JetBlue announced that beginning July 3, it will be operating nonstop direct flights to Cuba out of New York's JFK airport, chartered by Cuba Travel Services. The flights are a result of easing travel restrictions between the US and Cuba. The JetBlue flights will be offered weekly, at noon each Friday, landing at 3:30 PM in Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. A return flight each Friday departs Havana at 4:30 PM and arrives in New York at 8 PM.
JetBlue is not the only way to fly direct to Cuba. In April, Cheapair.com became the first online travel agency to offer nonstop flights between the United States and Cuba. Those authorized to travel to Cuba can now book nonstop flights from Tampa or New York to Havana and Miami to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, Camaguey, Cienfuegos and Holguin.
Before direct flights were an option, the only way for American travelers to get to Cuba was by way an out-of-the-way, expensive trip with a layover in a third country such as Canada, Mexico, or various Caribbean and Central American destinations. Those indirect options resulted in huge price tags. According to Hopper, a big-data travel research firm, the best US-origin indirect option via Cancun comes in at a total of just over $700 round trip.
Now, with the options for direct fights increasing, Hopper chief data scientist Patrick Surrey and his team predict that prices will start decreasing. Direct round trip flights from Miami to Havana, restricted to licensed travelers only, are currently priced from $500-plus round trip, though data is sparse. Although the U.S. Congress is unlikely to lift the travel embargo in the near future, they predict that doing so would cut the typical cost of visiting Cuba almost in half, to about $375 round trip, based on current prices to nearby destinations.
Flights aren't the only new option when it comes to traveling to Cuba. The Obama administration announced Wednesday that for the first time in 50 years, the U.S. will allow ferry service operations between Florida and Cuba. Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, Baja Ferries of Miami, United Caribbean Lines Florida of Greater Orlando and Airline Brokers of Miami and Fort Lauderdale were notified on Tuesday of approvals by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments to begin services. The ferry companies plan to allow free luggage and trips less expensive than charter flights.