Travelocity Fined $182,750 For Booking Trips To Cuba

As a travel company, you would think Travelocity would know that there is an embargo on Cuba. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control filed a complaint against the company earlier this month, alleging that Travelocity violated the prohibition nearly 1,500 times between January 1998 and April 2004.

Travelocity says the Cuba trips were an accident.

“The trips to Cuba were unintentionally permitted to be booked by consumers online because of some technical failures several years ago and it’s just now being finally settled with OFAC,” Frey wrote in an e-mail to the Chicago Tribune. “In no way did the company intend to allow bookings for trips to Cuba and the company has fully cooperated with OFAC and implemented corrective measures.”

Whoops.

Feds Fine Travelocity.com for Cuba Trips [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo:innoxiuss)

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    Doesn’t the government have better things to worry about than people who want to go on vacation? Who exactly was harmed here, not counting the government’s bank balances?

  2. motoraway says:

    So funny, the US continues its embargo against Cuba because of the communist nature of the country, however will openly deal with China, Korea, etc. simply because of money.

  3. lestat730 says:

    Are we ever going to get rid of this damn embargo on Cuba? It’s just silly to still have it after all these years. Cuba is not a threat.

  4. Toof_75_75 says:

    The more important question is whether the people who were allowed, accidentally, to travel to Cuba brought back any cigars…Also, who TRIES to travel to Cuba by searching Travelocity?!

  5. RandomHookup says:

    @Toof_75_75:

    Perhaps a Canadian who can legally travel to Cuba?

  6. jtlight says:

    The Cuban embargo is an absolute joke. It’s a holdover from 30 years ago, and serves no purpose whatsoever.

  7. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @jtlight: Maybe its still in effect to help protect the corn sindicate? Cause if cheap Cuban sugar was available we wouldnt need HFCS anymore….. I mean I hate commies, but if we are going to say Cubans are bad and we won’t deal with them then don;t deal with China, Vietnam or N. Korea either.

  8. hc5duke says:

    @motoraway: The U.S. does not deal with North Korea – North Korea has nothing (positive) to offer the U.S., as the country has virtually no items to export. IIRC U.S. citizens are forbidden from going to NK as well.

  9. Cowboys_fan says:

    @Buran: I figure the gov’t theory is once you spend american money in cuba, they get a taste for it and want to swim to florida.
    Who’s afraid of cuba anyway, I mean really? I’m more afraid of denmark.

  10. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @hc5duke: Ahh but we do deal with them…we give them lots of food and humanitarian aid. In return they give us threats and a reason to keep our troops in S. Korea.

  11. cabedrgn says:

    @jtlight: Sure it does, there is a distinct hate for Fidel Castro and his supporters in the republican party. Usually this hate is manifested by the far-right (I know a few Republicans who don’t really care) and to top it off it would actually end up costing a lot to end the embargo and may bruise some peoples pride. You also have plenty of anti-cuban government groups (usually maintained by people who have left Cuba) that push to keep these laws in place in the general thought (though misguided) that it will push Castro out of power, eventually.

    Also, thought I don’t know possible or not it would be, we may have to give up Gitmo bay if we remove our embargo.

  12. cabedrgn says:

    Notation for my post: Yea, I can’t seem to spell, or form grammatically correct sentences until after I click post. Plus, “I know a few Republicans” should actually say “I know of a few non-far-right republicans” instead of making it sound like I get those ideas from Bob down the street.

    I need an edit button, cause I really can’t seem to get crap right. 20/20 I guess.

  13. CommenterKeen says:

    If we aren’t allowed to fly to Cuba, why the hell are their commercial flights to be booked from American airports in the first place!?

  14. mopar_man says:

    I fear China’s poisoned good more then I do Cuba’s cigars.

  15. yg17 says:

    From now on, I’m booking all vacations through Travelocity. I support any company who stands up to the paranoid, McCarthy government we still have today and books a trip to Cuba. They’ve done nothing to hurt us and they’re less hostile to us than countries I can freely travel to. The embargo makes no sense at all, and props to Travelocity for basically telling the government where to shove the embargo. And I don’t smoke, but I hear their cigars kick ass.

  16. FreakyStyley says:

    @Cowboys_fan: Good, because we Danes, along with our Scandinavian brethren, are just waiting for the right moment to relaunch the Viking empire.

  17. Nick says:

    @CommenterKeen: That’s my same question. How can you “accidentally” book a flight to Cuba? It should have to be something scheduled for this particular purpose. It’s not like Delta et al just happen to be going there, they won’t even take you there, so how can Travelocity (or anyone else, for that matter) book you on a flight that doesn’t exist?

  18. yg17 says:

    You can get to Cuba from the US on a commercial flight, you just have to stop in another country first. So Travelocity could do that. Say somewhere in the US to Canada or Mexico, then off to Cuba. Commercial flights do fly in and out of Havana just like any other airport. Just no US based airlines I believe will fly there.

    Now Travelocity and the like won’t do that for you since they’re US based. Air Canada (who has a Toronto-Havana route) won’t route me from a US airport to Cuba (I tried St. Louis-Cuba). But I can do Toronto-Cuba. So I don’t know what’s stopping me from booking STL-Toronto and then Toronto-Cuba separately.

  19. JayXJ says:

    Guess the Travel Gnome is going to have to go back to the home office and kick some ass…

  20. EtherealStrife says:

    Mexico and Jamaica are both nice options. A “friend” of mine has done it that way on several occasions *cough cough*. Just leave your passport behind (in Mexico or Jamaica), because cuba DOES stamp. It’s sad that one of the last places to carry out that awesome practice is the one place you aren’t allowed to pick up a stamp from. And don’t forget about the RFID chips, if you waited too long to renew. I wouldn’t put it past customs to plant an agent in Havana, logging all the US chipped passports that pass through there.

    Also, if you’re associated with an academic or religious institution you’re allowed to go (last time I checked). Just don’t report any purchases to customs or they’ll threaten you with Gitmo and fines in the thousands of dollars range.

  21. Onouris says:

    Hahaha.

    Free country indeed.

  22. skrom says:

    Who would want to go to Cuba anyway. Nothing there of interest. Its just street after street of row homes that should be condemned and markets with meat and vegetables laying out in the sun. Very rarely would you find any conveniences like air conditioning, and reliable transportation. They all drive American cars from the 60s. And other than other tourists everyone begs you for money because apparently nobody who lives there other than Castro’s family has more than $5.00

  23. EvilSquirrel says:

    There is no reason to visit Cuba if you consider the abundant supply of Caribbean islands just like it to the south. There are plenty of oppressive countries with a similar record of human rights violations that Washington just loves. I believe we should think to the future and visit Venezuela while we still can.

  24. formergr says:

    @EtherealStrife: I still get plenty of stamps in my passport from a lot of different countries– in fact in the Spring I had to prematurely go through passport renewal hell because I was out of additional pages to stamp in (wasn’t going to send in my passport for new pages since it would likely take 12 weeks).

  25. LibidinousSlut says:

    You can put your passport in an RFID case that blocks the signal: [www.difrwear.com] I don’t have any RFID credit cards but I’d seriously consider getting a wallet of this stuff considering how easily the cards can be hacked.

  26. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Luuuuuuuuuucy!….you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

  27. Onouris says:

    @skrom:

    So bad, infact, that if a lot of people were to be believed, their average life expectancy is higher than America’s.

  28. BenMitchell says:

    @FreakyStyley: Long Live Thor :)

  29. rioja951 - Why, oh why must I be assigned to the vehicle maintenance when my specialty is demolitions? says:

    @onouris
    They don’t need to be believed. They are in fact correct. The cuban government has THE most coverage in basic education and health services in the world.

    Hell, even Maradona has gone to cuba for the best rehab clinics in latin-america, and apparently none of the US based ones hold a candle to those.

  30. Benny Gesserit says:

    @skrom: They make do with what they have and they do not beg constantly for money – a couple of other Caribbean countries have cornered that market. Cubans are among the warmest people I’ve ever met. I’d go back there in an instant.

    And, at the risk of starting a massive flame war, I’d say many Canadians vacation in Cuba because there are fewer Americans.

  31. olegna says:

    >> And, at the risk of starting a massive flame war, I’d say many Canadians vacation in Cuba because there are fewer Americans. <<

    HAHA! Fair enough. But I have to say that I avoid the common Canadian destinations in Mexico because of the presence of Canadian travelers (Pto. Vallarta, Zihuatenejo, etc.), like, the worst at being penny-pinching cheapskates (worse than Brits!) I despise the typical American tourist, but they do tip better than anyone else, ESPECIALLY the Canadians. Ask any Mexican waiter if he’d rather serve Americans or Canadians and the tip thing will come up is he trust you enough to be honest. (The Mexican might like the Canadian better, but they’d rather serve the American tourist in many cases because Americans are generous tippers.) Plus I don’t get Canadian humor, it’s kinda corny.

    >> Cause if cheap Cuban sugar was available we wouldnt need HFCS anymore….. <<

    Wrong. Though it sounds weird: HFCS is cheaper than sugar to produce. Also, the US has protectionist policies on sugar: we have sugar import quotas. (That’s why American’s pay the highest prices for sugar.) In any case, this has nothing to do with the Cuban embargo.

    >> Also, thought I don’t know possible or not it would be, we may have to give up Gitmo bay if we remove our embargo. <<

    Wrong. We’ve had the base at Guantanamo since 1898. Listing the embargo would have no effect on whether America can continue to occupy Guantanamo.

    >> why the hell are their commercial flights to be booked from American airports in the first place!? <<

    They aren’t. They’re booking connecting flights from cities outside the US.

    >> It’s not like Delta et al just happen to be going there, they won’t even take you there, so how can Travelocity (or anyone else, for that matter) book you on a flight that doesn’t exist? <<

    For example: fly American Airlines to Mexico City, connect to a Aeromexico flight to Havana. I guess the increasingly fascist American government doesn’t like that Travelocity books Aeromexico flights to Havana.


    >> Mexico and Jamaica are both nice options. A “friend” of mine has done it that way on several occasions *cough cough*. Just leave your passport behind (in Mexico or Jamaica), because cuba DOES stamp.” <<

    That;’s really dumb advice. You can’t enter Cuba without a passport. In fact, you can’t even board a plane without a passport. When I went they stamped a sheet of paper that I kept in my passport because they know Americans don’t want that stamp on their passport.

    >> Who would want to go to Cuba anyway. Nothing there of interest. <<

    This is kinda true. Cuba is an overrated tourist destination. I wouldn’t say there’s nothing there of interest, but there are better places to visit. It’s very run-down, filled with white tourists exploiting poor Cuban girls for the sex tourism. The beaches are beautiful, but they’re beautiful anywhere in the Caribbean. Colombia is WAY better.

  32. Onouris says:

    @rioja951:

    America could be so, so, so much higher, but the insurance companies put greed over people’s health and their lives. The American health system is just a shambles. It’s seriously put me off wanting to move there lol.

    Put the English health system in America (where the worst common occurance is that you wait a bit for non essential surgery – but still get essential surgery immediately – rather than your insurance company looking for ways to get out of paying) and i’d move there tomorrow.

  33. Onouris says:

    @Onouris:

    Anyway got a bit off track there. Back to work lol.

  34. chartrule says:

    I think that its pathetic that you Americans can’t go visit countries you wish to visit without your goverment breathing down your neck threatening jail time or massive fines.

  35. Matthew says:

    Let the market decide!

  36. EtherealStrife says:

    @olegna: Yes, you can. It’s been done on more than one occasion by a trusted source. Passports are not required when departing for Cuba from Jamaica/Mexico (can’t say if the same is true for Canada). On arrival cuban customs will ask for it but as long as you have a valid ID they don’t care, and will give you a slip of paper that acts as your passport (when presented with ID) for the duration of your stay. They’re used to dealing with wary Americans, and are very accommodating. A Jamaica Air stewardess was the one who gave the leaving passports behind advice, and it turned out valid.

  37. olegna says:

    @Ether

    The way I read the post I was responding to was to leave your passport, not bring your passport and leave it with Cuban Customs as you enter Cuba.

    In any case, it’s irrelevant because they’ll give you the stamped paper without taking your passport anyway. I wouldn’t want to leave my passport with any foreign government office unless I absolutely had to, and I don’t think it’s good advice to suggest doing so. When I travel my passport rarely leaves my body unless it’s in a hotel safe.

    I can’t imagine the mess you’d be in if the Cuban Customs guy to whom you gave your passport somehow “lost” it. You’d would be royally screwed since there’s no US Mission in Havana to go to. You’d have to practically consider floating over the Tortuga Straits on an inner tube to get back home.

  38. EtherealStrife says:

    @olegna: Huh? What part of “passports are not required” isn’t processing? Giving it to a Cuban Customs agent would defeat the purpose.