Havana to Los Angeles & Sydney
today was my last day in Cuba. My flight from Havana was scheduled to leave at 5:55pm, and I was advised to allow plenty of time, s I arranged a 12:30pm airport transfer from the guesthouse. So the morning was free for a last walk around Old Havana.
I made my way back towards the guesthouse and noticed that the church near the guesthouse was open, so I took a look inside.
back at the guesthouse, I had already checked out of the room, but I was able to have a shower and change my clothes before heading to the airport. The car arrived just after 12:30pm, and the ride to the airport was approximately 30 minutes and cost CUC25. When I made my way into the terminal, I couldn't see my flight on the departure board. I eventually found someone who spoke English, and it turns out my flight was leaving from another terminal, several kilometres away. The first taxi driver I found didn't speak English, and drove away without me. The second taxi driver didn't understand what I was saying, but he found someone who spoke English, and agreed to take me to the other terminal. Cost was another CUC5.
Made it to the terminal, and found the Alaskan Airlines check-in. I was early enough to be at the front of the queue when the gate opened. They then announced USA passport holders only. I couldn't see any other queue, and when I finally attracted an officials attention, they were surprised that a non-USA resident would be on the flight. After a long examination of my passport and visa, I was allowed to check in my luggage, and get a boarding pass.
I then joined a queue to convert my Cuban currency into Euros, and after waiting in a sizeable line, I discovered the kiosk was only selling Cuban currency, & I would have to go through customs to get to the purchase kiosk. I got through customs with no problems, and joined the currency exchange kiosk before the queue got to large. I then had a couple of hours to fill in before the flight. As the afternoon wore on, some heavy rain and thunderstorms occurred. By 5:00pm, there was no sign of my flight, and other flights were beginning to board. Turns out my Alaskan Airlines plane didn't land in Havana until after its schedule departure time, but it had a reasonably quick turn around, and we were boarded and on the runway by 8:00pm. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm hit, and the plane was moved of the runway until the storm passed. We eventually left at 8:30pm, which was 2.5 hours after scheduled departure.
I was scheduled to have a 3 hour turnaround in Los Angeles, during which time I would have to get from the plane to the terminal (by bus), collect my luggage, go through customs, and move to another terminal. Needless to say, by the time I did all that, the Virgin Airlines flight was long gone, and the Virgin desk was closed. I couldn't find any help desk or officials, and the next Virgin Australia flight was the following evening. After going on the internet, I was unable to locate any flights that I could get on, so I looked for some accommodation for the night. After a few false starts, I eventually got into a room at 2:00am.
The room was reasonably expensive, but it beat sleeping in the terminal, and the room was very comfortable. After a leisurely breakfast, I got the shuttle bus back to the airport. There was still no-one at the Virgin Australia desk, and a check on the internet indicated I wouldn't get a seat for another day. I located a seat on a Delta airlines flight departing at 10:30 that night. After locating the right terminal, and joining a massive and slow moving check-in queue, I eventually got a boarding pass about 2:00pm, I then considered doing a bus tour of LA for the rest of the afternoon, but I was tired, depressed, and didn't want to risk missing this flight, so I sat in the terminal for several hours until boarding time. The flight was full, and got into Sydney about 6:30am on Anzac day. After passing through luggage claim and customs fairly quickly, I then caught a train from the airport to home.. I was tired, but pleased to be home, albeit a day later than planned.