People to people research, I can truly say that is what occurred in Cuba this past weekend. Back in Havana like I left something – yes I was 😀. My first visit happened to be the same weekend Fidel Castro passed away and the country was in mourning. I couldn’t get the real vibe of the Cuban people. So when Spirit advertised $200 RT from Atlanta I jumped at another chance to experience the people of Habana.
The visa process was a bit different from my trip last November. With Spirit you can purchase your visa before you arrive at the airport from airline brokers and have it sent to your home via USPS or you can pick it up in Fort Lauderdale airport at gate H4 for $75. You also have the option of purchasing the visa at the airport without airline brokers for $100. I chose to keep the additional $25, I think you would agree.
The other change was the customs form. That was a hot mess on my last visit. I assume with the additional traffic from the USA, Cuba had to become a bit more organized. So instead of going through passport check, waiting about 30 minutes to go through a scanner and then obtaining a customs form to complete wherever you can find an open spot, you obtain the customs form at gate H4 as well. You can not board the flight to Cuba without checking in at gate H4.
To sum up what is obtained at gate H4 Fort Lauderdale Airport in order to board your flight:
- Visa if you opted to pickup at the airport or purchase at the airport
- Customs form
- Document indicating you have medical coverage included with the purchase of your airline ticket
- A red stamp on your boarding passing indicating you have all your travel documents
The flight to Habana is 45 minutes. It takes that long for me to drive from my house to Hartsfield Airport 😎. With the new process outlined above, you are finished with customs within 15 minutes as long as you do not have checked luggage – I never check luggage on international flights.
Now for the currency exchange. This process is still long. This was at least a 30 to 40 minute wait. I grabbed my CUCs and headed to their outside office for a wifi card. They allow you to purchase two (2) at the airport. In town you can obtain at least four (4) if they have them available.
Taxi… Take me to the other side of town 🎼. I had arranged for an airport transfer with my casa owner, Lissy, but never saw the guy she sent so I grabbed a taxi for the same price 30CUC. The ride is about 20 minutes from the airport. My casa was on Hombult in between Hospital and the Malecón. This is considered central Habana – Verdado, where I was steps away from the National Hotel.0