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How to Book a Flight to Cuba as an American

Updated May, 2015

Cuba has been off limits to Americans for decades. Prior to the recent changes travel to the island nation required everyone to apply for a license though OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control). However, most Americans are not going to qualify for this license.

The good news is nobody needs to apply for a license anymore. Technically, the same people who would have been approved for the license are the same people who are permitted to travel after the recent changes to the Cuba travel policy.

The good news there are 12 very broad reasons OFAC will allow you to travel to Cuba as an American. Many Americans are have already flown to Cuba by fitting into the categories below.

Also Read: How to Travel to Cuba Without a License

Havana Cuba

According to OFAC this is what it takes to to travel to Cuba:

  • family visits
  • official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • journalistic activity
  • professional research and professional meetings
  • educational activities
  • religious activities
  • public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • support for the Cuban people
  • humanitarian projects
  • activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  • certain authorized export transactions

If you fit into one of these categories you qualify for a general license. There is no need to apply for a specific license through OFAC.

How to Travel to Cuba as an American

Enter Cuba through a gateway city.

This is the method I used and it requires Americans to travel through a third country to act as the gateway country.

You will need to book a flight to an gateway country (such as Mexico) first and book an additional flight to Cuba from that country. Then you will simply fly back home to the U.S. from the gateway country after your trip to Cuba.

For example, many Americans fly to Cuba through Canada or Mexico. However, you can fly through any other country such as Panama or through other Caribbean countries with ease. This all depends on airfare and your itinerary.

I flew through Cancun because flights are often cheap to the city and Cubana Air flies to Cuba from there every day of the week.

Which Sites Can You Book Cuba Flights On?

Kayak or Orbitz are not going to display NYC–>Havana. That is never going to happen until travel is freely open between the two countries. For now you need to book your flight using other sites.

CubaJet is often a simple site to find flights to Havana on Cubana or AeroMexico (the site appears to be down right now).

Cubana.cu is a great way to book a flight to Havana as well.

Cheapair.com now offers routes to Havana from the U. S. They fly from Miami, Tampa, and NYC.

I used CubaJet but was booked on Cubana. The sites get the job done but they aren’t the most user-friendly sites.

Best Alternative for Cuba Flights

Skyscanner.ca (not .com)

Skyscanner.com will not show you flights to Cuba from anywhere (not even from Mexico). It’s funny it will display the flights that exist in the “search the whole month” but after clicking on them they are no longer available. Luckily, there is a quick fix.

How to Book a Flight to Cuba

Change the site to the Canadian version to book your flight

How to Book a Flight to Cuba

You should be able to select a country–>Select Canada

How to Book a Flight to Cuba

Now Flights to Cuba will appear from places like Mexico City, Cancun, Panama City and more.

How to Book a Flight to Cuba

Skyscanner will find all the sites that allow you to book flights to Cuba for you. This includes Cubana which means if it’s the cheapest flight you will have to book through their site anyway.

Skyscanner makes the search a little easier and it’s a great place to start your Cuba flight search.

Have more questions about traveling to Cuba as an American?

  • Will Cuba stamp my passport?
  • How do I get a visa?
  • Will my credit card work in Cuba?
  • Do I need a license to travel to Cuba?
  • It is illegal to travel to Cuba as an American?

Head over to this post and join the discussion and find answers:

How to Travel to Cuba Without a License

I have been traveling to over 100 countries by using the methods I share on this site. My goal is to maximize every trip and make the most of my adventures. Join me on Instagram.

  • Tegra

    Can I use my US credit card on cubana.cu to purchase a flight? Thx!

    • Nancy

      Did you ever get an answer for this? I’m wondering the same.

  • zeek

    if you go to cuba without a group is it difficult to move about being they are a communist country?

  • Jagdeep

    Can I get the last minute flight deals for flight cuba Americans?

  • Wenew

    If you are planning a trip particularly abroad then you should use online facility to reserve the ticket, you can use the facility at home and can pay ticket fee through visa cards, airline also provide certain discounts you reserve the ticket online.

  • Stefanie

    How is August for going ? Can I purchase from Mexico airport itself ? I once had my bank card shut down trying to buy a ticket online and am wary . So , I’m thinking of going straight to second country . I suppose one would have to keep a copy of their itinerary (written on paper) just in case . This is just plain frustrating .

  • Satyaseeds

    I’ve been trying to get tickets from Cancun to Havana, but with no luck. I keep getting error messages on all the Cuban and Mexican airline sites once I try to purchase. I read that its possible to get tickets through calling the airline directly or purchasing a ticket through a travel agency which cost more.