Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
Round – trip YYZ to HAV
Categories: Trips, XYZ

Summer is coming and some friends, specially students, want to visit their families in Cuba for a month.

Purchasing an airplane ticket from Canada could be tricky if you want a direct flight to Havana. For Cubans living in Toronto the options are few: Air Canada and Cubana Airlines. Until 2005, Taca used to fly straight to Havana for an affordable price ($400) but rumours has it that Air Canada did not like the competition.

Since I am on the same “trying-to-buy-a-ticket” boat these days, I tried to do some research online to find out if Air Canada had any promotions for the Caribbean. The regular ticket price to Havana is around $900 CAN and you are with your feet on the  island in less than 4 hours. They also offer flexible days and a very nice time for departure and arrival. To my surprise, It turned out that first, AC does not let you use the points for trips to Cuba anymore and second, tickets to Cuba cannot be bought online like before, now you have to book it through a travel agent. My first and expensive option got difficult and annoying.
Cubana price is around $600 CAN but has a transit in Holguin or Camaguey. In the end the duration of the flight is over 5 hrs and the arrival in Havana is at 2:30 am. I called the Cubana office in Toronto and was able to find a ticket for $545 CAN, taxes included. I bought it without complaints.
As ridiculous as  it can be, when you search on certain sites for cheap flights to Cuba you get an error sign: “Due to United States travel restrictions, we are unable to display travel itineraries that include Cuba”, which already makes it hard to find a discount on sites like Kayak or Expedia. It does not matter if your departure is from Canada, the databases are American.
Two years ago, I called Air Transat to book a trip to Varadero. I figured that I could spend a week by the beach and then travel to Havana by bus.  When I told the agent on the phone that I wanted to stay in Cuba for three weeks she felt sorry for me and advised me that I either could book it for a week or two but more time than that was not possible.
Inexpensive trips to Cuba are designed for tourists. Cubana remains as my best option for now.

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