I wrote with some glee about the change in U.S. policy toward Cuba and what this meant for travel. Since that December 2014 announcement, more diplomatic breakthroughs have occurred, including the recent re-opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Havana. But one thing has not changed — American Airlines still embargoes Cuba travel in its AAdvantage program, so good luck using your miles to get to good cigars and classic cars.
A Norwegian client wished to use his AA miles visit Cuba and Award Expert found space on Iberia via Madrid to Havana and back. What I thought would be a quick call to the Executive Platinum Desk turned into a marathon session of futility.
The first agent could not find the space using her award search tool and found it only be consulting the schedule and finding the flight did indeed have the requisite U-class space for a business class award. But each time and each method she tried to book it with failed. She put me on hold to consult with her supervisors and came back to inform me that it just was not possible — that the AA system is blocking Cuba.
Never one to take no for answer, I made several additional calls and received slightly different variations on “illegal” and “impossible” but the bottom line was that I could not book the space, which is a shame. The client went to SE Asia instead.
Let’s hope that this Cuban travel embargo using your AA miles is soon lifted.