How Cuban travel restrictions impact non-Americans

Posted: 14-Sep-16 13:45

As travel restrictions have continued to ease between the United States and Cuba it has left many with plenty of questions about what's allowed under the law. This becomes increasingly confusing when non-Americans book trips to the island originating from the U.S. An experienced travel writer tackles one of the issues regarding air travel concerns between the two countries.

How Cuban travel restrictions impact non-Americans

Nearly two years ago the United States announced it was taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba, eventually leading to much less restrictive travel between the two nations. While it’s now possible for Americans to travel to Cuba under one of the 12 approved travel categories the issue becomes more cloudy when it comes to non-Americans making the travel bookings.

To help clear up some of the confusion, travel correspondent Simon Calder of The Independent recently published a response to one particular question regarding travel originating in the United States and bound for Cuba. In the article a British citizen questions whether while on holiday to Florida they can legally book a direct flight from Miami to Havana for an additional short trip.

Calder acknowledges that American citizens are forbidden to travel to Cuba solely for tourism, but that restriction does not extend beyond U.S. citizens. While Americans are expected to only go to the island for things like cultural, people-to-people interactions and other approved travel reasons that’s not required of non-citizens.

The author also rightly points out that currently there are no U.S. commercial airlines with direct flights scheduled to Havana. While a certain number of commercial airlines recently gained approval for the future, the flights cannot yet be booked. There are, however, direct commercial flights scheduled to several other Cuban cities from U.S. airports. As well, there are currently options in charter flights, originating in the U.S. and bound for Havana available to travellers right now.

Calder suggests using a travel agent like ABC Charters to book a ticket. Non-U.S. citizens will have to fill out a form declaring citizenship in another country and purchase a ticket, likely in cash at the airport. The author claims that returning to the United States from Cuba is less cumbersome, and non-U.S. citizens returning from Cuba go through the same arrival process as those on all Latin American flights.

He admits charter flights are costly, as he last paid $250 for a 40-minute flight to Cuba. However, the author proposes that competition from commercial airlines in the future may drive down prices. Already some U.S. airlines have offered fantastic deals in air travel to Cuba, with some less than $200 round-trip and less than $100 one-way.

While JetBlue was the first U.S. commercial airline to make the trip in more than 50 years, it will hardly be the last as several airlines have already began booking trips to Cuba, with direct flights to Havana expected sometime in the future.


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