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Long Island

Some airlines to waive change fees for school break travel

JetBlue Airways Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, broke ground

JetBlue Airways Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, broke ground for the expansion of Terminal 5 at Kennedy Airport, which will give the airline new arrival space for its international flights, and generate thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs by 2015. These planes are at the JetBlue gate at Kennedy. Photo Credit: AP, 2007

US Airways, JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines will waive their change fees for customers who booked tickets for travel during February's midwinter break, which many Long Island school districts have canceled at least in part to make up for days lost to superstorm Sandy.

The companies were responding to a request from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said families could lose thousands of dollars without special consideration.

But the airlines' concessions might not be enough for some.

Mike Jerchower, 45, of hard-hit Oceanside, said his family had bought four one-way tickets on JetBlue and American Airlines from New York to Tampa to visit relatives and Disney World during the break.

"I am $1,800 in the hole for our February airline tickets," he said. "My wife teaches and the kids are in elementary school, and both districts canceled the vacation. It would be unconscionable if the airlines don't issue full refunds, considering the financial stress homeowners are under to make repairs.

"Credits aren't any good; that keeps the money in the pocket of the airline," Jerchower said. "I need that money right now to dig out of thousands of dollars in repair bills."

US Airways will waive change fees, in most cases, for travelers who purchased tickets on or before Oct. 26 and are scheduled to travel between Feb. 13 and 24.

JetBlue said customers who booked trips from or to New York metropolitan airports for Feb. 14 through 25 can rebook flights without penalty fees or receive a credit for the airfare. All changes or cancellations must be completed by the end of the year, the airline said.

A Delta official said the company will waive change fees for those who booked tickets before Nov. 19 and who were supposed to depart from LaGuardia, Kennedy, Newark, White Plains or Newburgh airports for travel between Feb. 15 and 24. Travel must be completed within one year of the original issue date of the ticket.

American will waive change fees for customers traveling from LaGuardia, Kennedy, Newark and White Plains from Feb. 15 through 24 and who bought their tickets before Nov. 29. Customers must book their new flights by Dec. 31 and have a year from the original ticket date to take their trip, the airline said.

US Airways, JetBlue and Delta said they will not offer refunds. American did not immediately respond to a question about that issue.

Royal Caribbean said it had not received Schumer's missive. "When and if we do receive the letter, we will evaluate the request and make a decision," spokeswoman Lyan Sierra-Caro said.

Carnival said Wednesday it had not received Schumer's letter and had no further response Thursday.

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