Go to the bottom of this post for an update  about flight information added on 6/21.

SF Gate, home of the San Francisco Chronicle, recently reported this exciting news about traveling to Cuba:

San Francisco Bay Area organizations offering education-based trips to Cuba will now be able to fly out of Oakland International Airport, which has been approved as one of only 4 charter flight gateways to the Caribbean island.

Airport officials announced today that Oakland received authorization by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to offer nonstop charter passenger service to Cuba. Before this, the only other airport with the authorization to do that were Miami, Los Angeles and New York’s John F. Kennedy.

Before you get too excited, however, it doesn’t change the rules about who can travel legally to Havana and under what circumstances. You still have to go through an authorized education-travel operator, or person-to-person programs, such as Global Exchange or the Los Angeles-based Cuba Travel Services. This approval only makes it easier for those organizations to offer direct flights.

Read the complete article here.

Another news article, this one from Contra Costa Times, issued this warning about the news:

Travel restrictions requiring that the trip be for academic, religious, humanitarian or newsgathering purposes will still apply. However, these restrictions were loosened earlier this year by the Obama administration as part of an ongoing effort to make Cuba travel easier.

Read the complete Contra Costa Times article here, and this blog post Change in U.S. Cuba Travel Policy: What Does this Mean for You?

Traveling to Cuba may not be as simple as say, hopping a flight to Disneyworld, but this new development will make it easier for us here at Global Exchange to bring many folks to Cuba. Visit our website to learn more about traveling to Cuba.

Flights from Oakland to Cuba are tentatively set to start in December 2011, but possibly sooner. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Travel to Cuba with Global Exchange: Now is the perfect time to plan your trip to Cuba, since it’s getting easier for us to organize trips.  We’d love for you to join us on one of our Reality Tours to Cuba.

The best time to go to Cuba? New Years! Hopefully Oakland flights will be up and running by then. Everyone I have ever known that has gone on a Global Exchange New Years trip to Cuba has come back…different. In a good way. Like they just went on a trip of a lifetime. To learn more about our New Years trips to Cuba this year, go here.

Save $150 on Cuba Trip: In honor of this recent exciting new travel development, Global Exchange Reality Tours is offering a $150 DISCOUNT when you register for one of our Cuba trips by August 15th, 2011. Simply mention this blog post to receive your discount.

So what are you waiting for? Cuba awaits you.

Update Added on 6/21/2011: Since this blog post was published, there has been an update about flights to Cuba….Just announced: flights to Cuba from Los Angeles will begin in mid July. Know what that means? Our plans for Reality Tours New Years trips to Cuba are moving forward as planned. Yippee!