Last updated: 11:08 AM ET, Wed April 15 2015

CheapAir Launching First Direct Flights Between US and Cuba

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | April 15, 2015

CheapAir Launching First Direct Flights Between US and Cuba

Photo by David Cogswell is launching direct flights from the U.S. to Cuba this week, becoming the first travel agency to offer such service in the wake of the Obama administration's recent reform of restrictions on travel to the Caribbean island.

According to a blog post on the agency's website, it will offer authorized travelers flights from New York and Tampa to the Cuban capital of Havana and from Miami to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, Camaguey, Cienfuegos and Holguin. began offering service to Cuba in late February, however the agency originally had to book travel via a third country.

"Once we starting doing that, we were approached by Cuba Travel Services, which has done charters to Cuba for many years" said CEO Jeff Klee via Benet Wilson of USA Today. "We were intrigued with the idea of integrating their inventory."

Now, direct flights between Miami and Cuban cities will operate on a daily basis.

Flights between New York and Havana will fly once a week on Tuesdays, while flights between Tampa and Havana will be offered twice a week on Sundays and Thursdays. 

Although the new service allows travelers to conveniently book their flight online and travelers no longer need a special license in order to visit Cuba, qualified passengers must still acquire a general license from the U.S. government.

"It's still not legal for just anyone to fly to Cuba, so we have to have those booking flights check one of the 12 categories for travelers," said Klee via Wilson. "Other than that, it's no different from booking a flight to Las Vegas."

The dozen categories include family visits, journalistic activity and humanitarian projects, among others. 

Highlighting the growing interest in Cuba, Klee believes that "within a year, anyone will be able to book a flight to Cuba as easy as anywhere else."

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