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Services closed after hurricane
As of Tuesday, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International and the Gulfport-Biloxi International airports remained closed to all traffic, except relief and rescue flights. No reopening dates were announced.
Airlines continued to divert hundreds of flights from the region each day and to divert aircraft to relief efforts. Many waived cancellation fees or other penalties for affected passengers. Each carrier had its own policy, updated frequently. Some policies in effect as of Tuesday:
Southwest: The low-cost carrier, the largest operator out of New Orleans with 24% of the market share, normally schedules 56 nonstop departures each day to 16 cities, including Los Angeles, said spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger. All were canceled at least through Monday.
Unlike many airlines, Southwest doesn't charge change fees, but if you rebook, and the new fare is higher than your original fare, you normally have to pay the difference. Southwest is waiving the requirement to pay the fare difference on re-bookings for some passengers affected by Katrina, Eichinger said.
According to the airline's website, if you were booked to travel to New Orleans between Aug. 26 and Sept. 30, you can switch at no extra charge to Houston; Little Rock, Ark.; Nashville; Birmingham, Ala.; or Jackson, Miss. Your departure city must remain the same, and you must complete travel by Sept. 30. The fare difference is also waived for those dates if you were scheduled to depart from New Orleans, as long as you rebook to depart from one of those five other cities and your arrival city is the same.
If you held a reservation to travel to or from New Orleans between Aug. 26 and Monday and you did not travel, you can request a refund. If your New Orleans reservation was for travel Tuesday through Jan. 9, you can request a refund or schedule alternate travel. Refund requests must be made by Sept. 30.
American: Refunds or other concessions were available if you booked your ticket on or before Aug. 24 to six of the affected cities. Details varied by date and city.
If you were ticketed for travel to or from New Orleans through Sept. 30, you could request a refund or rebook to several other airports in the region, including Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. For travel through Oct. 31, vouchers were being offered for nonrefundable tickets.
Delta: The airline waived change fees for travel to and from about 20 cities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, depending on the dates of travel.
Rebooking deadlines have passed for most of these, but as of Tuesday, according to Delta's website, you could still rebook without penalty to, from or through New Orleans or Gulfport, Miss., until Oct. 31. Tickets should have been purchased on or before Aug. 27 for travel between Aug. 27 and Oct. 31. You may owe fare differences between the old and rebooked flights.
United: Change fees and some other restrictions were waived for customers ticketed before Aug. 29 for travel to or from New Orleans between Aug. 25 and Oct. 31. Customers with unused tickets for that period could request a refund or reschedule to another city within 650 miles of New Orleans.
Hundreds of hotels and inns were affected by the hurricane. Some were damaged or cut off from roadways; many more, hundreds of miles away, housed evacuees and relief workers Companies issued updates:
Cendant: Richard Roberts, a spokesman in Parsippany, N.J., for Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Super 8 and five other brands operated by giant Cendant Corp., said he believed fewer than 200 of the company's hotels were in areas that were damaged by winds or floods from the hurricane. But hundreds more were sheltering storm victims and rescuers.
Disrupted utilities, inoperative cell-phone towers and jammed phone circuits hampered Cendant's attempts to survey damage. Because hotels were giving preference to evacuees and emergency personnel, Roberts urged customers who may have booked rooms along or near evacuation routes to reconfirm their reservations by phone or the brands' websites.
Marriott: The chain set up a toll-free line, (866) 211-4610, for friends and family to call for information about guests and hotel employees in the affected areas.
Through Oct. 1, the company waived cancellation fees for individuals booked at hotels affected by the hurricane or in areas under mandatory evacuation. It waived group cancellation fees through at least Nov. 15.
All its 15 hotels in New Orleans, which include the Marriott, Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance and several other brands, were closed until further notice.
Many hotels in the Gulf Coast and nearby regions that remained open were booked with evacuees and relief workers, Marriott said. It urged guests to call (888) 236-2427 to confirm reservations.
Starwood: The chain, which runs the Sheraton, W and other brands, listed several properties affected by Katrina. Several, such as the Sheraton New Orleans, the W New Orleans and the W New Orleans-French Quarter, were expected to be closed until at least Oct. 31. Others sustained damage but were open.
Family members trying to locate guests and employees were encouraged to send an e-mail to email@example.com.
— Jane Engle