Somebody had to be first. And when it comes to the relaunch of scheduled flights between the U.S. and Cuba, following the normalization of relations between the two countries after more than 50 years, it appears that JetBlue is set to snag those bragging rights.
According to the airline’s news release, “It’s a new day for Cuba travelers and one we have thoughtfully prepared for. We are proud to usher in a new era of Cuba travel with affordable fares and great service.”
JetBlue’s first Cuba flights will launch on August 31, between Ft. Lauderdale and Santa Clara, Cuba. The service will initially run three times weekly, increasing to daily on October 1. Then, on November 3, JetBlue will start daily service between Ft. Lauderdale and Camaguey, followed by the launch of daily flights to Holguin, on November 10. Flights to Havana from Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and New York will start up in the fall.
Fares begin at $99 each way, and include health insurance required by the Cuban government.
As a relic of the long period of strained relations between Cuba and the U.S., travelers to Cuba are still required to confirm that their reasons for visiting the country fall into one of 12 categories approved by the U.S. government. Smartly, JetBlue has built a form into the booking process that allows customers to complete the required paperwork online.
Also specific to the new Cuba flights, JetBlue will waive the checked-bag fees for the first bag. (There’s normally a fee of $20 or $25 for the first checked bag when flying on Blue-fare tickets.)
Reader Reality Check
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.