You Can Now Book Flights From Philly to Cuba

For as little as $168 each way.

You could soon be here. (Photo via iStock.)

You could soon be here. (Photo via iStock.)

For decades, travelers who wanted to have a look at Cuba had to jump through all kinds of hoops to travel there. But now that President Obama has removed many of the longstanding travel restrictions associated with the still-Communist island nation, passenger jet service has begun.

According to the New York Times, Wednesday morning’s JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Cuba was the first passenger jet flight in history between the two countries, because the last flights occurred on propeller planes more than 50 years ago.

More airlines are expected to announce scheduled flights soon, but as it stands right now, regular service on JetBlue between the United States and Cuba will ramp up in the fall.

A quick check of the JetBlue reservations site revealed that travelers can fly from Philadelphia to Santa Clara, Cuba, via Fort Lauderdale beginning on October 30th. Those flights start at $168 each way. Service to Holguin, Cuba, comes next, with flights available as of November 11th, according to the JetBlue site. Those flights also start at $168 each way. And then comes Camagüey. Those flights are available beginning on December 21st, and a seat will set you back anywhere from $249 to $622 each way over Christmas break.

American, Frontier and Southwest are among the other airlines that have been approved to sell U.S.-Cuba flights, and more approved airlines are expected to be announced shortly.

Previously, anyone wanting to travel from the United States to Cuba had to do so through a third-party company, which arranged for charter flights, and the number of categories of people eligible for travel were few.

Now, travelers are able to book their own flights, and inexpensively. There are still restrictions on who can fly from the United States to Cuba, but the number of categories has increased to 12.

According to the U.S. Government, these are the categories of authorized travel, taken from the United States Embassy in Havana:

Family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

You might technically be breaking the law if you’re traveling to Cuba and you’re not in one of those categories — and if federal agents show up at your door, you’re on your own, friend. But we know more than a few tourists who managed to get around the restrictions, and that was before Obama made it easier. Just ask around, and you’ll find yourself sipping daiquiris in no time.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.