|JetBlue Airways announced the addition of flights to three Caribbean destinations in just two days|
In less than 48 hours, JetBlue Airways announced new flights from Boston to Barbados; from New York to Antigua and Barbuda; and, perhaps the most intriguing of the three, flights from New York to the once-forbidden island of Cuba.
Travel Agent breaks down the details of all three routes.
JetBlue to Be First U.S. Carrier to Cuba Since Travel Restrictions Were Eased
The Los Angeles Times and other media outlets reported that JetBlue Airways announced Tuesday it will begin offering a flight between New York and Cuba.
This makes JetBlue the first major U.S. carrier to offer a flight to Cuba since travel restrictions were recently eased.
According to the report, the weekly nonstop will travel on Fridays between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Havana's Jose Marti International Airport starting in July.
Flights Can Be Booked Via Cuba Travel Services, Not GDS
|A screenshot we obtained from a travel agent searching for flight availability via GDS (Worldspan)|
Now, Travel Agent should note that although travel restrictions have been eased, they have not been completely lifted for U.S. travelers.
"It's still a chartered flight in my opinion," says Ryan Mielke of Regency Travel in Fort Lauderdale. "I think this is a very, very small step. Only because I could go to Fort Lauderdale or Miami airport right now and find hundreds of flights to Cuba that is the same as this JetBlue one."
And as of now, if you look up the newly-announced JetBlue flight on GDS, it will tell you that flights are restricted from the U.S.
"Until airlines start publishing flights in our GDS systems, it's all false promises of a long-going struggle to open up Cuba," says Mielke.
But other agents, like Andrey Zakharenko of Always Travel in San Francisco, CA., are celebrating the news.
“JetBlue announcing the start of non-stop flights to Cuba from New York, a major gateway city, is great news,” says Zakharenko. “No more flying to Canada or Mexico to reach the forbidden island. Now, most people in the U.S. will be able to easily reach the country with one stop or less. Hopefully this will lead to agents in the United States being able to offer their clients flights to Cuba though their GDS, something that we are not able to do at the moment.”
Although the flights currently can be booked through GDS, Travel Agent learned that the flight is being offered by Cuba Travel Services, and travelers should make arrangements directly with the carrier service provider at www.cubatravelservices.com.
JetBlue to Launch to Direct Flights to Antigua From New York City This November
Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, Asot A. Michael, said that airlift into Antigua and Barbuda from its critical North East corridor of the U.S. will be augmented by the arrival of JetBlue Airways for the upcoming winter season.
The arrival of JetBlue, he announced, will open up the destination to even more business, increase the competitiveness of the destination within the U.S. travel market and encourage more air travel.
He made the remarks at a press conference held last week at the V.C Bird International Airport. It was attended by Antigua and Barbuda government officials, senior executives of JetBlue Airways, Antigua and Barbuda airline executives and Antigua and Barbuda tourism officials.
JetBlue Airways will begin direct service to Antigua from its base in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on November 5.
The JetBlue Airbus A320, which carries 150 seats, will be available to travelers to Antigua on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Seasonal Boston-Barbados Service to Commence This November
In June of last year, Richard Sealy, Barbados’ minister of tourism and international transport, told Travel Agent the island was close to securing new Delta and JetBlue Airways flights. A few weeks later, the Delta flights from Atlanta and New York to Barbados came to fruition.
So, Travel Agent knew it was only a matter of time before the JetBlue flights from Boston also became reality. On Tuesday, they did.
JetBlue Airways has announced its continued expansion in the region with seasonal weekly service from Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) to Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI), which will launch November 7.
“Boston is one of the most affluent cities on the eastern seaboard of the United States and it presents an opportunity to diversify Barbados’ tourism business beyond the current U.S. gateways," said Sealy in a written release. "We look forward to continued strong cooperative marketing efforts with our partners at JetBlue to ensure the success of this new service”.
The weekly Boston-Barbados flight will complement JetBlue’s existing daily service from New York, which was launched in 2009. The flight sale is scheduled to commence on May 1, subject to receipt of government operating authority, with an introductory fare of only $149 one way for travel from November 7 until April 30, 2016.
JetBlue Getaways will offer customers heading to Barbados the opportunity to bundle flights and hotels, as well as with their car rentals and other amenities and activities. Four-day, three-night packages will start at $345 per person at Courtyard by Marriott.
Visit www.jetblue.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest Caribbean news. Follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike.