How to get to Cuba on short notice (as Americans)?
February 23, 2013 2:05 PM   Subscribe

We're Americans in Mexico and want to get to Cuba but don't have tickets. How does this work?

My girlfriend and I are currently in Puerto Vallarta but fly into Cancun (by way of Mexico City) Monday afternoon. We'd like to immediately fly to Cuba and were under the impression that we could simply buy tickets with cash once we arrived (due to something I saw online), however we're a bit apprehensive about not having confirmed tickets. We've tried calling different airlines but haven't been able to get a hold of anyone. So: Can I use my CC to buy the tickets, or is this asking for trouble? What about a Visa gift card sort of thing? If we wait until Monday at Cancun (or Mexico City) is it likely that we'll be able to get in? We have a friend here in Puerto Vallarta who could buy the tickets for us (I think) if we can't work anything else out. Would that work or does the CC have to be tied to one of the travelers somehow? Any guidance would be much appreciated.
posted by JasonSch to Travel & Transportation around Cuba (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You have read this, haven't you?
posted by TheRaven at 2:21 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ahem, someone we know did this. It's really easy, I forget if they paid cash or used a credit card in the cancun airport, but it was smooth and there was similar apprehension about not having reservations. But you need to know that your ATM cards are worth bumpkis in Cuba, so bring cash, like more than you think you need.
posted by history is a weapon at 2:34 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ahem, someone I know did this, but from Costa Rica. They just walked into a travel agency and paid cash. (And yes, take plenty of cash with you.)
posted by trip and a half at 2:51 PM on February 23, 2013

An actual friend did this. She used a credit card to buy the tickets and ended up being questioned by US authorities, and she says they opened her international mail for years afterward. That was some years ago. What I hear these days, however, continues to be the same: cash only, for everything.

It seems like it would be theoretically possible for a Mexican national to buy tickets in your name with their Mexican credit card, but I wouldn't ask that of a friend.
posted by ceiba at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ahem, someone I know bought tickets Cancun/Havana/Cancun about 10 years ago with NO problem. You had to buy visas which were about $20 each at the time. One half was taken on arrival in Havana and the other half taken when leaving the country. Not losing the visa was pretty important. No stamps in your visa. Take lots of cash and nowadays you have to exchange it for Cuban dollars. Amazing experiences.
posted by lois1950 at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2013

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