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Travelocity fined for booking trips to Cuba

Online travel company pays nearly $200K; trips occurred from 1998 to 2004

By Linda Rosencrance
August 17, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Online travel company Travelocity.com has paid $182,750 to the U.S. Treasury for allegedly booking trips from the U.S. to Cuba over a five-year period against federal regulations.

Southlake, Texas-based Travelocity, which is owned by Sabre Holdings Corp., paid the fine earlier this month to settle claims that it violated the Cuban Assets Control Regulations," according to a statement from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The agency said Travelocity arranged services, including air travel and hotel reservations, for trips to Cuba on 1,458 occasions between January 1998 and April 2004, without a license from the agency.

Although Travelocity did not voluntarily bring the matter to the agency's attention, it cooperated with the agency's investigation and implemented procedures to prevent consumers from booking trips to Cuba from the U.S. in the future, the statement said.

Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said the agency could not provide any further information beyond what was in the statement.

Travelocity spokesman Joel Frey said the trips were booked online by consumers and were unintentionally approved by Travelocity because of technical failures. While the activity occurred several years ago, it is finally being settled with the government.

"This is a very old matter," Frey wrote in an e-mail to Computerworld. "Most of the trips were purchased between six and seven years ago. 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."

Certain groups may apply for licenses to travel to Cuba, including journalists, government employees on official business, academic researchers, people who want to visit members of their immediate families, as well as religious and humanitarian organizations, according to the OFAC.

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