If you have always had dreams of scoring a cheap ticket to romp on Cuba’s unspoiled beaches without having to switch flights in Central America, you are now one step closer.
Several U.S. carriers will offer flights to Cuba through charter companies by the end of 2011, as a result of loosened travel restrictions for students, and religious and cultural groups.
The charter companies expect Americans to take advantage – estimating that 400,000 will visit the communist island nation this year, compared with 250,000 last year.
Citizens must apply for a special license through the U.S. Department of Treasury in order to be eligible for a charter flight, and there are different levels of eligibility. Learn more on the Treasury Department’s Cuba page.
Where to Depart
Currently, there are a limited number of airports in the U.S. that offer direct flights to Cuba. For many years, Miami, New York and Los Angeles were the only places passengers could fly to the island stateside. But following President Barack Obama’s January decision to allow more travel to Cuba, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorized additional airports including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa and San Juan.
The cost to fly to Cuba varies by company, but expect to pay anywhere from $385 to $600 for a roundtrip ticket, and more around the busy holiday season.
Which Airlines Are Flying to Cuba?
The announcement that more U.S. carriers would host flights to Cuba came in late October, so stay tuned for more stateside departure points in the future. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of U.S. carriers being chartered to fly to Cuba.
Flying for: ABC Charters
From: Miami, Tampa and San Juan
To: Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago
Frequency: Seven flights weekly from Miami to Havana, one from Tampa; One flight weekly from Miami to Cienfuegos; one flight weekly from San Juan to Santiago
Flying for: Airline Brokers Co. and Marazul Charters Inc.
From: Fort Lauderdale
Frequency: One flight a week
Flying for: Cuba Travel Services Inc.
From: Los Angeles with possible flights from Houston and Oakland, Calif., in the future
Frequency: Twice weekly from Los Angeles
Flying for: Airline Brokers Co.
To: Havana and Cienfuegos
Frequency: Twice weekly to Havana; once a week to Cienfuegos