Texan Senator Ted Cruz fled his family to Mexico on Wednesday as the state addressed the debilitating effects of an unprecedented winter storm.
Reports of United Airlines’ Houston to Cancun trip went viral Thursday, earning Cruz non-stop contempt from Democratic lawmakers and other critics, including United flight attendants stuck in Houston without power. Cruz confirmed the trip in a statement, saying it was a last minute trip with his daughters.
“Since school was canceled for this week, our girls asked for a trip with friends. Since I wanted to be a good father, I flew with them last night and I’m flying back this afternoon,” said Cruz.
It’s not the first time the senator has gone viral for his travels during the pandemic. Last summer, social media users told him not to wear a mask on an American Airlines flight.
But it’s not just about politics. Eagle-eyed travelers have so many questions – and so many colds – about flights to Mexico.
The greatest unknowns:
1. Did Cruz get a COVID negative test in Cancun so he could board his flight back to Houston? All travelers on international flights to the United States, including US citizens, must now show a negative COVID-19 test taken no later than three days prior to departure or provide evidence that they have recovered from the virus in the past three months The Ordinance on Disease Control and Prevention, which came into force on January 26, is not exempt from the rule. Many hotels in Mexico have added quick tests to give travelers confidence to book trips, and tests are being carried out at Cancun International Airport, although officials say this should be used as a “last resort”.
COVID-19 testing is not required to board flights from the United States to Mexico. However, if Cruz took a test right before his Wednesday flight, as recommended by the CDC for people planning to travel during the pandemic, he would still be covered by these results.
Given the dangerous road conditions and blackout in Texas, many social media users asked where Cruz could have gotten a COVID-19 test at the last minute if he had done so before the trip.
2. Why do photos show how Cruz plays a big role? Hand luggage if it only went overnight?
Cruz’s testimony mentioning his return on Thursday suggests that this was his plan, although at least one report quoting unnamed sources at United said he originally had no plans to return until Saturday. (United does not disclose any passenger travel plans.)
Twitter users said the size of his carry-on bag, shown on social media photos on the flight to Houston and a Reuters photo taken at Cancun Airport on Thursday, seems to bear this out.
Late Thursday, Cruz confirmed that he wanted to stay for the entire weekend.
3. How did he get such a large carry-on bag at United? The black bag that Cruz brought to Mexico seems overcrowded and probably wouldn’t fit in one of those bag sizes at the gate or escape the prying eyes of the staff overseeing boarding with bag tags in hand ready to take them check.
4th Why was a US Senator stuck in economy class on the flight to Cancun?
Photos on social media show Cruz traveling in economy class with his family. Cruz has been listed for an upgrade to Business Class, but his upgrade has not been resolved, according to reports based on United’s public list of passengers awaiting upgrade or standby travel.
This is not uncommon for frequent flyers with airline status, especially at business hubs like Houston and on flights to popular destinations.
5. Does Cruz have to quarantine now after being back in Texas?
The CDC recommends quarantine after travel, but this is not required. And Texas has no restrictions on returning travelers like some states do.