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Update: American Airlines has updated its policy to now allow award flights to originate in Cuba. This means that you can now book a one-way paid fare down to Cuba and a one-way award flight back.
Last night, American Airlines dropped the regulations requiring round-trip flights for travel to Cuba. Previously, both award and paid fares “must be booked round-trip with a 90-day maximum stay.” This verbiage was dropped from the website yesterday afternoon, and we were able to confirm with American Airlines that this is indeed a change in policy.
However, American Airlines will still not let you book a one-way flight from Cuba to the US — unless it’s combined with a one-way American Airlines flight from the US to Cuba.
Still this is an excellent change, as it frees up many alternative options. Want to fly American Airlines down to Cuba and another airline — like JetBlue — back? Now you can. Or, is there a cheap cash fare on the outbound and award availability on the return? As long as you book the two segments together, you can piece together a round-trip like this. Want to fly into one Cuban airport and back from another one? You’re now free to open-jaw your Cuban adventure!
If you want to see more than just Cuba on your vacation, you now have the option of flying one-way to Cuba before continuing on to another destination. This can be great for visiting Cuba and then taking a cheap hop down to Cancun (CUN), Kingston Jamaica (KIN) or over to Mexico City (MEX) — before taking a one-way award or paid fare back from there.
The first commercial American Airlines flight to Cuba is in less than two weeks. Although the flight is less than half full, there are still no award seats available. However, the one-way cash fare on the inaugural flight from Miami (MIA) to Cienfuego (CFG) is just $111, including taxes and fees. For the flight back, there are seven award seats open from CFG-MIA each day starting on September 15.
Before yesterday’s change, you’d be trapped into booking an expensive award on the inaugural flight — which one reader reported was being priced at 27,500 AAdvantage miles one-way — in order to use AAdvantage miles on the return.
When you call to book the award flight, you’ll have to ask the AAgent to combine the award flight booking with your AA outbound flight to Cuba. Otherwise, the AAgent won’t be able to sell you the one-way award ticket back from Cuba.
Remember: If you live in South Florida and will be flying out of Miami (MIA) to Cuba, your best mileage option is to use British Airways Avios. AA’s nonstop flights are still pricing at 4,500 Avios each way. This is almost 1/3 of the 12,500 miles you’d have to redeem when using the AAdvantage program. For both American Airlines and British Airways award tickets, you’ll have to call reservations to book your award flights.
Are you planning to fly AA to Cuba?
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