March 2020 – Cancelling Cuba – STAY AT HOME !!

19 Mar

Last November after returning from Cuba I booked my next HAV flight for 19th March – today.

I’d be in Havana usually February for the Habanos Festival, but after 15 years I felt I don’t need another one – so I thought March would be quieter.

After returning from Hong Kong last December, the news of the Covid-19 ( Wuhan Coronavirus back then ) started to spread increasingly rapidly.

While many disregarded the risk posed by this virus as overblown alarmist hype and said this was no worse than a “seasonal flu” I remembered the SARS outbreak when I was still active as a crew-member and found reason to worry.

This is what I posted on a cigar forum on 30th January 2020 :

“From an Aviation forum I follow – quite disturbing scenario : 

Pax infected 5 days ago – 

now infectious and is shedding virus but is currently asymptomatic – 

had left Wuhan and made way to Chengdu.

Flies on widebody from Chengdu with 240 other pax 

Arrives SFO and joins crowds in immigration hall and is in a weaving line past perhaps 500 other pax from various other aircraft hands passport to immigration then hands customs form to customs 

Wends way through SFO having collected bags and makes way through crowd to packed airline lounge.

Wends way through SFO to departure gate for next flight and joins line at gate for flight to DIA 

Flies DIA – ATL in narrow body making a few bathroom trips up and down aircraft and waiting in line for lav to be available 

Arrives ATL and joins crowds in concourse and goes to crowded airline lounge waiting for 2 hours for flight to MIA 

Flies ATL – MIA for conference leaves crowded MIA and goes by bus to hire car then to conference resort hotel for ‘meet and greet’ with 1000 conference attendees 

After 2 days in conference flies MIA – ATL – LGA same crowded concourses and goes home

Next day wakes up with what could be a cold…..

Yes you can possibly trace the flights – but how many did our notional ‘patient zero’ actually manage to pass the infection to- not only on the flights? 

How many did they manage to pass the infection to 2 days after they were infected until they realized they were sick? 

Imagine a couple of immigration border protection officers that are infective handling hundreds of passports a day and giving them back. 

This is the reason for the world being a little on edge. 

The spread of a modern equivalent to the 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ would be infinitely faster and further.

A lot depends on how infectious the disease is, some diseases need less than 10 infectious particles others require thousands.”


As Covid 19 reached Europe and it became clear that it was a global pandemic I mentally cancelled my HAV flight in late February.

After the German Foreign Office warned and then prohibited all flights, the EU closed its borders and Germany started evacuating citizens from the Caribbean I formally cancelled my booking.

I received a mail from my travel office that Condor will not refund as the flight is still scheduled to operate – even my travel office is incredulous.

And to correct a misconception : I do NOT fly for a “fraction” – I pay the FULL price for my Condor ticket. Only at Lufthansa do I get a staff discount – Condor is NOT part of LH. I pay the full price like anyone else.

While we follow the gvt’s instructions and stay at home, avoid contact etc., while Lufthansa is evacuating people from the Caribbean and worldwide, while Cuba reports infections and is ill prepared for an outbreak, I checked just now, 90 minutes before take off and that HAV flight is still operating….

Irresponsible and bottomless stupidity is what comes to my mind.

I see them screaming in 2 days to be evacuated back home again.

Anyone still flying last 10 days DESERVES to be stranded and become a Darwin Award GOLD member….



Update 23 March 2020 :

I did not fly to Havana on Thursday March 19th.

On Saturday March 21st the Cuban Gvt. announced the closure of its borders and that ALL tourists had to leave Cuba by Tuesday 24th March.
It also announced the closure of all Hotels on the island by that date.









2 Responses to “March 2020 – Cancelling Cuba – STAY AT HOME !!”

  1. joe akers 06/04/2020 at 21:50 #

    Nino, from your perspective what will the impact be to the Cuban economy because of the virus and closure to tourists? I would think it will be a severe blow since so many of the people depend on tourism.

    • Nino Munoz 07/04/2020 at 12:20 #

      it will be a terrible blow economically speaking that might have broader consequences.
      Cuba doesn’t have fuel, no cash reserves, parts of HAV only get a water truck every 3 days, long lines for food and other daily staples … this will be a “special period” 2.0.

      Sad for my Cuban friends.