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Airlines Will Offer $60 Flights From Fort Lauderdale to Havana Next Month

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In the past 12 months, traveling to Cuba has gone from an act of near treason to a dirt-cheap weekend getaway. The first modern commercial jet from the U.S. to Cuba took off mere months ago, August 31. Now, beginning next month, you'll be able to just straight-up fly to the communist nation's capital for the price of a steak dinner, provided both governments sign off on your trip.

At least two airlines — JetBlue and Southwest — have announced they will offer sub-$60, one-way flights from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Havana this year.

November 30, JetBlue will begin offering $54 one-way flights from FLL to Havana twice a day Sunday through Friday and once a day Saturday, the company announced today. (JetBlue also owned the airliner that made the inaugural flight to Cuba last August and will offer flights from New York City and Orlando too.)

Likewise, Southwest said last Thursday it will also begin offering $59 one-way flights to Havana Monday, December 12. 

There are, of course, a few huge caveats: For one, traveling to Cuba requires paying an extra $50 for a visa unless you're a Cuban national living in the States.
More important: You can't just go to Havana to get hammered on Cuban rum and do cartwheels in the street. To get a visa, you'll need to list one of 12 reasons for traveling to the island. You can snag a visa if you're a Cuban national, a journalist, on an educational trip, visiting family, or on a religious or humanitarian trip, among other criteria. 

Likewise, both airlines will require passengers to buy tickets at least 14 days in advance, and the Cuban government requires every visitor to buy Castro-approved health insurance before visiting the island. Both airlines automatically handle this for you but include a $25 surcharge for the insurance. (Oh, and don't throw out your boarding pass — it will serve as your proof of insurance on the island.)

You also can't just defect to Cuba: Though you can buy a one-way ticket, you'll have to provide proof that you're either heading back to the U.S. in some other form or that you're traveling onward to another country afterward. You also can't bring oversize bags, overweight bags, or more than two checked bags to the island yet. Also, the airlines suggest arriving at FLL at least three full hours before your plane departs.

With all of those additional fees, it might actually end up being cheaper just to fly one of those new Iceland-to-Miami discount routes instead. (Though, for Cuban nationals with family on the island, the new flights are a godsend.)

Oh, and one more big thing to remember: Most U.S. credit and debit cards don't work in Cuba, so you'll have to take enough cash to cover your entire stay. Enjoy your very, very specific trips to Havana, everybody.

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