Southwest approved to fly to Cuba

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Southwest airplane
Photo courtesy of Instagram/Southwest

Today, Southwest announced that they were approved by the DOT to fly to Cuba!  Southwest is my favorite airline, and I love it when they expand to new destinations…especially when those locations are international.

When will Southwest will start flying to Cuba?

The exact dates haven’t been announced, but Southwest says that they will start flying to Cuba from Florida later this year.

One of Southwest’s primary competitors, JetBlue had their first flight to Cuba today, so you know that Southwest wants to make this happen immediately.  They never like it when a competitor is so far ahead.  Earlier this year, Southwest even took a few spots at Long Beach Airport in Southern California to compete head-to-head at an airport that was basically owned by JetBlue.

From which cities will Southwest fly to Cuba?

The majority of the flights to Cuba will be from Ft Lauderdale (near Miami, Florida).  From FLL, Southwest will fly to these 3 Cuban airports:

  • Havana (HAV) – 2 daily nonstops
  • Varadero (VRA) – 2 daily nonstops
  • Santa Clara (SNU) – 1 daily nonstop

Southwest will also operate 1 flight per day from Tampa Bay to Havana.

For those of us who endure Southwest’s lack of non-stops, we will all be happy to know that all flights to Cuba from Ft Lauderdale and Tampa Bay will be non-stop!

Southwest Cuba service map August 2016
Source: Southwest.com

Unfortunately, just like when Southwest first launched flights to Puerto Rico and Aruba, if you aren’t based in the two cities that Southwest is flying from, you will need to book a separate ticket to get to either Tampa Bay or Ft Lauderdale to fly to Cuba.

That sucks, but it does provide an opportunity to use other miles and points to position yourself to these two cities and possibly stay the night on a stopover to explore Florida a little bit on the way to Cuba.

How much will Southwest flights to Cuba cost?

Pricing for flights on Southwest to Cuba have not been released.  The best bet is to start earning Rapid Rewards points now to pay for your flights once the schedule is released.  With a revenue-based system like Southwest, I’d always rather use points instead of spending cash.  Especially after my analysis asking whether spending for A-List is worth it.

If you want to earn a bunch of Southwest points, you have 5 great options:

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The Bottom Line

Southwest may be a little late to the game with their approval to fly to Cuba, but they’re going to make a big splash with 6 daily non-stops between Florida and Cuba.  When Southwest continues to expand their footprint, it makes the Southwest Companion Pass that much more valuable.  I am definitely looking forward to taking Anna to Cuba for a nice cigar and mojito!

 

Featured image courtesy of Instagram/Southwest


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