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A lounge in Daniel K. Inouye International Airport sits mostly empty as Hurricane Lane approaches the island chain on August 22, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Airlines are adding flights from Hawaii, capping airfares and waiving change fees as Hurricane Lane moves closer to the popular vacation destination.
Consumers and lawmakers complained about high fares last year ahead of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that hit Cuba and Florida, prompting image-conscious airlines to cap prices. Availability and demand are main factors when determining airfares, and airlines need to manually change prices.
United Airlines said it added two flights out of Honolulu to its San Francisco hub on Thursday, including one on a Boeing 777-300, the largest in its fleet. It also reduced fares below what last-minute ticket prices would be. A one-way nonstop flight from Honolulu to San Francisco on United, leaving Friday, ranged from $234 to $339.
“We have taken steps to reduce fares beyond what a regular last-minute fare would be,” United spokesman Frank Benenati said, adding that passengers “traveling to, from or through areas” affected by the hurricane can waive their change fees and difference in airfare.
Delta Air Lines added a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles that can carry about 200 passengers. The Atlanta-based carrier as well as American Airlines said fares were also adjusted to prevent sky-high last-minute pricing, but those vary by route and time. Nonstop, one-way fares from Honolulu to Los Angeles on Friday ranged from $249 to $468 on American.
As of Thursday, none of those airlines said it would cancel flights as the current path of the storm isn’t expected to prevent flying. Another concern is damage it may cause to roadways that may prevent crews from getting to airports, said American spokesman Ross Feinstein.
Adding flights to Hawaii is not a simple task during the busy summer travel season, requiring carriers to shuttle additional crews to Hawaii and ensure they have enough rest before they can work a flight.