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Experiences with Cuba Travel Services?

Experiences with Cuba Travel Services?

Old Sep 12, 15, 7:10 pm
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Experiences with Cuba Travel Services?

I was wondering if any of you have successfully booked an independent trip to/from Cuba with Cuba Travel Services. I understand they sell the seats on the Sun Country charter flights.

Their website lists a schedule of flights but doesn't seem to have prices or a way to book online.

There is an "online chat" feature, but it's always offline and invites you to submit a question and they will get back to you. I did that, but no one ever got back to me.


I tried calling them today, I kept getting voicemail asking me to leave a name and number, they don't seem to answer the phones, maybe that's because it was Saturday.

Their website has a reservation form you can fill out but I couldn't see an email address or what the booking procedure is.

I just want to book one seat on a flight from Santiago de Cuba to Miami in November, is there an easy way to do this? Is it something I need to do very soon otherwise they will likely sell out?

Lastly, I read a few things about needing to check in for these these flights four hours early, is that true and if so, why?

Thanks.
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Old Sep 12, 15, 10:36 pm
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CTS will require you to sign an affidavit (I see the form on their website) saying that your trip conforms to U.S.-approved travel to Cuba. Independent travel does not.

The four-hour check-in suggestion for charter flights is a good idea. Check-in at Cuban airports is bureaucratic and tedious.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 1:17 am
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I think a person can travel independently under a general license. Check box on affidavit, sign it, book ticket.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 6:54 am
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If you are going independently as a tourist, that does not qualify.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 7:27 am
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I didn't say tourist, but if someone wanted to go as a tourist but checked a general license box on the Cuba Travel Services affidavit, what issue would there be?

Also, I would only use them to fly back, I would go to Cuba on my own via Haiti.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 8:52 am
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"General license" refers to the fact that we no longer have to apply for an individual license on a case-by-case basis the way we did in the past. We still have to fit into one of the 12 categories that the U.S. government approves of for travel to Cuba. Tourism and most independent travel do not qualify. I've gone as a journalist this year, under that general license. I didn't have to apply for a license from the Treasury Department. I still had to be a journalist.

CTS wants a signed statement from you so that if you get into trouble for unapproved travel to Cuba, they don't get into trouble for taking you there and back. And, no, coming and/or going, you'd have to be on an approved trip to use their flights.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 11:16 am
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Originally Posted by SJOGuy View Post
"General license" refers to the fact that we no longer have to apply for an individual license on a case-by-case basis the way we did in the past. We still have to fit into one of the 12 categories that the U.S. government approves of for travel to Cuba. Tourism and most independent travel do not qualify. I've gone as a journalist this year, under that general license. I didn't have to apply for a license from the Treasury Department. I still had to be a journalist.

CTS wants a signed statement from you so that if you get into trouble for unapproved travel to Cuba, they don't get into trouble for taking you there and back. And, no, coming and/or going, you'd have to be on an approved trip to use their flights.
Is there anything that stops a person from checking one of the general license boxes and going with Cuba Travel Services, regardless of whether they actually qualify for said checked box?
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Old Sep 13, 15, 11:36 am
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Your conscience? And whatever the penalties are for signing a false statement?

I'm sure people have signed false affidavits. Here's the way I look at it: A lot of Americans travel to Cuba outside official channels. They've been doing it for years. If you're going to be one of them, assume the risk 100% yourself. Don't put a U.S. business at risk. CTS is not supposed to be taking you to or from Cuba unless you clearly fit into one of the 12 categories of approved travel. I'm assuming by all your questions that you don't qualify.

Why can't you go back the way you came (via Haiti)? You'd be dealing with a non-U.S. airline that's under no obligation to determine if you qualify for travel to Cuba on a route outside the U.S.

Last edited by SJOGuy; Sep 13, 15 at 11:43 am
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Old Sep 13, 15, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by SJOGuy View Post
Your conscience? And whatever the penalties are for signing a false statement?

I'm sure people have signed false affidavits. Here's the way I look at it: A lot of Americans travel to Cuba outside official channels. They've been doing it for years. If you're going to be one of them, assume the risk 100% yourself. Don't put a business at risk. CTS is not supposed to be taking you to or from Cuba unless you clearly fit into one of the 12 categories of approved travel. I'm assuming by all your questions that you don't qualify.

Why can't you go back the way you came (via Haiti)? You'd be dealing with a non-U.S. airline that's under no obligation to determine if you qualify for travel to Cuba on a route outside the U.S.
Why would anyone want to go to Haiti twice?

It doesn't sound like Cuba Travel Services has any obligation to determine if passengers qualify for travel to Cuba, other than having them fill out the form and check a box.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 2:08 pm
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You asked about CTS. I told you what I know. I've been researching this this past year for a project I'm working on. Those are the facts. I have nothing invested in what you choose to do.
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Old Sep 15, 15, 4:13 pm
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A Cuba Travel Services rep tells me they can only book a round trip flight originating in Cuba, not a one way. Does that sound right? Is there another way to book a seat one way on a Sun Country flight from Cuba to USA?
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Old Sep 15, 15, 9:26 pm
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If that's what CTS told you, then that's that. These are charter flights that you cannot book directly with the airline in question.

That's why I suggested earlier that you return the way you came, via Haiti. What airline is taking you to Cuba?
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Old Sep 15, 15, 10:21 pm
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Sunrise Airways from Haiti to Santiago. Then I need to fly from Santiago back to Las Vegas. The only one stop way is the charter flight via Miami as far as I know. Not even sure there's a workable routing with 2 stops, it might have to be three.

I know I can't book with Sun Country directly, I was curious if any other travel agencies might be able to book the ticket for me.

I guess I could buy a round trip ticket from Santiago to Miami and back and throw away the return part of it.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 6:29 am
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To be honest, I'm surprised they can sell you a roundtrip ticket originating in Cuba. I thought it would have to be USA-Cuba-USA.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 8:55 am
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Originally Posted by SJOGuy View Post
To be honest, I'm surprised they can sell you a roundtrip ticket originating in Cuba. I thought it would have to be USA-Cuba-USA.
Yeah, that would make sense. And maybe that's actually the case. I just got a short chat message back saying "We can't sell a one way ticket originating in Cuba" and then the chat went offline. Maybe they can't sell anything originating in Cuba.
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