Traveling to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico is currently in the recovery phase after the path of Hurricane Maria. The damages caused by Maria have been described as the worst natural disaster in most recent history. If you plan on traveling to Puerto Rico in the next few weeks (maybe even months), here are some travel tips to keep in mind.

Air Travel

The Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan is reported to be operational and relief flights are landing at the same. It has opened the airport for commercial operators but the airlines have not actually flown into San Juan as of today.  In fact, some flights have taken off and because they have not been able to contact with the airport tower, have returned to the U.S.  Other flights have boarded the passengers just to cancel within minutes of pushing back from the gates. However, most flights have been simply cancelled.

The airport management has reported that they can handle 10 flights today and tomorrow (Sunday) and hopefully increasing to 20 flights by next week. However, the decision ultimately belongs to the airlines.

Southwest and Delta had indicated that they would resume flights today. United and JetBlue indicated they were evaluating the situation and do not know when they would resume commercial flights.  However, after reviewing today’s flight status it doesn’t seem like the flights have resumed as planned.

 

As of today, flights to Aguadilla and Ponce have also been cancelled. The airport status’ are unknown and not available online due to the lack of connectivity on the island.

Check your flight status with your airline.  You can do that by calling one of the numbers listed below with your airline to confirm or simply download the phone app and check it occasionally before you head to the airport.

American Airlines – 800-433-7300

Delta Air Lines – 800-221-1212

JetBlue – 800-538-2583

Southwest Airlines – 800-435-9792

Spirit Airlines– 800-772-7117

United Air Lines – 800-241-6522

Ground Transportation

If you are lucky enough to make it to the island, make sure you have your ground transportation coordinated in advance. Although you may be able to make a rental car reservation, you may find yourself without a car when you get there due to operational limitations such as lack of electricity and fuel. Also keep in mind that many roads are closed due to downed trees and poles, washed away roads and bridges, floods and mud slides.

Other key tips

Cash – Make sure you take enough cash for your entire stay. Due to the lack of electricity on the island, most ATMs are out of service and businesses are unable to accept credit cards.

Clothing – Take enough clothing for your entire stay as there is no water available to wash clothing.

Food – Take your own. There are limited supplies on the island and families are in survival mode.

Bottom-line

Be prepared to face a very difficult environment and constant challenges during your trip. A positive attitude and much patience will take you a long way.

 

Photo credit: Stuck in Customs via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA and FlightStats

 

 

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