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Are US-Cuba award tix illegal? (Citizenship, FFP and airline all non-US)

Are US-Cuba award tix illegal? (Citizenship, FFP and airline all non-US)

Old Oct 28, 07, 11:55 am
  #1  
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Are US-Cuba award tix illegal? (Citizenship, FFP and airline all non-US)

Title says it all, really.
I'm not a US citizen and, courtesy of a very popular recent thread , will be finding myself on US soil for the first time in the near future. Unless I manage to work something out with a friend who is in PHL for a few months, and owing to a combination of political and cultural reasons that I won't discuss outside OMNI, I'm not really interested in visiting the US.
However, I could use this as an opportunity to go to a couple of places that I actually want to visit. And Cuba is one of these places.
AFAIK due to legal restrictions, no airline publishes a fare between US and Cuba, so a paid tkt is out of the question. I know I could fly via Canada on separate tix or get a charter of some sort or another through CUN or something, but it sounds a bit complicated and I'd rather fly a semi-logical routing with a semi-credible airline if at all possible.
This combination can be found in COPA Airlines (CM), an airline that has recently become a part of Skyteam, where most of my miles reside through OK+.
Does anyone know whether there is any legal barrier for a Greek citizen to buy a NYC-HAV tkt on a Panamanian airline using miles accrued in a Czech FFP?
I always confuse the poor souls at the OK+ service centre with my enquiries, so I'd rather run this with the FlyerTalk experts before speaking to them.
Any ideas?
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Old Oct 28, 07, 2:39 pm
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how are u returning to Greece??
I THINK you cant fly HAV_ NYC but I am not sure we just flew to CUN and hopped a cheappie to HAV and return.

you could fly out of HAV back to MAD then ATH.
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Old Oct 28, 07, 2:44 pm
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This question is probably better suited for one of the other forums. (There's one on Cuba specifically: FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel&Dining: Destination >> The World >>> Cuba.)


Anyway, I just returned from Cuba. I flew the "official way" via MIA. All the US flights are charters controlled by the US Dept of Treasury.

As a non-American, you can fly there via
-Mexico (although I heard the flight/plane is a bit scary/rickety)
-Bahamas
-Canada

I'd suggest that you do one of those routes to avoid the extra paperwork.

If you have questions about the best routing, I'd suggest emailing the folks at Marazul www.marazul.com . . . they are a travel services company specializing in Cuba travel. I've found them to be pretty responsive over email. And, they were LIFESAVERS in helping me get there last week for a conference AND in helping me return early when I learned that a family member fell ill.

Last edited by jlr4travel; Oct 28, 07 at 2:46 pm Reason: adding more info
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Old Oct 28, 07, 2:45 pm
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Not really the "latest frequent flyer program buzz"

Off to TravelBuzz.

Regards,

Flipside
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Old Oct 28, 07, 2:51 pm
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Originally Posted by tinkybelle View Post
SO
how are u returning to Greece??
I THINK you cant fly HAV_ NYC but I am not sure we just flew to CUN and hopped a cheappie to HAV and return.
I don't know whether I will return to Greece. I will obviously return to Europe, either going to CCS first and getting a deal to MAD, or flying back to N. America (NYC or YYZ) to catch a flight to PRG with the possibility of a free upgrade.
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Old Oct 28, 07, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by jlr4travel View Post
As a non-American, you can fly there via
-Mexico (although I heard the flight/plane is a bit scary/rickety)
-Bahamas
-Canada
If that wasn't obvious in the OP, I am hoping to fly CM via PTY (JFK-PTY-HAV).
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Old Oct 28, 07, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by flipside View Post
Not really the "latest frequent flyer program buzz"

Off to TravelBuzz.

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Flipside
Isn't the legality an FFP issue?
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Old Oct 28, 07, 3:04 pm
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Please continue to follow this thread in the FT Cuba Forum.
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Old Oct 28, 07, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
Please continue to follow this thread in the FT Cuba Forum.
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Oh come on.
That's most definitely NOT a Cuba issue. Any restrictions in place are put up by the US side. It's not like I'm trying to go into North Korea or Saudi Arabia!
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Old Oct 28, 07, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by graraps View Post
Does anyone know whether there is any legal barrier for a Greek citizen to buy a NYC-HAV tkt on a Panamanian airline using miles accrued in a Czech FFP?
I always confuse the poor souls at the OK+ service centre with my enquiries, so I'd rather run this with the FlyerTalk experts before speaking to them.
Any ideas?
I can't see why this would be a problem. I presume you will have a flight from NYC to Panama (totally legal under US law), and a connecting flight Panama - Havana which is outside US jurisdiction, and anyway as a Greek citizen even the US allows you to visit and spend money in Cuba.
The US doesn't have problems with non-Americans that are visiting Cuba - for instance most flights between Cuba and Amsterdam travel via US airspace.
The only problem you may have is when arriving in the US and explaining your itinerary to the immigration officer. They have the right to refuse entry (even if your plans are totally legal) and if he/she doesn't like your face or is an American of Cuban origin, you may be in deep sh!t.
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Old Oct 28, 07, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Sjoerd View Post
They have the right to refuse entry (even if your plans are totally legal) and if he/she doesn't like your face or is an American of Cuban origin, you may be in deep sh!t.
Assuming they refuse me entry, wouldn't I be allowed to get the next flight out to Panama?
My question isn't whether I can fly to Cuba from Panama, the question really is whether the US have a legalese way of prohibiting the issuance of any ticket that routes US-XXX-Cuba
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Old Oct 28, 07, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by graraps View Post
Assuming they refuse me entry, wouldn't I be allowed to get the next flight out to Panama?
My question isn't whether I can fly to Cuba from Panama, the question really is whether the US have a legalese way of prohibiting the issuance of any ticket that routes US-XXX-Cuba
I would assume not. You would probably be deported back to your port of origin.
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Old Oct 29, 07, 9:33 am
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Originally Posted by mkt View Post
I would assume not. You would probably be deported back to your port of origin.
Sounds like a MR opportunity
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Old Oct 29, 07, 10:31 am
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Originally Posted by graraps View Post
Assuming they refuse me entry, wouldn't I be allowed to get the next flight out to Panama?
My question isn't whether I can fly to Cuba from Panama, the question really is whether the US have a legalese way of prohibiting the issuance of any ticket that routes US-XXX-Cuba
Every airline that flys to the US has to fly passengers who are denied to enter the US back to where they arrived from. It is one of the regulations for airlines if they want to fly to the US.

Anyway how high are the numbers of people that were send back by the immigration officer? How often has that happen?
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Old Oct 29, 07, 2:51 pm
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I know you CAN NOT book PTY-HAV tickets on CM with OnePass miles under any circumstances. I can't remember where, but I have seen that policy in writing. And OnePass is CM's own "native" program.

CM award with OK+ miles. Hmmmm. That is a good question. A wild guess would be there is no award inventory period but I'd still call up and pose the question.
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