American will offer Cuban travelers help with visas
Airline still working out details so first commercial flight to Cuba can
leave Sept. 7
It has extended a Cuba fare sale until July 11 and added cities
There hasn't been commercial air service to Cuba for more than 50 years
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
To help its new Cuba business take off, American Airlines plans to work
with an outside company to assist passengers with getting visas for
travel to the island, and it will set up a special Cuba reservations
Normally obtaining visas to countries that require them for entry by
American citizens, such as Brazil and China, is the responsibility of
But Martha Pantin, an American spokeswoman said, "With this being a new
situation, we are working with a third-party vendor that will assist
customers who have purchased flights to Cuba on American Airlines."
Once passengers are ticketed, usually about 30 days prior to departure,
they will receive a call from the American vendor who will work with
them on the visa process, she said. Journalists and those traveling to
Cuba for business will need to make their own visa applications through
the Cuban Embassy in Washington.
She said it also was "unique" for the airline to have a reservations
team dedicated to a single country.
Because embargo restrictions still remain in place, only U.S. passengers
who fall into 12 categories of travel authorized by the U.S. government
are allowed to travel from the United States to Cuba. Travel for pure
tourism isn't allowed, although there is legislation pending in Congress
to eliminate Cuba travel restrictions entirely.
American plans its inaugural flight to Cuba on Sept. 7, but is still
awaiting final approval from the Cuban government. American executives
were in Cuba last week negotiating the details, said Pantin.
Although charter companies have been flying the Cuba route for many
years, no U.S. airline has offered commercial service to Cuba in more
than 50 years. But as part of the Obama administration's engagement with
Cuba, the United States and Cuba agreed to restore commercial air
service between the two countries.
American also has extended a fare sale for its first regularly scheduled
flights to Cuba until July 11. The special fares apply for travel to
five Cuban cities from Sept. 7 through Nov. 15. All the fares require a
three-night minimum stay or a Sunday stay.
American's first flight to Cuba is scheduled to arrive in Cienfuegos on
Cuba's south coast Sept. 7. Another American flight is scheduled to land
in the Cuban city of Holguín the same day, but the Cienfuegos trip will
be the inaugural flight because it takes off earlier in the day.
American also will be flying to Camagüey, Santa Clara and Matanzas, and
has applied for Havana routes that are expected to be awarded by the
Department of Transportation later this summer. Five other U.S.
commercial airlines also have been authorized to begin regularly
scheduled service to the island.
The Cuba fare sale also has been extended to other U.S. cities where
American flies, including Boston and New York where round-trip fares
were lowered to $160, excluding taxes. Round-trip flights originating in
Miami are $198 excluding taxes ($286 with taxes included.)
American also will be offering special fares for Cuba flights
originating in Tampa, Orlando, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C,
Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and
Source: American extends a sale for Cuba trips until July 11 and
announces how it will be handling visas for travelers | In Cuba Today -