threatens to delay or cancel your flight, here are some tips:

1. CHECK YOUR STATUS

To avoid getting stranded at the airport, check your flight status early and often. Check at least once on the day you’re flying and again before heading to the airport.

2. PREPARE

Once you’re ready to head to the airport, come prepared. Write down your flight number and departure time. Do the same for similar flights. This will make things easier if the airline lets you change your flight for free and you need to rebook with an airline agent.

3. WORK ALL THE ANGLES

If you’re already at the airport when your flight is canceled, it’s time for double duty. Walk over to customer service. While in line, dial the customer service number. You’ll probably reach someone on the phone before getting to the front of the line. Want a third option? Try Twitter. Some airlines have already begun to help stranded passengers over the social media site.

4. CAREFUL ABOUT CHANGES

If you push back your flight, be sure about your new plans before you lock them in. Otherwise, you’ll be out $150. Many airlines only waive change fees once in bad weather.

5. VOUCHER OR CASH

If you cancel your booking altogether, the airline might offer you a voucher for a future flight. But you can ask for cash instead.

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