How to Pass Muster for Travel to Cuba

For Americans, there are legal requirements that they must meet to travel to Cuba. This post clarifies what they are, how to meet them, and what records must be kept.

American, JetBlue, Spirit and other airlines are cleared to begin scheduled service to the island, some as early as September. JetBlue will have fares as low as $99 (or 3500 points).

JetBlue Will Be First U.S. Airline Back to Cuba

Fly the Inaugural Flight to Cuba for Just 3,500 Points!

NYC – Costa Rica Just $261 r/t on JetBlue

JetBlue is offering a round-trip fare of just $261 from New York to Costa Rica. This is for travel in September and October.

Limited availability, limited schedule. Costa Rica has reported cases of the Zika virus.

How to Get Double Signup Bonus on JetBlue Credit Card

The JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard normally offers a 30,000 point signup bonus. This blog post describes a method of, apparently, doubling that bonus to 60,000 JetBlue points.

The method isn’t guaranteed to work, and will probably quit working as soon as JetBlue discovers it.

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JetBlue offers award travel for very few points.

USA to Ecuador $282+ Round-Trip

Round-trip air fares to Quito from Fort Lauderdale: $282, Washington DC: $348, Philadelphia: $352, Hartford: $358, New York: $372, and Cleveland: $392 on JetBlue.

Travel September to December 2016.

Quito is located right on the equator, so it has no hot/cold seasons. It is located at a high elevation, so the temperature is always mild…but take a wrap if you want to visit the higher altitude parts of the city.

Ecuador’s currency is tied to the U.S. dollar, so you do not need to change currency.

From time to time IHG will include a Quito hotel on its PointBreaks list, which is how I was able to do a multi-day visit to the city for only $35 per day.

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JetBlue offers award travel for very few points.

Six Airlines Approved for Flights to Cuba

Six American airlines have been approved by the US government for scheduled flights to Cuba.

Six U.S. Airlines Approved for Cuba Service

The six are American Airlines, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, and Sun Country. They will fly to Cuban cities other than Havana, but in the future some may be approved to that popular destination.

The origination cities in the US are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia.

Americans continue to face significant obstacles to Cuban travel, due to the continuing “12 reasons” rule. Abolition of these restrictions may depend upon Congressional action.

Status Match / Challenge Summary for Numerous Airlines and Hotel Chains

If you have status on one airline or hotel chain, you may be able to have another airline or hotel chain match it. So, for example, if you are Gold on American Airlines and are a nobody on AirBerlin, you can request a status match on AB before your next flight and receive the privileges that your new (temporary) AB status grants.

This post from Dan’s Deals is a very useful summary.

The airlines covered in the blog post are AirBerlin, Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Turkish, United and Virgin America.

The hotel chains covered are Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood.

If you have any airline/hotel status and plan to fly or stay in any of those named brands, you are in luck!

Valuable Credit-Card Bonuses Other Than Miles and Points

Credit card bonuses are the driving force behind the miles-and-points game that many play. Card issuers offer huge numbers of frequent-flyer miles and hotel loyalty points to those who sign up for and use certain credit cards. But, the signup bonuses aren’t the only benefit of those cards. This blog post lists nine more:

Of the nine listed, I believe that these are the most valuable to many frequent flyers:

– American and JetBlue airlines and IHG hotels, a 10% rebate on awards
– American Airlines, reduced mileage awards on certain (changing) routes
– Several airlines, free in-flight wi-fi
– United Airlines increased award availability
– United Airlines upgrades on award travel
– Virgin America, waived cancellation and change fees

The blog post linked above has the details and tells which credit cards give which benefits.

Credit cards

Airlines Fighting Hard for Permission to Fly to Cuba

This summer the U.S. government will award permission for 30 flights per day from the United States to Cuba…20 to Havana, 10 to smaller cities. Airlines applying for these need to tell why they are a good choice, and why the other airlines are not.

So, the airlines have come out swinging.

JetBlue says it is the “leading domestic airline at JFK,” a claim which Delta described as “demonstrably false.”

Southwest applied for 9 of the 20 daily flights to Havana, saying it can offer lower fares than its competitors…even lower than Spirit. American Airlines described some of Southwest’s application as “absurd.”

American also slammed Alaska Airlines application.

It looks like both fares and seat availability to Cuba will be low.