American and United battle over flights to Cuba

Posted: 10-Oct-16 13:10

The announcement earlier this year that American airlines would once again be flying into Cuba triggered a rush to secure the first routes. At the moment, only a small number of daily flights from the US to Cuba have been approved, but airlines are already scrambling to capitalize on the desire to American tourists to see the island. Recently American Airlines announced that it will push up the date of its inaugural flight by one day, giving it a 24-hour edge over United Airlines.

American and United battle over flights to Cuba

In the ongoing race to offer the first US-based flights to Cuba, American Airlines has pushed up its inaugural flight to Cuba to November 28, a move which gives American a one-day lead over United Airlines. There has been no official statement or press release regarding the scheduling change, but, according to the blog Point Me to The Plane, the November 28 flight is already available for booking on aa.com, with one-way tickets starting at $177.American was awarded four daily Miami-based flights to Cuba and one from Charlotte.

As part of the normalization of US-Cuban relations, commercial flights between the two countries were approved earlier this year. JetBlue became the first American airline to touch down in Cuba in more than fifty years in August, when it launched daily flights from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara.

Five other airlines received approval from the Department of Transport to offer flights to multiple destinations in Cuba---American, Frontier, Southwest, Silver, and SunCountry. Eight additional airlines, including Delta, Spirit, United, and Alaska, have been approved to fly into Havana. Most of the approved airlines will begin offering service to Cuba between late November and December, with Alaska Airlines having opted to wait until January.

The move is a welcome change for American tourists eager to visit Cuba, which has been off-limits since the 1959 Revolution. In recent years, people-to-people tours from the US to Cuba have grown in popularity, but such tours are often prohibitively expensive and come with numerous restrictions. Charter flights between the US and Cuba have been available for some time, but are costlier than commercial flights and offer fewer protections in the event of a cancellation or delay.

Officially, Americans are still prohibited from traveling to Cuba solely for tourism. Travel between the two countries is permitted only under twelve approved categories, such as educational purposes or journalistic activities, although as relations improve, it seems few people pay attention to those requirements. Americans are also required to have the necessary travel insurance before entry into Cuba.
In the coming months, additional flights are expected to be offered from other US cities, a move which is certain to bring even more American visitors to Cuba.


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