The downgrade didn't stop airlines from canceling flights, however, as cancellations increased to 690 on Friday from 458 on Thursday, according to FlightStats. American said it will stop operations in Orlando on Saturday afternoon.
Most Florida airports are shutting down Friday night ahead of the storm's expected arrival Saturday. Now major US airlines are augmenting their existing services out of the regions that will be most affected by the storm; either adding flights or using larger planes.
Due to the storm, American has issued a travel alert for more than 40 airports that may be affected by Irma, allowing customers to rebook without change fees.
In response, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey called on the U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday to launch an investigation into potential opportunistic fare hikes by airlines. We've got a lot of kids whose families are in the state of Florida and down south. But as they scour the web for cheap flights, they've increasingly come upon a disappointing reality: most airlines have been charging well over $1,000 for round-trip flights to other US destinations. The airport tweeted that it will "cease commercial airline operations" at 8 p.m. Saturday. He was sending girlfriend Tracy Fatow and 9-month-old son Noah on a flight to NY when they were notified 15 minutes prior to departure that the flight would likely not go out because of the lack of crew.
"I can guarantee you that I don't know anybody in Florida who's ever experienced what's about to hit South Florida", said FEMA administrator Brock Long, The New York Times reported.
"To the extent they have to close the Port of Miami or Port Everglades in Ft".
The timing of Hurricane Irma comes as airlines, after Labor Day, traditionally reduce their supply of seats. You can see the updated weather page for Orlando here.
Several more flights from Florida are scheduled to lane at T.F. Green later today.
"They say this one is so much worse, normally I don't get that nervous for a hurricane", Carolyn Carver said.
"I'm used to snowstorms as being from here, so I'd rather go through a snowstorm than go through a hurricane", said Monique Edwards of Hartford. Driving west on Interstate 10, they passed parked cars with sleeping people inside. "It's supposed to be coming directly over Florida, and they threw us out of the hotel, so we're here".