Special authority charters are the only way for American’s to legally visit Cuba, due to the U.S embargo on the island. But what does that actually mean, and how does it effect your average traveler?
Unfortunately, your average traveler can’t book a special authority charter to Cuba as they are only able to fly people who have been given license for the trip. In general, the types of trips that are permitted include:
- Religious activities
- Academic studies
- Professional research
- Visiting of immediate relatives
- Athletic competitions
- Humanitarian aid
This isn’t the kind of think you can fudge on a form. You will be required to provide a great deal of documentation when applying, to prove that your trip truly falls into an approved category.
You can get full details on all the Cuban sanctions, as well as the travel restrictions on the Office of Foreign Asset Control website. The travel documents are about half-way down the page, and include PDF files with all the application information if you want to get one of these licenses.
Most special authority charters fly out of Miami, but a few operate from New York City as well. From Miami, you can fly with Continental Connection, American Eagle, Sky King or Vision Airlines. If you want to leave from New York, you’re limited to Sky King or Vision Airlines. Regardless of which airline you fly with, all special authority flights arrive at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, at Terminal 2.
As mentioned, this is the only legal way for Americans to visit Cuba, but there are other options for U.S travel to Cuba if you don’t mind traveling through a 3rd country in the process (which is what many travelers do).
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