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Travelocity fined for booking trips to Cuba

Travel Web site pays first online-related fine for violating embargo with Cuba.

Online travel site Travelocity has been fined for violating the United States embargo with Cuba and booking flights between the two countries.

Southlake, Texas-based Travelocity paid $182,750 in fines to settle a complaint by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. The complaint alleged that between January 1998 and April 2004, there were more than 1,400 occasions when the Web site arranged travel to or from Cuba.

It is believed to be the first time an online travel site has been fined for violating the 1963 embargo, according to The Miami Herald.

"The trips to Cuba...were unintentionally booked online because of a technical issue several years ago and it's just now being settled," a Travelocity spokeswoman told the newspaper.

I tested the site out to see if I could get a flight from San Francisco to Cuba. The system offered me a choice between two airports in Cuba: Havana and Varadero. I selected "Havana" and an error message was displayed saying the system could not find any flights meeting my criteria. No mention that Cuba is off limits, period.

In a separate action, American Express Travel services paid about $16,600 in fines for selling group travel packages to Cuba in 2003, the Treasury Department said (PDF).

Travelocity offers up to two Cuban airports to choose from. Travelocity
Travelocity provides an error message when a Cuban airport is selected. Travelocity