Our diplomatic relations with Cuba have been restored, but getting to the country directly from the United States is still a bit of an issue for travelers. Fortunately, major steps are being taken to allow commercial flights to Cuba from the United States.
American Airlines is among the first airline company to submit a service proposal to the US Department of Transportation. The company wants to have flights to Cuba as soon as possible and expects to provide 20 flights a day into Havana and 10 more flights daily into other Cuban cities.
Other airlines that are hoping to provide service to Cuba include Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, and United Airlines.
Cuba is particularly interested in establishing flights between Cuba and Miami, a major cultural hub for Cuban-Americans.
Under the new travel regulations, you still can’t technically travel to Cuba for purely tourist reasons. There are twelve approved categories of US visitors to Cuba. These include people who are visiting for:
- family visits
- official government business
- journalism purposes
- professional research or meetings
- educational activities
- religious reasons
- performance reasons (such as to give a concert)
- participation in clinics, workshops, or competitions
- support of humanitarian projects
- activities of private foundations
- exportation and importation of information
- and other authorized export activities
What this means in practice is that you will need to be able to provide a reason for why you’re in Cuba that falls under one of these twelve categories if and when you visit the country.
Hopefully, direct flights from the United States to Cuba will be underway within a matter of weeks. Until that time, there are a number of charter companies that offer package deals that will get you to the country and allow you to explore it as an educational tourist on a group vacation.
However you arrive in Cuba, remember that the Cuban government has a few requirements for US visitors. In addition to needing a good reason for visiting the country, you’ll also need a valid US passport with at least six months of validity beyond your travel dates. You will also need proof of current health insurance and a Cuba visa.