If you’re eyeing Cuba for a warm wintertime getaway, here’s what you need to know when flying from the United States.
While it’s been a few years, Cuba is still a relatively new international destination served from the United States. The first flight to Cuba from the United States in over 50 years took off in late 2016. While general tourist travel remains banned, there is a healthy market for travelers wanting to fly to Cuba for other purposes. With this in mind, let’s take a look at US flights to Cuba!
Who can travel to Cuba?
Before you start packing your bags and making a flight reservation to the Caribbean nation, it is important to know that general tourist travel to Cuba is banned for US citizens. However, according to the US Embassy in Cuba, these are the authorized purposes for travel:
- Family visits;
- Official business of the US government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;
- Journalistic activity;
- Professional research and professional meetings;
- Educational activities;
- Religious activities;
- Public performances,
- Clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions;
- Support for the Cuban people;
- Humanitarian projects;
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes;
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials;
- and certain authorized export transactions.
Airline links to Cuba
There are several major US airports that offer direct services to Havana. These include New York JFK and Newark Liberty, as well as Houston Intercontinental, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Airlines like American, JetBlue, Southwest, and United are responsible for such services. The pandemic severed a number of air links to the island nation, and it is taking some time to restore such services.
Overall, Havana has the most air connections to the United States out of any airport from Cuba. And, rightly so. As the largest city and capital of Cuba, Havana is a major gateway for flights to the United States. Most flights on carriers from Havana are to major hubs. In addition, most flights are to destinations in Florida which has a high population of Cuban expatriates.
And it’s not just Havana that is served. Indeed, American Airlines flies to numerous other Cuban destinations.
The decline of flights to Cuba
When Cuba was first opened for flights to the United States, airlines rushed to add service. As the years progressed, Alaska Airlines, Silver Airways, and Frontier canceled services to Cuba. Additionally, American Airlines canceled their flights between Charlotte and Havana and JetBlue had cut capacity to Cuba by operating smaller aircraft.
The bottom line
Ultimately, if you’re wanting to go to Cuba from the United States (and vice versa), there are a few options available. If you live in the cities mentioned above, a direct flight should be available to the capital of Havana. If you live in Miami, then you’ll be able to access much more of the country with the help of American Airlines. But in most cases, it shouldn’t be too hard to secure a one-stop itinerary to get to Cuba.
If you’re a foreign national, you will probably find it easier to fly out of a European gateway, as quite a few airlines operate services from Europe to various destinations in Cuba.
Have you flown to Cuba from the United States? Is it something you might do this winter? Let us know in the comments!