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Ted Cruz Faces Controversy for Cancun Trip, Heads Home

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Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was captured flying to Cancun on Wednesday while millions of Texas residents were still without power amid a deep freeze in the South, causing an uproar online that forced him to return home on Thursday afternoon.

Photos purportedly of Cruz boarding United Flight 1020 from Houston-Intercontinental (IAH) to Cancun (CUN) started circulating Wednesday evening. The one-time presidential contender heading for a tropical vacation while his home state suffers immediately triggered outrage. Texas has been through nearly a weeklong bout of below-freezing temperatures, leading to massive power outages. Millions of Texans have been without heat or water for days as officials struggle to get the state's electrical grid back up and running at full capacity.

With the uproar mounting, Cruz bolted back to Texas less than 18 hours later. An upgrade list for a Thursday afternoon flight from Cancun back to Houston showed “CRU, R.” pending for an upgrade. Cruz's full name is Rafael, and that same name was listed on the upgrade queue on Wednesday's flight down to Mexico.

His name later disappeared from Thursday's upgrade list, meaning his upgrade could have cleared, he could have withdrawn his request to avoid public scrutiny, or he may have changed flights.

ted cruz cancun  

By Thursday afternoon, Cruz released a statement acknowledging the trip to Mexico and confirming he would return on Thursday. That statement was ambiguously written to avoid addressing whether he was cutting the trip short due to blowback.

“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” Cruz said.

Traveling during the midst of a crisis is a nonstarter in politics, regardless of whether Cruz – as a U.S. senator – could have done more by staying at home. Flying in the midst of a pandemic to a destination that public health officials have asked Americans to avoid is another matter, too.

Politicians and everyday Americans of all political stripes scorned Cruz for making the trip in the first place. Several Texas Democrats called on Cruz to resign.

“Guess which U.S. Senator from Texas flew to Cancun while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water?” Democratic state Rep. Gene Wu said on Twitter.

Cruz ran for president in 2016 and is believed to be gearing up for a run again in 2024.


This is a breaking news story. Check back for more updates.

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Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

11 Responses

  • Please stop posting this garbage on a good website. This isn’t travel news. Senator keeps vacation doesn’t matter and only alienates loyal subscribers. No one subscribing wants your political opinion they want travel deals and information pertinent to traveling.

    • You may not like the story, and that’s fine. But there is no political opinion here – and it is news. We very rarely post about anything involving politics and only do so when it is related to travel.

      • Kyle, it is a fine line. For example, this line “Flying in the midst of a pandemic to a destination that public health officials have asked Americans to avoid is another matter, too.” Many of us have traveled to foreign countries (including Mexico) during the pandemic.

        Heck, ThriftyTraveler has sent me many deals on flights to Mexico and I appreciate that. I do agree that you should consider deleting this post and staying out of the fray. Further, the coverage of this story about Cruz, while failing to post similar stories about Democratic politicians doing the same or similar things may lead some of your views to assume the post is politically biased.

        “During a Facebook video message posted Nov. 9, while he was in Mexico, the mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler said, “We need to stay home if you can, do everything you can to try to keep the numbers down. This is not the time to relax.”

        Adler had traveled to Cabo San Lucas via private jet, according to the Austin-American Statesman, which first reported on the trip Wednesday.”


        • You’re absolutely right, Chris – it is a fine line. And we’re not perfect at treading it. For example, we should have written about Steve Adler (among other politicians, many of whom were Democrats) failing to heed their own advice and guidance.

          In this case, we wrote about Cruz in part because we were the first to report Cruz’s plans to return home based upon his upgrade request with United.

          But I take your critiques seriously. We can always do better.

          • Kyle, thank you for your thoughtfulness and consideration of these difficult issues. Regardless of political leanings Cruz certainly made a bad choice, both politically and leadership wise, to fly to Cancun during the power/weather crisis in TX. I applaud you on being on front end of breaking news on his return flight via tracking his upgrade request. That is solid and astute investigation and reporting, perhaps just not fitting content for what this site is as far as the types of stories and posts its features, and the target audience for the product that is ThriftyTraveler.

    • Agreed Harvey! Love this group but definitely not interested in the non travel/deal related info. We want travel info I don’t particularly care what politician is doing what not why I subscribe to this group.

  • You need to avoid even the appearance of politics if you are trying to run a for-profit business. The country is divided evenly, so why risk half of your customer base?

  • I agree. I was surprised and disappointed to see the Cruz trip politicized on Thrifty Traveler without mention of the many other trips taken by elected persons throughout the last year. And this site should mention none. This was written with a political “shame on you sound” and not because you wanted to write about his return. We need a break from political nastiness and I thought Thrifty Traveler was a site to plan our dreams and get away from political bias.

  • Yes – Saying it is not” political” is hard to believe, when at the same time back in December former President Obama was shown spending a happy, holiday in Hawaii with his family after flying from Washington D.C. At this time traveling, when majority of Americans were not even allowed to attend church services or visit their families during the holiday. Makes me question many things- including my membership!

  • I’ve been visiting the site for a while, and I think the real issue is that this was a missed opportunity. Ted Cruz can pound sand, even his family likely feels this way. As some constructive criticism, however, this doesn’t read as a travel piece.

    One way to use this could be an article on the benefits of points and miles in an emergency, or what options you have for changing the return leg of a round trip ticket. “Suppose that you take a vacation during a major crisis at work, and the press finds out. Here are some ways Chase UR can help you move up your return and save face!”

  • I really cannot believe what I read about Ted Cruz. This is really not the time to go on a vacation I would say. He decided to go to Mexico apparently. Did he forget that the entire state of Texas is frozen solid?

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