Flights to Cuba: What you need to know
It’s finally happening!
After more than half a century, regular commercial flights to Cuba are a reality again. This means US travelers will have more and cheaper options to get to the island. But service is limited to just a few provincial airports, flights to Havana are a few months away, none of the major travel websites offer flights to Cuba yet, and the US embargo is still in place, including the ban on regular tourism. So what does this mean for Americans wanting to visit Cuba? Let us clear up some common questions:
Which US airlines are flying to Cuba?
According to Bloomberg News, as of September 14 only three carriers — American, JetBlue and Silver Airways — are currently offering commercial flights to Cuba, and service is available to only four provincial airports outside of Havana. United Airlines won’t begin offering daily flights to the Cuban capital until November 29, but these flights are available for purchase now. Delta, Spirit, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines all plan to begin offering flights soon.
How much do flights to Cuba cost?
We’ve seen some promotional fares as low as $98 each way. This is a huge savings compared to the pricey charter flights — typically in the range of $550-$650 round-trip — that used to be the only option for flying directly to Cuba.
Where can I book flights to Cuba?
The easiest way to book your own flights to Cuba is via the airlines’ websites. So far, only one small aggregator, CheapAir.com, has begun listing the new commercial flights. None of the major travel booking websites, like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, etc. have begun listing flights to Cuba yet, though all say they plan to soon.
Has the US embargo been lifted?
No. The US embargo on trade and travel to Cuba is still in place. Lifting the embargo would take an act of Congress. The Obama administration is simply taking a much more relaxed approach to interpreting and enforcing the law. The ban on traditional “tourism” is still in place. So don’t plan to spend a week sipping mojitos on the beach or partying in the nightclubs of Havana. When booking a flight to Cuba, US citizens must check a box to attest that they qualify for a “general license” under the Treasury Department’s rules. To qualify, you must fit one of 12 specific categories of travel — such as diplomatic, humanitarian, religious, journalistic, or “people-to-people” educational exchange.
What is “people-to-people” travel?
The vast majority of US citizens visiting Cuba go on “people-to-people” educational exchanges, like the trips organized by Cross Cultural Journeys and other operators. This means that you have a full-time schedule of activities that bring you into daily contact with Cuban people, so that you can get to know and understand their rich history and culture and understand the fascinating political and economic changes afoot there. Cross Cultural Journeys has been customizing people-to-people itineraries to Cuba for 18 years. Our experiences include meeting with Cuban architects and historians, artists, musicians, farmers, doctors, clerics, entrepreneurs, and visiting everyday Cubans in their homes. These detailed and interactive programs have allowed Americans to see and experience the real Cuba since 1998.
History is unfolding in Cuba before our eyes. If you’ve ever thought about going, the time is now. Please let us show you the real Cuba before it changes forever.