How Katrina has affected travel

Damage in downtown New Orleans
(Mario Tama / Getty Images)
Times Staff Writer

Hurricane Katrina continued to cause havoc for travelers after it ripped through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Some developments related to travel:

Hundreds of flights into New Orleans and other places were canceled or diverted, and carriers typically waived change fees if passengers rebooked their original route. But each airline had its own restrictions, often updated daily.

Meanwhile, United and American airlines offered incentives to get their customers to donate money to the American Red Cross and other charities responding to Hurricane Katrina. Both airlines offered 500 miles to members of their frequent-flier programs who donated at least $50.

United’s partners include the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and Operation USA. Donations must be made by Oct. 31. More information at (800) 421-4655 or American’s program is only for the Red Cross, and donations must be made by Sept. 30. Information is at

Continental Airlines announced it would donate 1,000 airline tickets to resettle Katrina’s victims elsewhere in the U.S.

Frequent fliers on those airlines and others also can donate accumulated miles to charity. The Red Cross, which is affiliated with many mileage programs, uses donated miles to transport disaster response personnel. For information, see

Hotels: Scores of hotels were evacuated, along with hundreds of thousands of residents of New Orleans and nearby areas, in advance of Hurricane Katrina.

As of Tuesday, Marriott International Inc. had temporarily closed nearly 20 hotels in Alabama and Louisiana.

Marriott spokesman John Wolf, speaking from headquarters in Bethesda, Md., said he knew of no major structural damage to company hotels. Elsewhere, reports were still coming in. News photos, for instance, showed blown-out windows at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans.

Cruises: Some ships were rerouted or didn’t sail.

Carnival Cruise Lines canceled a five-day Holiday sailing to Mexico, scheduled to depart Aug. 29 from Mobile, Ala. Two other ships were diverted from Tampa to Port Everglades, Fla.

The company expected to resume sailing out of Mobile and Tampa, said spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz. New Orleans’ terminal remained closed, so Carnival shifted those departures to Galveston, Texas.

Passports: The New Orleans Passport Agency, which processes applications from Southern California, New York City and other areas, was closed. Recent applicants who need to travel soon were advised to contact the National Passport Information Center at (877) 487-2778. For updates, visit and click on “Passports.”

Staff writer Robin Rauzi and wire services contributed to this report.