Airlines, Amtrak Relax Policies

People traveling to and from parts of the East Coast later this week will be allowed to alter their plans without penalties as several airlines and Amtrak (search) eased reservation policies ahead of Hurricane Isabel (search).

By Tuesday afternoon, no carriers had announced flight cancellations. Forecasters said Isabel appeared to be on a course to hit Thursday on the North Carolina coast and move northward through eastern Virginia.

Amtrak canceled some passenger and auto trains in the Southeast on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as a Washington, D.C.-bound train leaving from Chicago on Wednesday. Some trains that were to travel north from Richmond, Va., will instead leave from Washington.

Passengers can get a refund or reschedule at no charge.

American Airlines (search) said customers flying in and out of six states, as well as the nation's capital, through Sept. 23 will be allowed to change the date or time of their flights at no extra charge. The states covered are Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia.

US Airways (search) announced a similar policy change for customers who will be traveling to and from North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. The Arlington, Va.-based carrier's waiver applies to travel scheduled through Friday.

The waiver also applies to US Airways customers scheduled to fly to the Bahamas before Thursday and to Bermuda before Sept. 28.

In the event of a flight cancellation because of the hurricane, US Airways said customers will be allowed, at no extra cost, to book an alternate flight, reschedule travel up to seven days later or receive a refund for the full value of the ticket.

JetBlue Airways (search), meanwhile, said customers scheduled to fly before Friday will be allowed to change their itinerary with no fee or fare increase, as long as they fly by the end of Saturday. Beyond that, the change fee will be waived, but any fare increase will apply.