Havana Airport

by Female Abroad


You've arrived!

Maybe you are slowly humming "Havana ooo nah nah" to yourself as you wait to exit the plane or maybe you just want to get off and stretch your legs, either way, you've made it and are here to take in all that Cuba has to offer.

After you've deplaned, customs is the first line up that you will get to spend time in (it won't be the last!). This room is a musty, windowless reminder of the 80's with multiple lines and signs to tell you which line is for who. Make sure that you stand in the right one or they will point you to the back. Our line took us about 45 minutes to get through. There is no place to sit or buy drinks or food so be prepared. There is a male and female bathroom. The female bathroom has 2 stalls but rarely ever any toilet paper or paper towel so make sure you pack some. Also, don't expect to sit on a toilet seat.

Once you get through the line you will be met by a customs officer behind the desk. No matter how many people are in the group, this is to be done one person at a time. They will ask you the usual questions (First time here? How long are you staying?) before taking your photo and waiving you through the automated gate. The first part is done.

After the guard you will be met by airport security. Your items will have to go through an X-ray machine and you through a metal detector. Luckily you can leave your shoes on and your electronics as well as the liquids in your bag. Their English is not as strong as the first boarder guard you will come across so they might take apart your bag and rescan things. Don't worry, they'll hold up the line so you have time to put it back into your bag after they are done.

With the custom's part done, you will head down the hallway to grab your luggage before joining another line to get out and into the airport. This line will also go by two people who are collecting your customs declarations. They don't check them, just grab them.

Now before you get rushing out those doors, you need to get some cash. The airport is the easiest (and one of the cheapest) places to convert you money into CUC or CUP so see if this is something that would work for you.

If this is the moment where you have realized that the line to change your currency is massive, pop up stairs to the Arrivals Hall instead (second floor). Once up here you will find it less chaotic than downstairs and surprisingly quiet. Once up here you can head to the bathroom without any lines and head over to the money exchange office with little or no line (because everyone is using the one downstairs in departure....). Forgot to take out cash before coming? No problem there is an ATM that you can use as well (read my article about exchanging money & the one on using cards).

Since we had landed and were late for our cab pickup we did not have this luxury. We also had three suitcases and no elevator so hiking up the three flights of stairs was not something we were looking forward to. If you are going to head up to get your cash exchanged, be prepared for this. The arrivals area is actually quite small compared to departures so it can get overwhelming very fast!

If you can't find a taxi's then don't worry, just head to the taxi loop. All you need to do is walk out of the main exit (past all the people trying to pull you to their transportation), and turn left. Keep walking (about 1 minute) until you see a group of yellow taxi's. Head to the person that is yelling out "taxis! taxis!" (the dispatcher) and let them know where you are headed. Make sure to ask the dispatcher roughly what the cost to get to your location from there will be (if you asked at the info booth, make sure its similar. If it's not, barter). At this point the dispatcher will pick a cab who will then drive up to the curb beside you.

Before you jump into the cab, reconfirm the fare with the driver. If it is roughly around what you were quoted then either barter to get it exact or just accept it and jump in (ex. Vedado from the airport should be about CUC 30).

Now you are on your way into Havana! Hasta luego!


When it comes to departing Havana, you will need to know which terminal (basically the country you are flying to) but not every airline carrier is listed on every sign so don't be worried if you don't see your carrier on the first sign. Once you get dropped off and head in, you will realize that the terminals are one big room with a few shops. Find your carrier (just like in a usual airport) and line up. If you are not the first person then expect to be lined up with people lining up outside of the predetermined waiting rows. There are a lot of people who have never flown before so they don't know the procedure and there are also those that are used to lining up until a place has been opened and they are told to move into the quene. Don't get frustrated, just wait. No mater if you are in the predetermined line or the line to get into that line, you are all going to the same place.

As you are queneing to check in you may notice signs that say you are not allowed to fly with liquids, you are, just like any other airport as long as the bottles are under 10mL and equal no more than 1L. I even check with the check in desk on this one and they said that the signs were wrong but they were not in a rush to change them.

Security was another line. The first part being the same set up as the begin of customs; a person behind a desk who takes your photo and they will collect your tourist card before waiving you through an automated gate. The next step is again, the Xray machine and the metal detector. No need to remove anything and once you are through that, it is down an escalator to the gates. Along the way are a few tourist shops and closer to the gates are a couple of bars.

Not much going on here and the excitement was the birds that got into the airport. The bathrooms on this side had toilet paper and seats but no running water. Check out my blog for more on that story. Announcements for boarding were done in Spanish, followed by English and everything is on TV sets so you can keep up to date while waiting. Hope that you enjoyed your Cuba or are going to enjoy.

Drop me a line and let me know how it went!