As Cuba is slowly opening up to the outside world again, more and more people are taking the chance to travel there from the United States and from around the world. It is now easier than ever to make Cuba your vacation destination and to help you do so, here is a brief guide to flights to Cuba and some information to help you plan your journey to this island nation:
Airports in Cuba:
Jose Martí International Airport near Havana is the main point of entry for most foreign tourists. Flights arrive at this airport from airports in Canada, Mexico, Florida and Europe. There are, however, other airports on the island that are better placed for those who wish to concentrate their visit in Central or Eastern Cuba. You may fly to Antonio Maceo Airport near Santiago de Cuba from the island's Caribbean neighbours Jamaica or Haiti and there are also some flights to this airport from further afield, from Miami, Toronto and a couple of European points of departure. However, if you are visiting Varadero or Holguin or one of the other main resort areas that the frequent charter fights that go direct to those destinations could be the cheapest option. The airports in Cuba are relatively modern, air conditioned and well-equipped compared to many other airports in the Caribbean.
Points of Departure:
In the Americas, there are many points of departure for flying to Cuba. Most of these are outside the United States in Canada, Mexico and other Central and South American nations. There are however an increasing number of flights for US nationals from Miami and elsewhere, though there are still a number of restrictions for US nationals wishing to visit Cuba. Many other airlines in the states have put in proposals to start running routes to Cuba, though it is thought that many of these will not kick in until the fall and diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States will depend to a large degree on the results of the upcoming elections. Still, today, it is easier than it has ever been for US nationals to visit this fascinating country. 110 flights are allowed every day, and things look set to continue to improve if relations continue on the same trajectory. There are also a broad range of departure points for the ever growing number of European tourists looking to visit the Cuban resorts with a huge number of relatively affordable charter flights available.
From Miami to the Havana airport, the flight time is just 28 minutes, making this a relatively stress-free flight from the US. However, for US nationals who cannot get on a direct flight out the the US, flights from Mexico City (around 2 hours and 30 minutes) or from Montreal or Toronto ( around 3 and a half hours) could also be valid options. From Europe, non stop flights go from Paris or Madrid in just under ten hours.
The cost of flights to Cuba can vary considerably based on the time of year and, of course, the points of departure and the airport into which you are going to fly. The prices from the United States and other north and central American points of departure are currently rather high though these are expected to go down as more flights into Cuba are allowed from the United States. Some of the cheapest flights to Havana and elsewhere from Canada can cost as little as $380-400 USD though average costs are more in the region of $850 - $1,000 for your return flight. From Mexico, you may be able to find flight deals starting from around $270-$300, but most flights cost a little in excess of this price. Prices of flights from Europe to Havana tend to be in the region of $1,300-$3000 though it is usually possible to find much cheaper deals from European destinations by choosing package options and flying on charter flights direct to the main resort areas on the island. Flight prices from the UK, for example, tend to start around $500 per person if you shop around for a cheap deal. The good news for many visitors is that once regular flights start heading to Cuba from the US, airfare prices could go down by as much as 50% and already, package options and tours can save you money and can be easier than independent travel.
How To Save Money on Flights to Cuba:
The best way to save money on flights to Cuba is to shop around and to keep your eyes open for deals that include your flights to tourist resort areas and your accommodation. Charter flights to Varadero and Holguin from Canadian and European airports are usually more affordable than booking independently on flights to Havana. You can also save money if you are on a budget by choosing to travel to Cuba outside of peak travel times and to try to avoid travelling during the popular times like school holidays. Another hint when trying to find the cheapest flights is to consider flying into one of the neighboring Caribbean islands of Jamaica or Haiti as taking local flights or even a boat from there can sometimes be a cheaper option that is well worth investigating if you are trying to travel as cheaply as possible.
Flying to Cuba is easier than it has been in the past and does not need to be a hugely expensive proposition. In fact, flying to Cuba can be a cost-effective way to reach and enjoy the beaches of the Caribbean and costs can compare favourably to the costs of other holidays on islands in the region. The thawing of relations between the US and Cuba will, it is to be hoped, continue to make it easier and easier to fly to this fascinating Caribbean island nation.