Kayak Becomes First Major U.S. Travel Site To List Cuba Destinations

Kayak began listing limited flights and hotel details on its travel website on Thursday, becoming the first major online service to do so. But travelers looking to book flights and hotels through the Kayak.com website will have to wait until lawmakers and the travel industry finalize the details.

Newsweek reported that people interested in travel to Cuba can use Kayak to view information on 300 hotels. Kayak currently lists limited flights operated by charter companies with special permission to operate in Cuba. Kayak users would have to book through these companies directly because normal commercial flights do not operate out of the U.S. to destinations within Cuba at present.

“Cuba travel information is now on Kayak, and specifically, Kayak users can search for both flight and hotel information,” Kayak Chief Marketing Officer Robert Birge told Newsweek.

Because Kayak user demand has grown tremendously since the government’s announcement of eased travel restrictions on January 15, the decision to include Cuba in Kayak search results was only natural.

“We’ve gotten quite a few requests,” Birge said.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro took steps toward normalized relations between the two countries in December. This has opened up the floodgates of demand for businessmen and tourists who book with online services like Kayak. The Inquisitr reported that credit card companies like American Express are eager to expand into Cuba because of the increased demand. But tourism is unlikely to flourish there until American visitors are able to use their credit cards as they would anywhere else in the world.

While Kayak users will have to wait to actually book tickets to Cuba, United Airlines announced that they plan on offering regular service to Cuba from Newark and Houston, according to the New York Times. Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and American Airlines also said they would add flight service to Cuba as soon as the laws change.

“This is basically the end of the travel ban, once they work out the kinks,” said Cuba scholar Julia E. Sweig.

Flights currently listed on Kayak are routed through third countries. A round trip itinerary for a May 1 departure out of Los Angeles on Copa Airlines to Havana with a return on May 8 shows a price of $1,202 per person on Kayak. A similar Kayak itinerary out of JFK on Aeromexico would be less expensive at $864 per person. The Kayak hotels range from budget to luxury class.

Would you travel to Cuba with Kayak once regular flights are available? Let us know in the comments.

[Image by Matt JP/Flickr]