In anticipation of the Cuba travel ban being fully lifted, JetBlue has added a charter service between JFK airport and Havana on their 150-seat Airbus 320. But what exactly does that mean?
“We are ready to serve all types of travel to Cuba as soon as it becomes permissible,” Dave Clark, vice president, network planning told Skift. “Today, we do it via charter, but in the future, whether it’s tourism or business, we are certainly interested in being able to serve those customers.”
JetBlue has actually been operating a charter service between Miami and Cuba since 2011, but adding another departure location is positioning them as a leader in the Caribbean travel market.
This may bring up a few questions, so here's a quick summary:
Q. Is it legal to visit Cuba now?
A. Straight up vacationing in Cuba is still a no-go. But there are twelve categories through which you can acquire a permit to visit, including family visits, official government business, professional research, support for Cuban people, humanitarian projects, private foundation or education institute activities, the export/import of information materials, public performances (like clinics, workshops, athletic competitions, exhibitions, etc.) and activities based on journalism, education or religion.
Q. How do I buy a JetBlue ticket to Cuba?
A. Passengers still need to make arrangements with JetBlue's partner, ABC Charters. Remember, it's a charter flight, not a regularly scheduled flight.
Q. So if I really want to go and I'm just a normal person, what can I do?
A. Reserve a spot on a "People-to-People" trip- these education programs fall into the 12 categories of general-license travel. The perk is that anyone can go, and the itinerary is fully planned out for you with enriching lectures and visits to artist studios and community projects. The downfall is that they are pretty costly- about $2,500 to $4,000 per week including accommodations and flights. Check out some available opportunities here from tour operators like National Geographic and Abercrombie & Kent.
What are your thoughts- would you go on a People-to-People program to finally see Cuba, or just wait until the ban is lifted?