Science and TechNatural Disasters


Florida Airports Reopen, But Flights Will Be Affected For Weeks

Thousands of flights have been impacted by Hurricane Ian, and there will be ripple effects across all airlines for weeks.
Posted at 8:50 PM, Sep 30, 2022

The first flight since Hurricane Ian took off out of Tampa International Airport. It's one of a slew of Florida airports limping back to normal after the storm impacted thousands of flights and started logisitical ripple effects that could last weeks.

Airports in Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Orlando are among those that shut down as the storm moved through, stranding passengers trying to get to or leave the state.

The Roskopf family is still trying to get home to Wisconsin after their Disney vacation was derailed.

"This is their first time on a plane, their longest trip away from home," said Adam Roskopf,

"They kept us calm, but as it got closer and closer there was a little uneasiness." 

They're not alone. 

Disney provided meal kits during the storm to vacationers, stranded in their rooms.

The company says it will honor partially-used multi-day passes through September next year. Plus, the company is waiving any change or cancellation fees for check-ins scheduled from September 26 to October 7.

The Roskopfs will get out, as Orlando's airport reopened. But it's not so fast to recovery in other parts of the state. Ft. Myers Airport is still closed, except to emergency services.

Sarasota's airport, which saw major damage in the storm, reopened Thursday night, but it was still missing most of its scheduled flights as of Friday afternoon.

Dennis Tajer is a pilot for American Airlines. He told said it's no walk in the park to start flying to impacted airports again after a major storm like Ian.

"There may not be the food services, or maybe there's a water issue," Tajer said. "If a lot of the airport... has been damaged or say the tower has been damaged, now you're going into an uncontrolled airport, which is something we're trained to do, but it's a procedure that's different. The volume of aircraft that can come in may be restricted."

Suzanne Morrow is a senior vice president at Insure-My-Trip, a travel insurance company. She tells Newsy if a person bought insurance before Ian had its name, they're covered if they need to cancel.

"Once a storm is named, you can no longer buy travel," Morrow said. "You can still buy travel insurance, but if something happens related to the storm, you won't be covered."

That means a long road to smooth sailing — or flying — for millions of Floridians and their visitors.