The Havana Airport is an interesting airport to say the least. I had the opportunity to fly into HAV via Southwest Airlines in December of 2016. We deplaned outside without a Jetway similar to other Caribbean airports. At first I thought I should put up my phone because a lot of airports don’t allow phones in the airport especially around customs. Phones were allowed and you can even take pics in front of the plane. Here’s what else you can expect with the airport and Terminal 2:
- Some of the merchants inside the departures area take U.S. cash.
- There are few souvenir shops with limited sizes and products. I saw better items on Obispo street in Old Havana and regretted not buying.
- There is a duty free in the departures area. It looked to be 2-3 times more than the purchasing the local rum in the city.
- There are several terminals but no signs that tell you which airlines correspond with which terminal. As of now the terminals are:
- Terminal 1 – Domestic Terminal: It used to be the international terminal, it’s now used primarily for domestic flights.
- Terminal 2 – US Charters Terminal: It handles mainly scheduled Special Authority charter flights to/from the United States.
- Terminal 3 – International Terminal
This is the largest terminal and the most modern. It handles flights for more than 25 international airlines, serving approximately 60 destinations in more than 30 countries.
- Terminal 5 (not a typo, where is 4?) – Caribbean Terminal:
It’s mainly used by the Cuban airlines AeroCaribbean (domestic and regional flights) and Aerotaxi (domestic charters).
- Be prepared to be wanded down and your carry on bag will be screened upon arrival and departure.
- Bathrooms have no tissue in the stalls. I was handed some by the attendant and then asked for money. I always pack my own tissue.
- Food is scarce. Think traditional ham and cheese (Jamon y queso) or just cheese sandwiches. Some snacks are in the duty free. I pack my own snacks lol.
- Know some Spanish or download an offline translator. This is really a tip for all of Cuba travel but it hits you as soon as you step off the plane.
- There were a lot of forms to fill out and a lot and confusion on where to drop the forms. Pay attention to a kiosk when you pass customs and get your bag upon arrival.
- If you arrive in terminal 2 (from the U.S.) the money exchange counter is actually on the departures side. We had to exit building and walk to the right and go in. The line was long as they had one person changing money for the whole flight and also airport employees could cut in at any time to change money. This was the MOST frustrating part. It took us two HOURS!
- For Departures especially with Southwest, you have to have your boarding pass stamped at the gate. Once you board you have to hand your boarding pass to agent before getting on the plane. This is IMPORTANT. The plane could not leave without all boarding passes accounted for. Ours was held up for an hour due to one missing pass!
- It may look crowded with lines on the outside of terminal 2 but it is filled with locals waiting for their loved ones with signs!
- WiFi (or wee-fee) is unreliable. I used card that I purchased in the city for $3 for one hour. It dropped every 5 minutes and continued to eat at the time. This can be said about most of the WiFi in the city.
- Boarding for departures was done with changing of signs. You can not really hear anything so pay attention.
- The airport is 8-10 miles from Havana center city. Expect to pay 20-30 CUC. Negotiate fare first! If you’re staying in a rental, check with your host for potential transfer options,
This was my Havana Airport experience. It was pretty exhausting but maybe it will be better after a they work out the kinks from the increased U.S. to HAV flights. How was your experience with the Havana Airport? Any questions? Comment below.
Until Next Time HAVANA!
Check out what you need to know before booking your flight to Cuba!