A Humorous Airport Administrator

Aeropuerto-terminal-IIHAVANA TIMES — Journalist Fernando Ravsberg describes his astonishment at the statement by Leovigildo Jones, vice-director of the Jose Marti International Airport, who justified the closing off of the facility to non-travelers by saying that many airports in the world do the same.

Ravsberg asks for the names of such airports as in his many travels he has never seen one.

“Leovigildo also had the humor to tell us: ‘we shouldn’t forget that the airport is the first impression that a tourist will have of the country.’ He and his subordinates should be reminded of this when they make a traveler waste three hours before being able to leave the airport.”

4 thoughts on “A Humorous Airport Administrator

  • The airport in Veradero is no palace either. When I arrived, the ceiling panels were hanging from thin wires, threatening to drop on the cringing tourists in the gloomy hall below. While there were no attractive signs advertising beaches, there were large crude posters exhorting the tourists to Free the Cuban Five! (in Spanish & English). I doubt if 1 in 100 of the Canadian tourists had any idea who these people were.

    On the way out of Cuba, the process was even worse. The hall was crammed with busloads of drunk tourists, the wait was interminable, we were all forced to pay an extortionate “exit tax”, and the only helpful staff were offering to move desperate tourists through the lines faster if they paid $60 to go to the executive lounge.

    One particularly drunk Canadian lost his temper and started a fight, which summoned several Cuban police, including one guy who looked like a gorilla in a uniform. They dragged off the drunken idiot and awarded him an extra night of hospitality in a Cuban jail.

  • How true. El salon de espera has all the ambiance of a DMV in Miami.

  • When one arrives in Jose Marti, after deplaning, and you go down the escalator into the passport control area, it’s depressing. The lighting is subdued, it’s always very stuffy and the immigration officials wandering about are, as you say, stony-faced. Even New York’s JFK, which is the world’s most ‘impersonal’ major airport I have ever seen still manages to convey an ambiance of something less than the gulag feeling I get when I arrive at Jose Marti. There are no “Bienvenido a Cuba!” signs or taped messages in several languages welcoming visitors. No big plasma screens advertising Varadero nor anything else that sends a message “Have fun during your stay in Cuba”. If Cuba hopes to compete with Jamaica or the Virgin Islands as a tourist destination, they have a long way to go. A coat of paint would be a great start.

  • Yes it’s true that any international airport is the first impression people have of the Country they are entering. In the case of Jose Marti, the ‘Comandante’s’ working on passport and visa control must have at least a BSc if not PhD in being stony faced. Perhaps they are threatened with dismissal if they allow themselves just the hint of a smile.
    As for the terminal for internal flights, to call it shambolic would be an understatement. As the saying goes, ‘Once bitten, twice shy’. In future, I’d rather hitch hike from Havana to Holguin rather than endure the farce at the domestic terminal.

Comments are closed.