The Next Vacation Hot Spot: Cuba?

Congress is working on easing the travel ban on Cuba.

ByABC News
November 18, 2008, 12:10 PM

March 11, 2009 — -- "Take this plane to Cuba!"

Does that phrase ring a bell? Those chilling words were heard again and again -- mostly in the late '60s and early '70s -- when hijacking planes to Cuba occurred with depressing regularity (and led to the installation of metal detectors at U.S. airports).

That was one way -- the criminal way -- to visit Havana. Nowadays, you can fly there by charter -- that is, if you have close relatives there; if you agree to visit only once every three years; and if you cap your spending at $50 a day. Yes, the Cold War against Cuba continues.

But wait. Congress is working on a thaw -- and has voted to ease restrictions for families. Some believe that'll eventually mean the rest of us will be able to fly into José Marti International as tourists -- maybe even later this year. Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., described the four-decades-old policy of isolating the communist nation as "such a failed policy [that] it deserves a burial."

For more air travel news and insights, visit Rick's blog at

So who's ready to fly to Cuba?

Don't look for many airlines to raise their hands just yet. U.S.-Cuba relations have been a political can of worms for so long that, even though The New York Times reports a "new generation of Cuban-American leaders has rejected hard-line positions," I think most airlines are happy to sit this one out while Congress does its thing.

Sure, Fidel has retired, yet his totalitarian regime lives on and memories are long. But times are changing, slowly but surely.

For example: When we contacted Spirit Airlines, a representative said the carrier "would be interested in evaluating Cuba as a destination" while adding that there are "no active plans to do so until the ban on travel is ended."