Colombia’s largest airline Avianca cancelled all its flights to Florida yesterday due to the danger presented by Hurricane Matthew. It is also offering ticket changes free of charge for any passengers who had reserved trave along these routes this weekend, which included Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando.
Naturally, given the strength of a storm that last weekend caused mass disruptions — and may have swung the peace vote — in Avianca’s home country, more flight complicationz are likely in the days to come. So it is best to avoid unnecessary trips to the southern East Coast of the United States until the weather blows over.
“Avianca will exempt payment of date change fees for people with booked flights on October 7, 8, and 9 for changes of up to one month after the starting date of your booked trip,” said Avianca in a statement. “This change can be made in accordance with the availability of spots in the flight itinerary.”
In addition to all scheduled flights between Colombia and Florida, others were canceled with legs in Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras.
While Southern Florida is now largely out of the massive hurricane’s path, concerned residents on the Eastern seaboard as far north as the Carolinas have been boarding up their windows and heading inland to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Though some coastal residents historically have taken pride in staying home and riding out storms, that mentality is now less prominent than it was in the past.
Emergency management officials are glad to see it go. They have spent decades urging people to be cautious and not put themselves in harm’s way before a hurricane. In addition to the potential for personal danger — or death — rescue missions to try to save the stranded or injured occupy precious disaster-response resources that should be devoted to dealing with the truly unavoidable damage from the catastrophe.
People are increasingly getting the message. Hurricane Katrina in 2006 changed everything when it destroyed half of New Orleans, and Superstorm Sandy showed that the worst Mother Nature has to offer knows no northern bounds when it ravaged New Jersey, the New York metro area, and beyond. Add in the record-setting gauntlet of four hurricanes that made landfall in Florida in 2004 — plus Rita, Wilma, and Ike in the years to come — and very few people still consider it brave to stay home and court disaster. More and more, it just looks stupid.
So it is no surprise, and with great sense, that Avianca is employing the precautionary principle. A few people will be upset that their travel planes were inconvenienced. But nobody will die.