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Travelers scramble to get out of Florida, catch a price break from airlines

Passengers check the departure board at Miami International Airport on Thursday. South Florida officials have issued a mandatory evacuation for more than a half-million people.
Passengers check the departure board at Miami International Airport on Thursday. South Florida officials have issued a mandatory evacuation for more than a half-million people. AP

With hundreds of thousands of people trying to get out of Miami as Hurricane Irma approaches, American Airlines added flights out of Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale and cut fares to lessen the stress on travelers.

The Fort Worth-based carrier added 21 flights out of Miami International on Thursday and Friday — 16 to DFW, three to JFK in New York, one to Philadelphia and one to Charlotte, N.C. — and two out of Fort Lauderdale — one to Charlotte and one to LaGuardia in New York, both Friday — but it said availability was limited.

The last flight out of Miami was scheduled for 6 p.m. eastern time Friday, scheduled to arrive in DFW at 8:15 p.m. central time. American capped fares at $99 for the main cabin and $199 for premium through Sept 17 for those affected by the storm.

It planned to wind down operations in Orlando Saturday afternoon.

More than a half-million people are under mandatory evacuation orders along the Florida coast and people were scrambling to get out ahead of Irma, a Category 4 hurricane the size of Texas that has already killed 20 people.

One family from Miami Beach arrived at DFW Airport Friday morning and told CBSDFW.com that they spent the whole day Thursday trying to get any flight they could out of Florida.

“We went through [Hurricane] Andrew and we saw the devastation and this is probably the same or a stronger storm. So we were scared," Mayi de la Vega told the news site. “I think everyone’s scared and we’re all praying for all South Florida.”

American isn’t the only airline discounting tickets for those impacted by Irma, Business Insider reports. JetBlue began offering non-stop flights out of Florida for $99 on Wednesday — before the airlines were criticized for skyrocketing costs — and Delta is capping flights out of the affected areas at $399 and waiving in-cabin pet fees.

American canceled more than 2,500 flights through Monday and planned to shut down operations at its hub in Miami as well as in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach. Flights that were scheduled to arrive in Miami on Friday from Europe and South America were canceled. All flights out of Orlando will be canceled on Sunday, the airline said in a statement.

Three hurricanes churned through the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf this week. Satellite imagery from NASA and the NOAA posted on Friday, Sept. 8, showed Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Katia. The imagery shows Irma overtaking the

Tom Uhler: 817-390-7832, @tomuh

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