Adding on Cuba?!?
Going to Cuba has always been at the top of my
bucket list. I have heard so many great things about the country and I am terribly afraid that a lot will change as soon as hoards of Americans begin flooding their shores. With the U.S. continuing to ease travel restrictions, it is only a matter of time before it becomes the next tourism hotspot.
Today’s news about the latest restrictions to be lifted really got me thinking and that is a dangerous thing. I know with my time commitments that it will be difficult to schedule a dedicated Cuba trip anytime soon unless I spend a ton of money for a charter flight. The only opportunities to use miles require you to leave the U.S. first.
Tack Cuba on to my Mileage Run!
As I was reading today’s Cuba news, a crazy idea came to mind. I am going to be flying to Panama and a little airline called Copa flies directly from there to Havana. (And I am even an elite with them.) So the idea was there, but could I make the flights work with miles? The answer is yes!
My previous mileage run itinerary (that I hadn’t booked yet) only allowed for one day in Panama. Since time is tight for me, that is all I allotted, but of course that doesn’t leave time for Cuba. So after shifting some things around, I searched and was able to place another itinerary on hold with an almost 4 day layover in Panama. (It is even $50 less than the previous one.) This would give me time to see the canal and some of the city and also allow me to fly to Cuba for 2 days. Perhaps I’ll only get a small taste of the country, but it will be a taste nonetheless.
Finding Mileage Options to Cuba
Next, I started looking at mileage options from Panama to Cuba. Avianca Lifemiles only charges 20K miles roundtrip in economy on the route, but unfortunately I discovered that one direction only has business class availability while the other has economy. Since one-way business class costs 20K Lifemiles (which is my entire balance), I needed to find a way back!
Thankfully several other Star Alliance carriers allow you to book flights to Cuba. Since I already have a balance of Singapore Krisflyer miles stashed away from a Suites flight I was going to book, I called them and was able to verify it would be 17,500 miles one-way in economy. Score!
Tallying it Up
The cost of the roundtrip from PTY-HAV will be 20,000 Lifemiles (which I had no real plan for) + 17,500 Krisflyer miles (which are easily replaced via transfer from a number of flexible currencies) + $92.42 in taxes and fees. In cash, a roundtrip on the same flights in economy would be $675.30. The actual cost of the flights is $1280.40 since one of my legs is in business which is much more expensive.
At this point I have a few feelers out to friends I know who have been to Havana so I can nail down the best transport and lodging options. While the American Airlines itinerary to Panama is now on hold through tomorrow, availability on the Copa flights to Cuba could change at any time. I will most likely be booking this by tomorrow if I do, since I honestly can’t see a reason why I shouldn’t.
Once everything is nailed down I will create a how-to post showing my search processes and such, but I am so excited about the idea that I wanted to write about it now. What do you think? Is it a crazy idea or does it just make my mileage run to Panama even better? Let me know in the comments.