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UPDATED: Hartsfield-Jackson officials monitoring Hurricane Florence

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is monitoring Hurricane Florence and preparing to assist any travelers who get stranded by the storm.

Atlanta airport interim general manager Balram Bheodari said the airport started its preparation a couple of days ago.

“Right now we’re in the monitoring stages,” Bheodari said.  He said he expects cancellations to begin hitting flights to and from coastal areas early to mid-afternoon Thursday.

Bheodari said the airport has amenity kits, bottled water and customer service staff on hand to help any stranded passengers, and he said the airport is talking to concessionaires about keeping food and beverage outlets open to serve customers.

“Those that are stranded in the airport, we will help the airline to provide services to those customers,” Bheodari said.

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He also said Hartsfield-Jackson is working with an airport coalition called the Southeast Airports Disaster Operations Group, or SEADOG, formed after Hurricane Katrina for airports to assist other airports hit by natural disasters.

“We don’t think it will impact Atlanta and the Atlanta airport, but we are prepared to support other airports in the Southeast region that may be impacted, Bheodari said. 

Delta Air Lines said it has multiple teams of employees that have “developed playbooks” to respond to hurricanes or natural disasters affecting its service.

The company also has a group of employees called the Peach Corps who volunteer to help at airports when needed to greet or direct customers, manage lines or assist in other ways.

Atlanta-based Delta has capped fares for certain flights from cities in the path of the hurricane and is waiving a change fee for travelers with flights booked to, from or through affected cities.

Delta has not yet announced how many flights may be canceled due to the hurricane. The airline, which has a team of meteorologists, said it expects to make decision on flight cancellations or other disruptions at coastal airports about 24 hours before the storm makes landfall.

Some flight cancellations may be caused by airport conditions, such as flooding or power outages, according to Delta.

Other airlines are also waiving change fees. Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson, warned that flights may be disrupted and is allowing passengers flying to, from or through affected cities to rebook without paying any additional charge, with certain restrictions.

About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.

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