american flying from Montreal: a few questions
Replies: 19 - Last Post: Aug 9, 2012 5:08 PM Last Post By: chefhagan
Aug 4, 2012 11:54 AM
american flying from Montreal: a few questionsI'll be flying up to Montreal to visit my sister for a week or two. I'd love to take advantage of being in Canada to also do a side-trip for several weeks into Cuba to do some photography.
1. Does American Airlines or United (or anyone in their respective alliance) fly Montreal-Cuba? . . . I'd obviously prefer to use frequent-flier points to get my tickets. If so, can I--as an American--book this trip? Or do I need my sister to book it for me?
2. If anyone happens to know, how many freq.flier miles does it take to redeem this particular round-trip? (I called United, but they would not give me any information, as my call originated in the USA, and I gather that giving out info re Cuba to Americans is against their airline's policy. . . very strange)
3. If no alliance flies to Cuba (or if they do, but will not allow Americans to use freq flier miles to get such a ticket), what are the suggestions for buying a relatively cheap ticket there? (I'd be flying in Oct or Nov, I imagine)
thanks in advance,
Aug 4, 2012 1:03 PM
1Airlines that fly out of montreal are mostly charters absolutly no american airlines to cuba.from canada
You can book a trip with them yourself using your credit card;
Frequent flyer miles dont count there so forget it .
Use sell off vacations or direct with sun wing airlines ; ac. airtransat ; west jet ; dont forget an american must have proof of medical insurance upon entering cuba cheers
Aug 4, 2012 4:33 PM
Aug 4, 2012 4:56 PM
3You can use your AA FFMiles to get to Canada and from there to a "gateway City", e.g. MEX, CUN, PTY, etc. From there you can use your FFMiles with their alliance airlines, e.g. COPA, for a RT to HAV but you need to book the ticket through their offices in Mexico, and have someone in one of those cities, or in Havana, pay the tax on the ticket. If you can accomplish that the ticket will be waiting for you in that gateway city.
RT tickets from the US to any of the gateway cities can be as little as 17.5K miles or as much as 60K, depending on when you are flying and in what class. I suspect it's identical from Canada. AA has a quite remarkable website that lets you plug in all sorts of options but none of them include flights to Cuba. AA doesn't go there. Several of their alliance airlines do, however, COPA probably having the most flights.
Get into the area that reference AAdvantage reward travel and it's fairly intuitive as such things go.
It occurred to me than Air Canada is an American Alliance partner and they most assuredly do have direct flights to Cuba. You might ask if you can transfer the miles to your sister and have her book the whole thing as a straight shot.
United merged with Continental recently and they have LOTS of partner airlines that fly to Cuba and I have used their FFMiles for a RT to Cuba as well. TACA being one of them.
The thing to know first and foremost is that you can only get info re flights to Cuba from an airline office outside of the US. All the major airlines, or their partners have such offices and all such offices have English-speaking agents. It's a bit of a nuisance getting through it all but when you can fly, as I have, SFO-GUA-HAV or SFO-PTY-HAV for about $150 RT, it's the spoonful of sugar that makes that task go down a whole lot easier.
PM me if you have any questions.
Aug 6, 2012 3:26 PM
4It occurred to me than Air Canada is an American Alliance partner and they most assuredly do have direct flights to Cuba. You might ask if you can transfer the miles to your sister and have her book the whole thing as a straight shot.
Unfortunately, Air Canada now has awful air-only service to Cuba.
Right now, trying to book a flight to Havana on AC online brings up the message: "To book a flight to Cuba, please contact Air Canada Vacations or your travel agent." (AC Vacations being their package-tour subsidiary.)
Going to the AC Vacations site, a 2-week ticket Montreal-Havana in mid-October is an over-long journey via Toronto (7 hours down, 12 hours back) costing more than $1000.
Sunwing has packages available in October, but no air-only available on their site before December. Air Transat has stopped flying to Havana altogether, focusing instead on Varadero and other resort-oriented runs.
Best option I found was Cubana: Montreal-Havana direct, two week stay (October 13-27): $525.
If the OP wants to visit Montreal and break it up with a couple of weeks in Cuba, there seem to be two options:
- go via Mexico or another third country, as you suggest, thus using the points
- or forget about points, forget about Canadian airlines, bite the bullet and pay the $525 to Cubana (or whatever the price is for their particular dates - could be more, could be less). It's a direct flight lasting ~ 4 hours, bound to be faster than any routing via a third country.
And as an afterthought, there's the option of booking a cheapo package, which I've probably advocated before, but I doubt you'll find anything as cheap as that Cubana ticket.
Edited by: soymateo
Edited by: soymateo
Aug 6, 2012 5:00 PM
5Hiya, not a clue about the airline and arimile stuff, but do know a thing or two about photography and have a big tip... stay in casas particulares as they are some of the most photogenic places I've been!!!
A lot of them a full of art and antiques, and have beautiful gardens and roof terraces. Also, once you get friendly with the owners, they tell you all about the history of the place and the people, and this increased intimacy seems to seep into the photos!
I stayed in Casa Havana, which is basically the ideal casa and is basically what I just described above. I think it's on other sites like CubaJunky, but I used this website as it's easier and I've used it a couple of times now with no problem. Check it out: http://www.cubacasa.co.uk
If you go to Trinidad, check out this casa, it's unbelievable!!! Casa Santana
Just got back from Cuba myself and am already dying to go back!!! Enjoy!!! x
Aug 6, 2012 7:18 PM
Aug 6, 2012 7:38 PM
7I'm not meaning to sound critical, amarilla, even though I am so often misinterpreted that way, that I have to ask. Are you gonna share with the OP about how they might do that, based on your experience, or are you just wanting to say that you did?
The purpose of this forum is to assist travelers to Cuba. That used to be primarily expressed by those with experience sharing with those who have none. I'm not sure where that goal was lost but it most certainly is no longer its primary purpose.
I cannot imagine that anyone reading of your success, who share your circumstances, would not relish the opportunity to know how to do it themselves.
Any possibility you could share that with us?
Aug 7, 2012 2:51 PM
Aug 7, 2012 3:12 PM
Aug 7, 2012 4:11 PM
Aug 7, 2012 4:15 PM
11A couple of weeks in Cuba might work too. Just buy my ticket from Cubana, not AC Vacations, please.
Aug 7, 2012 4:37 PM
12Certainly I can share my experience of booking flights from Canada to Cuba while residing and buying tickets in the US. I have done this a variety of ways--through a friend who is a travel agent in Montreal, buying tickets directly at the Cubana office in downtown Toronto, through the charter website, and through travel consolidators like BelAir
I have been traveling to Cuba about twice a year for nine years so I have some experience with this. The first couple of times I did the OFAC licensed arrangement of traveling via Miami. I live up north so it turned out this was not the best for me. Why? Because of the problem with connecting flights which always necessitated a hotel stay on either end of the trip and airfare into Miami. I will not go into the bad experiences I had.
I used to fly Cubana because of the extra baggage allowance, and because my husband is Cuban. Alas, they have seriously reduced their flights into Oriente. My husband and I always had to buy the tickets at their office because he's a Cuban national residing in the US and that was what they said we had to do if we wanted to fly out of Toronto.
When I travel by myself, I research the flight costs online, wait until they go down and call my friend the travel agent. I give her my credit card info on the phone, and she books the flight and sends me an email confirmation. If I am unable to reach her, I have had no difficulties booking online and paying with a US credit card. In fact, I did just that three or four weeks ago.
After a bad experience with Air Canada Vacations stranding me in Holguin during Hurricane Ike, I swore i would never book with them again, ever. It was only because another tour company booked a bus to Varadero that I was able to get to Havana for a flight they did nothing to assist with, plus a $50 cab ride from Varadero to Havana. This summer there have not been as many flights so I had to go with them this time. It went okay. I just returned a couple of days ago.
Aug 7, 2012 5:46 PM
13Great response and description of your process, amarilla. Thanks for that.
I'm not sure why our exclamation-packed newbie poster found my response to you so bark-y or bite-y. I hope that you did not as it was never my intention. I wasn't suggesting you were one of those who have turned this forum into more of a snarky, smarmy chatroom than a provender of the experiences of posters in how they dealt with the myriad issues involved with traveling to Cuba. I hope you are aware of that.
I just felt that other Americans could benefit a lot from hearing the specifics of your experience in an issue that comes up here all the time for we benighted Americanos. I think your detailed explanation will, in fact, assist a lot of others in making their own USA-CUBA plans.
I am frequently surprised that some here read my posts in ways that have nothing to do with what I said and everything to do with their own predilections.
Aug 8, 2012 5:02 AM
14It has always been possible to purchase airline tickets to Cuba through Mexican travel agencies or with the airline directly in Mexico using a US issued credit card. There never has seemed to be a problem doing that using Canadian agencies either or buying directly from the airline while physically in Canada.
When Mexicana still existed a traveler IN THE US could purchase tickets with an AMEX card by calling the airline directly in Mexico. I seem to recall posts from people in years past who were not able to do that when calling Air Canada in Canada.
What a traveler was not able to do was purchase tickets to Cuba online directly from the airline if they were PHYSICALLY IN THE US. So what Amarilla did is something new, at least in my experience.
Whether it ever jumps up to bite the airline or not, this last scenario is a clear violation of the OFAC travel restrictions. Travelocity paid a six figure fine several years ago for not having mechanisms in place to prevent US travelers from using the site to make travel arrangements to Cuba. Mexicana had policies that made it difficult (ie. nearly impossible) for travelers PHYSICALLY IN THE US to pay for or even make travel arrangements for Cuba. If I understand Amarilla correctly, she simply booked and paid online using the Air Canada website.
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