Puerto Ricans trying to leave the island for Florida come across pricey flights

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-08 18:02:28-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After sleeping in their car Tuesday night, a Puerto Rican family was on their way to Florida to stay with family. Many people on the island filled parking lots and parks overnight because they were too afraid to sleep inside of their homes.

Those trying to leave the island are finding that plane ticket prices are much higher than they usually are.

A West Palm Beach man said he was lucky he bought tickets soon after the first earthquake. Pedro Roman said he spent a couple hundred dollars more than what he normally would pay for a one-way ticket.

On Wednesday, Roman's sister was rushing to get to her gate at the airport in San Juan. She says she's getting out of the island at the right time.

"We haven’t sleep in like three days, we are very scared," said Roman.

Just as she arrived at the airport she said she heard from friends that Ponce had felt another quake, not as strong as the 6.4 that rocked the southwestern coastal communities Tuesday, but perhaps a sign that there's no relief in sight.

"I want to be in a safe place. Seeing the faces of my daughter and my son, they are pretty worried too, I have to do this. There’s no option now," said Roman about heading to Florida.

Roman's brother bought tickets for her and her children a few days ago. Now some airlines show plane tickets out of the island on Wednesday for hundreds more than what Roman said they normally are, which is between $70 to $120.

"The next day that I check, it was more than $1,000 to go from San Juan to Florida and it's ridiculous," she said.

The Attorney General's office says that airlines prices do not fall under the state's price gouging statute, and even then the statute only applies when Florida is under a state of emergency. We've reached out to the FAA which regulates airlines and are waiting to hear back.

The Better Business Bureau said there is no regulation in place for prices of airline tickets during natural disasters. A tip from the BBB; consumers have found a better resolution is calling the airline directly and seeing what options are available during a disaster such as the earthquakes.