Nonstop Flights From OAK Abound

Traveling across the United States and the world has gotten a lot easier.


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Parc de la Ciutadella

Photo by iStock/EunikaSopotnicka

Feel like sipping espresso on the Via del Corso, tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain, and taking daytrips to Florence and Pompeii?

It seems so real, yet so much like a daydream. So close, yet so far away. So tempting, yet ... so hard to reach.

But what if it wasn’t? What if you learned — and you’re about to, because it’s true — that you could fly nonstop to Rome from right here in the East Bay?

Norwegian Air launched service from Oakland International Airport to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport this February. The first nonstop service linking any Bay Area airport to the Italian capital since 2001, it joins Norwegian’s already remarkably reasonably priced array of nonstop flights from Oakland to Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and London.

Initiated over the last four years, those routes join the 60-plus nonstop worldwide destinations now reachable from Oakland International, with more in the works.

“The word is getting out,” said Bryant L. Francis, the airport’s director of aviation.

“I’ve had multiple people approach me to say how happy they are to make the short drive to Oakland in order to take an affordable nonstop flight.”

Last year, British Airways launched nonstop Oakland-to-London service, and Spirit Airlines launched nonstop flights linking Oakland to Baltimore and Detroit. Those 60-plus other nonstops out of Oakland include Delta to Atlanta, American to Dallas/Fort Worth, and — starting this month — Allegiant Air to Memphis.

Want a lei? Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines run nonstop flights to Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Southwest Airlines links Oakland with Wichita, Salt Lake City, and many other airports nationwide — and now beyond. Launched last year, nonstop flights from Oakland to Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta International Airport and Los Cabos International Airport became Southwest’s first flights to any destination outside the United States.

“As we constantly look at new opportunities to connect Bay Area travelers with fun and exciting places in their lives, these Mexico beach destinations have long topped the list,” said Dave Harvey, Southwest’s managing director of business development.

Oakland, Harvey said, was “our 13th gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean from the mainland in February.” A new bilateral agreement that went into effect last August provided “additional opportunities to bring our low fares and unmatched value to numerous additional U.S.-Mexico routes,” he said.

And more nonstops are ... well, en route. This spring, Southwest launched daily service to New York/Newark Liberty International Airport. And this July, Southwest will begin nonstop service from Oakland to San Antonio, Orlando, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis.

It’s increasingly easy to fly away without first having to cross a bay. “We hear all the time — in person and over social media — just how much people love to fly Oakland because of its convenience and reliability,” Francis said.

“Our airfield layout means fewer delays and cancellations related to inclement weather, and the terminal adjacent parking and BART access make getting here easy. There are even those who say that their choice to take a particular vacation was made because of the great nonstop fares out of Oakland.”

“I’ve avoided SFO whenever I can for years because of the weather delays. SFO is often fogged in, while Oakland is business as usual,” said Alameda resident and frequent traveler Elisa Williams. “Oakland has always been convenient, and now the prices have been fantastic. At less than $350 round trip with taxes, it’s cheaper to Stockholm than it usually is to Seattle. I’ve done two trips to Stockholm and three roundtrips on Norwegian from Oakland to London. It’s also great for transfers. I flew direct to London and transferred on Easy Jet to Marrakesh. It was a work opportunity I wouldn’t have been able to accept without the cheap flights from Oakland.

“But what’s really great,” she added, “is when friends from London come to visit. Instead of them taking BART from SFO, I pick them up from Oakland and whisk them directly to Faction to watch the sun set over the San Francisco skyline. He said, ‘Remind me why it’s been so long since we visited Elisa?’ This year will be their third annual visit.”

Inaugurated in 2014, “the BART train into Oakland had more than a million riders in its first year. BART did a great job building it, and customers really enjoy the almost-futuristic feel of the train, its integration into the BART system, and its delivery right to the front door of the airport,” Francis said.

“With the previous AirBART bus, travelers had to exit the BART station, have exact change, and handle luggage on a busy street. Now, they can simply cross a platform and meet a beautiful elevated train every five to seven minutes.”

Owned by the Port of Oakland, the 2,600-acre, four-runway airport currently serves over a dozen different airlines — including familiar major players but also surprises such as Boutique Air, which, in fall 2016, began regular service on Swiss-built single-engine Pilatus PC-12 turboprop planes between Oakland International and Merced Regional Airport.

“As our international business grows, we are working very hard to ensure that the traveling public — both in the U.S. and abroad — are aware of Oakland’s prime geography,” Francis said.

The airport’s marketing team has begun working with various airlines to publicize the Bay Area and Oakland itself in some of the cities now reachable nonstop from here. Recent publicity efforts, Francis said, include the creation of “an Alcatraz-themed ‘escape room’ in London and wrapping buses in Barcelona with ads for Oakland.”

So someone strolling down La Rambla or ordering tapas in the shadow of La Sagrada Familia might see one such bus and wonder: Can I fly to that sparkling harbor city from this one ... nonstop?

Well, yes.

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