Chelsea IrizarrySep 8, 2017, 7:37 pmSep 11, 2017, 9:04 am

LI mother details frustrations in getting son out of Florida before Hurricane Irma’s arrival

Marjorie Hoffman recounts her difficulty in a booking flight for her child


As mandatory evacuations take effect in Florida and Hurricane Irma nears, many are trying to hop on flights to leave the state. After spending hours searching for available flights and getting sticker shock from all the pricey tickets, one Long Island family is now sharing their experience in the hopes of helping others.

"When they started talking about the dimension of it, that it was going to be wider than the entire state of Florida, that's when I said oh, this is, you know, this is more serious that I thought," said Great Neck resident Marjorie Hoffman. That's when she got to work, spending four hours trying to get her son, Ben, who attends the University of Miami, out of Hurricane Irma’s path, which forecasters say is the most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic coast in more than a decade

"I would find him a flight, I would put my credit card, the flight would disappear. And flights were anywhere from $300 to over $1,000, and since he knows people everywhere we we're looking to go to anyone of five cities, and I could not get him a flight," Hoffman said.

She finally got in touch with a ticket agent who helped in finding a flight home for Ben, but it would end up being a 13-hour travel day for him.

"She said ‘Mrs. Hoffman, would your son be willing to go to Orlando? I can tell you that South Florida is just booked’ and I said if that's what's going to take to get him home, then yes, he'll go to Orlando. So we got him a flight from Orlando to Washington D.C. which is where his brother lives," Hoffman said.

Her cousin Sue Pearlman, a resident of Boynton Beach, Florida for over 20 years, was also evacuated and faced the same issue.

"Finally, I just kept searching and finally found flights for over $1,000, I got on the telephone and said this is not acceptable," Pearlman said.

Hoffman and Pearlman say after hours on the phone, they finally found flights for under $1,000, and are thankful to the ticket agents, but feel airlines gouged the prices, when all they were trying to do, is get out of Hurricane Irma’s projected track.

"You know, we weren't trying to take vacations at the last minute, we were trying to get our family and loved ones to safety," Hoffman said. She added that the feeling is indescribable when a loved one is finally safe and she hopes that by sharing her experience it'll help others in the future.

"The key is patience, get on the phone and talk to an actual representative, have options available if you can," Hoffman said.

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