Saturday, June 25, 2016

American Airlines offers discounted inaugural fares to Cuba

American Airlines offers discounted inaugural fares to Cuba

American plans to offer regularly scheduled flights to Cuba beginning
Sept. 7
AA still awaiting final approval from Cuba, but is taking reservations
A Congressional delegation that wants to investigate airport security in
Cuba says it was denied visas

American Airlines is now taking reservations and selling regularly
scheduled flights between Miami International Airport and five Cuban
cities to start in September for less than $300 round-trip, including taxes.

But the cheaper rates come with caveats, including final approval from
the Cuban government for American's new commercial flights to the
island. If all goes as planned, regularly scheduled flights to
Cienfuegos and Holguín will take off from MIA on Sept. 7.

There is also a minimum stay requirement of three nights or over a
Sunday, and travel must be booked by Tuesday to take advantage of the
sale. The discounts apply to travel between Sept. 7 and Nov. 15. Flights
after those dates may run several hundred dollars more.

The restricted round-trip economy fare from MIA to Cienfuegos is
$285.16. It will serve as American's inaugural commercial flight to Cuba
because it takes off before the Holguín flight. American flights to
Santa Clara, Matanzas and Camagüey will be phased in at various times
during September and are listed at $286.

Customers can book the new Cuba flights just the way they would any
regularly scheduled flight, but travelers are asked to confirm that they
fall into one of 12 categories approved for Cuba travel by the U.S.
government, for example humanitarian, family and people-to-people visits
designed to encourage meaningful exchanges with the Cuban people.

Other types of travel, like beach vacations, are out.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also has granted permission for
Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines
and Sun Country Airlines to fly from various U.S. cities to Cuban
destinations. DOT said it plans to award competitive Havana routes later
this summer. In the meantime, charter companies are flying to Havana and
other Cuban cities.

But members of a U.S. Congressional delegation don't expect to be flying
to Cuba any time soon.

Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who heads the Homeland Security
Committee, said Friday that the Cuban government didn't approve visas
for him or other delegation members to visit and assess security and
passenger screening at airports that will soon receive regularly
scheduled flights from the United States.

McCaul and other committee members said they wanted to see the Cuban
airports first-hand because "ISIS and other terror groups continue to
target the aviation sector."

"At a time when the Obama administration is rolling out the red carpet
for Havana, the Cuban government refuses to be open and transparent with
the peoples' representatives," said McCaul. "Sadly, it appears to be
easier for Cubans to come to the United States than for members of the
House Homeland Security Committee to get to Cuba."

"The administration is eager to have as many people as possible visit
Cuba — except for those who are attempting to examine Cuban security
infrastructure," said Rep. John Katko, a Republican from New York. "We
still don't know if Cuba has the adequate body scanners and explosive
detection systems in place, whether it has the technology to screen for
fraudulent passports or ID, whether or how aviation workers are
screened." The committee, he said, also wanted to know if federal air
marshals will be allowed to fly to Cuba on commercial flights.

The delegation had been trying to get visas for more than six weeks,
Katko said.

Source: American Airlines offers discounted fares on its first
commercial flights to Cuba | In Cuba Today -

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