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US DOT Selects Airlines for Routes to Cuba this Fall

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Photo: Old Havana (Havana Vieja), © Thrifty Traveler

The US Department of Transportation announced this morning that six airlines have received approval to fly to Cuba as soon as this fall. This does not yet include routes to Havana, which will be announced later this summer.

The United States and Cuban government signed an agreement, in February, to resume commercial flights, the first in 50 years. That agreement set in motion a bidding process for US Airlines to start operating up to 110 flights a day this fall. The agreement allows 20 daily flights to Havana and 90 flights to other Cuban cities. The approval today is only for the 90 flights to cities other than Havana.


Approved Airlines:
  • American Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Silver Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines


US Departure Cities: 
  • Miami
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul


Cuban Destinations:
  • Camagüey
  • Cayo Coco
  • Cayo Largo
  • Cienfuegos
  • Holguín
  • Manzanillo
  • Matanzas
  • Santa Clara
  • Santiago de Cuba


It’s important to note that Americans still can’t visit Cuba legally without falling under one of the 12 categories of allowed travel. I traveled under the “journalism” justification and had no issues, even when questioned at US Customs in Minneapolis. I have not heard of a single report of someone being detained for not falling under the 12 categories. It seems US Customs is not enforcing the travel restrictions since relations have now improved with the Cuban government. As long as you somehow justify your trip you should be good to go. It sounds like this fall you will simply check which category you qualify under online when you book your flight.


Bottom Line 

Travel to Cuba is soon going to be as easy as booking a flight through your favorite US airline. It will be interesting to see what impact the influx of new travelers will have on the Cuban economy. When I was there in April ’15, the infrastructure in Cuba still needed a lot of work. There are very few nice hotels in Cuba, so I think it will still be quite a while before your average American tourist would want to travel to Havana. It’s not your typical Caribbean vacation that’s for sure. Just finding WiFi was a challenge! Phone service was not even an option. Make sure to read our American Travel Guide to Cuba to start planning your trip!


Cuba Articles You Should Read Next:

American Travel Guide to Cuba

Tips for Booking Airbnb in Cuba

Starwood signs first Cuba Hotel deal since 1959 Revolution


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