Hurricane Earl Threatens Labor Day Plans

Gina Scanlon

Those of you who have taken time to check your usual websites in the midst of packing your bikini and loafers for that Labor Day trip to the Hamptons, CMIQ is here to help.

All East Coaster’s hearts skipped a beat this week with the news of a pending Category 4 hurricane quite possibly named after a show about a modern day hillbilly. Hurricane Earl may prove to be nothing but a big bully, but how are travel businesses planning to serve their customers during this confusing and possibly disappointing next couple of days.

After speaking with Media Relations representatives from both Amtrak and Southwest Airlines, I can safely say, it’s all under control.

Media Relations Manager of Amtrak Government Affairs and Communications, Mark Magliari, says there are a number of ways Amtrak is planning to tackle possible challenges of the hurricane. First of all, any Amtrak passenger who has provided a contact phone number within their itinerary will be notified by an automated system giving them updated news about their trip. Secondly, a service alert will be sent to all relevant local media outlets along the East Coast issuing a press release from Amtrak about any disruptions. The national media will also be alerted. Alert flags will also be implemented on Amtrak’s website.

But possibly the best way to track immediate updates, Magliari wants to encourage its customers to watch Amtrak’s Twitter and Facebook page, which will be giving the latest information for travelers.

Private forecasting companies also work with Amtrak, but at the end of the day, as Magliari mentioned, we all rely on the National Weather Service. "What’s important is to let our passengers know what is occurring so they can make the best decision for them on how to proceed."

If a train is cancelled, customers are liable for a full refund, or they can reschedule.

Southwest Airline’s Paul Flaningan from the Communications Office, stated, "It’s important to note that people affected by this weather disruption can rebook on Actually, the majority of people do this. However, our phone reps are trained and ready to take calls to help accommodate Passengers. Flaningan also released the following information regarding the hurricane:

Southwest Airlines is closely monitoring the tropical weather activity in the Atlantic Ocean. Given the size of Hurricane Earl and the storm's forecasted proximity to the Coastline, we may experience temporary interruptions to our scheduled flight service over the next couple of days.

Customers holding reservations for travel to/from Boston Logan (BOS), Long Island/MacArthur (ISP), Norfolk (ORF), or Providence (PVD) from Thursday, September 2 thru the close of business Saturday, September 4, are eligible to reschedule their flight in accordance with our accommodation procedures.

Also, breaking news from AirTran Airways. The airline is going to offer passengers who have booked flights to and from affected airports from September 1- 4 withiout any penatly.