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Flying to Cuba from US via Canada

Flying to Cuba from US via Canada

Old Jun 24, 12, 9:02 pm
  #1  
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Flying to Cuba from US via Canada

Hi all,

In the purely hypothetical case that I was interested in flying to Cuba without getting US government authorization because it's a clear restriction on my freedom of movement and an inane policy in all ways....

How do I book a flight? Air Canada has stopped selling flights to Cuba unless they're part of a vacation package with a luxury hotel attached. I would be looking to travel independently to Havana to explore the culture - staying in a huge resort doesn't appeal to me.

There was a thread a few months ago about AC moving all flights to Cuba to their vacation division, but I just recall people complaining about the change - no mention of what this means in practice for booking flights.

Anyone tried recently?

I suppose I could fly through Mexico, but I'd prefer to do Canada because it's a much easier country to deal with in all ways.

Last edited by M60_to_LGA; Jun 24, 12 at 9:09 pm
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Old Jun 25, 12, 8:27 am
  #2  
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I've never done it through Canada. I've done it via Bahamas (AA/CU), Panama (CM, 2 separate tix), and Dominican Republic (AA or B6/CU) though.
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Old Jun 26, 12, 12:06 pm
  #3  
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Bear in mind that since the flight from Canada overflies the U.S., your personal data will be transmitted to the U.S. government. Safer to fly to Cuba via a country unfriendly to the U.S. Venezuela comes to mind.
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Old Jun 28, 12, 10:12 pm
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There's no need to worry about any reprisals from the U.S. They are not in the business of enforcing the embargo.

I flew TACA recently via SJO--a very easy trip. SJO is a great airport to connect in.
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Old Jun 29, 12, 7:28 am
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Thanks to all for the insight! I'm not saying I'm going to do this, mind you, but the idea is gnawing at me...

Here's another question for those US citizens who have done the trip. How do you deal with the money issue given that US credit/debit cards and travelers checks are unusable in Cuba? Did you just bring a huge wad of cash? Or are there ways of, say, getting a Canadian-issued prepaid debit card and using that to access money in Cuba? For obvious reasons, it would seem that bringing lots of cash is a bad idea.
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Old Jun 29, 12, 1:33 pm
  #6  
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I bring a huge wad of canadian cash, with some supplementary Euro and USD, and ridiculous amounts of common sense with how much I carry on my person and where I store the rest.
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Old Jul 5, 12, 3:21 pm
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Been there twice via Mexico (CUN) - the only thing that gave me heebie-jeebies during the trip was yes, you have to bring a big wad of cash and more worrisome - you have no source of more if somethings happens.

First time there brought Canadian money. After the first few days realized my cash burn-rate was higher than expected and started to panic - you can't just go to the ATM or bank and get more cash, you are pretty much on your own. Had to adjust and be more conscious of the spending and it worked out fine.

Second time I didn't bother getting the Canadian money. You get dinged something significant when you exchange US Dollars for CUCs (10%?) but I found that getting the Canadian money in the US, then exchanging back the leftover double-dinged me for exchange fees, plus the hassle factor.

Exchanging US dollars is not a problem at all, no matter what you exchange, do as much as you can at the airport when you arrive, that was the easiest currency exchange of the entire trip, all the other locations were open bad hours, had long lines and the wait was hours in some cases, you don't want to do it any more than you need to.

Euro is super easy to exchange too. I think even some of the hotels can change it for you as well.

Loved Havana, frozen in time and the people are great, nowhere else in the world like it, you need to see it before Starbucks and the Gap move in.
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Old Jul 15, 12, 8:47 am
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Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA View Post
Air Canada has stopped selling flights to Cuba unless they're part of a vacation package with a luxury hotel attached. I would be looking to travel independently to Havana to explore the culture - staying in a huge resort doesn't appeal to me.
I have had friends who booked a package with a charter company, and then just spent the first and last night at the resort. The rest of the time, they just toured independently. They actually found this cheaper than booking a flight alone. You might want to check out travel packages from Canada.
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Old Jul 15, 12, 3:01 pm
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Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA View Post
Thanks to all for the insight! I'm not saying I'm going to do this, mind you, but the idea is gnawing at me...

Here's another question for those US citizens who have done the trip. How do you deal with the money issue given that US credit/debit cards and travelers checks are unusable in Cuba? Did you just bring a huge wad of cash? Or are there ways of, say, getting a Canadian-issued prepaid debit card and using that to access money in Cuba? For obvious reasons, it would seem that bringing lots of cash is a bad idea.
I bring Euro cash with a Euro credit card as back-up. If I had US$ I'd change it into Euro or CAD as US$ gets dinged with an additional 10% on conversion at the airport.

Wrt routings you can also go via Grand Cayman and just buy a flight on Cayman Airways which goes 5 times a week between GCM and HAV.
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