Alaska (NYSE:ALK) plans to begin the flights from Los Angeles International (LAX) to Havana’s José Martí International Airport (HAV) on Jan. 5, 2017. While the flights were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in August, they remain subject to approval by the Cuban aviation authorities.
“This is a historic year for U.S. travelers, who can now fly to Cuba from the U.S. on scheduled commercial service for the first time in more than 50 years,” Andrew Harrison, Alaska’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
In addition to being among the first regularly scheduled commercial flights from the U.S. to the island country in more than half a century, they will be the only nonstop flights to Cuba from the West Coast.
|Alaska 737 departs SEA|
Alaska will use a Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737-900 on the route, carrying 16 First Class passengers and 165 economy passengers. According to SeatGuru.com, First Class seats are 21 inches wide with 36 inches of pitch while economy seats are 17 inches wide with 32 inches of pitch.
At the time of publication, round trip economy fares for flights in February could be obtained for less than $500 while First Class fares were slightly more than double that amount. Fares are, of course, subject to change for a variety of reasons. Current information may be obtained at www.alaskaair.com.
Advance planning required
Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. There are, however, 12 categories of travel authorized by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). That means individuals who meet the regulatory conditions of the respective “general license” they seek to travel under do not need to apply for a specific license from OFAC to travel to Cuba.
The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are:
- Family visits
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research and professional meetings
- Educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and
- Certain authorized export transactions
To aid customers interested in visiting Cuba, Alaska has partnered with Cuba Travel Services, a travel company serving the destination with more than 17 years of experience. The airline encourages its passenger contact Cuba Travel Services for assistance securing travel visas, hotel lodging, and ground transportation and creating itineraries, among other things.
Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.
Photo by Carl Dombek
Click on photo to view larger image