Alaska Airlines begins selling tickets to Havana

Seattle-headquartered Alaska Airlines has begun selling tickets for daily flights that will connect Los Angeles with Havana, Cuba starting in early 2017.

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 Airlines Boeing 737 departs SEA Seattle Washington
Alaska 737 departs SEA
Flights will leave LAX at 8:50 a.m., arriving at HAV at 4:55 p.m. Return flights will leave HAV at 5:55 p.m., arriving in Los Angeles at 8:45 p.m. The schedule will allow passengers flying from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Anchorage, Alaska’s Ted Stevens Memorial Airport (ANC) to make convenient connections to the new route, according to the airline.

Alaska will use a Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737-900 on the route, carrying 16 First Class passengers and 165 economy passengers. According to, 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

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
For more information, visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

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.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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