Wednesday, August 31, marked the first time in more than 50 years that regularly scheduled airline service returned between the U.S. and Cuba. While demand among travelers has been expected to be incredibly high—the doors to one of our closest neighbors are open at long last—flight prices to Cuba are phenomenally low this fall. In fact, Cuba may be the cheapest place in the Caribbean an American traveler can fly in the weeks ahead.
Today JetBlue launched the inaugural flight, between Fort Lauderdale and Santa Clara–Abel Santamaría airport (about three hours east of Havana). Other carriers will soon follow with flights of their own to Cuba, including Silver Airways service starting on September 1, and American Airlines routes kicking off on September 7.
Before now, the only way to fly between U.S. and Cuba was via special charter flights. And these charter services were quite pricey—often $700, $800, or more for relatively short journeys. About a year after travel restrictions to Cuba opened up with an announcement from the Obama administration in 2015, domestic airlines rushed to apply for the right to launch regularly scheduled flights to the island nation.
Airfare prices to Cuba were expected to decrease significantly with the arrival of regularly scheduled commercial flights, and early promotional deals didn't disappoint. JetBlue introduced flights for $99 each way and American Airlines promoted round trip prices of $198 from Miami ($286 after taxes) earlier this summer when they announced dates for the first trips to Cuba.
What comes as a surprise is that many of these amazing low-price deals to Cuba can still be booked right now for travel this fall. On Wednesday, we scoped out some departures from Fort Lauderdale to Cuba on JetBlue, and found that most flights in September were available for $129 to $159 each way. For several departures in October, there were flights available a total of $205 round trip, with all taxes and fees included. That's basically the same special promotional price JetBlue introduced when announcing service weeks ago.
Meanwhile, American Airlines quietly has plenty of low-cost flights to Cuba available this autumn as well. We found round trips between Miami and Cienfuegos, Cuba, for as little as $229 in October. Adding a connecting flight from New York bumped up the fare by only about $100 (from $328 round trip, with a stopover in Miami).
Before booking a trip, take note that Cuba, like all of the Caribbean, experiences hurricane season from late summer to late fall. Understandably, crowds at beach resorts are minimal and flights to the region are generally cheap during this period, due to the risk of bad weather. (Consider buying travel insurance for peace of mind.)
What's more, while restrictions on American travelers have loosened up, visiting Cuba is still a little complicated. Traveling to Cuba for purely touristic purposes is technically not allowed. Instead, Americans must apply for visas and cite one of 12 possible other reasons to travel to Cuba, such as visiting family, humanitarian projects, journalism, educational activities, or professional research. American, JetBlue, and other airlines with service to Cuba spell out what's required for American travelers to get tourist visas, and often can help arrange for them to be issued for about $50 per passenger.