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U.S. Commercial Flight Lands In Cuba For First Time In 50 Years

Dorathy Gass

On September 7th, the JetBlue Flight 387 landed in Cuba, making history, as the first U.S. direct commercial flight into that country in over 50 years. It is the latest sign, in the ever-warming relationship that continues to be fostered between the U.S. and Cuba. The two nations began restoring their ties last year.

According to the United States Department of Justice, the flight that flew into Santa Clara, Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida is soon to be one of many, and it is being said that, at most, about 110 daily flights will be operating by U.S. airlines. The department went on to state that eight carries in total will start to arrive to Havana, Cuba’s capital, come the fall of this year. The airlines noted are:

Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Frontier Airlines
JetBlue Airways
Southwest Airlines
Spirit Airlines
United Airlines

CNN advised that the department noted air carriers will offer service to Havana from Florida’s Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami, and Tampa cities; as well as Charlotte, Atlanta, North Carolina, Houston, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Still, don’t start packing your swim suit, flip flops, shorts, tanning lotion, and sandals just yet; as the travel ban on U.S. residents visiting Cuba is still very much in effect. As tourism to the island is illegal, there are 12 categories where U.S. residents receive ‘authorized travel’ to Cuba. An affidavit also needs to be signed by all Americans boarding on planes headed to Cuba, swearing that their travel itinerary falls within these now allowed categories. Some include: education, religious, as well as humanitarian reasons.

Still, now that some travel is allowed, according to travel officials, Cuba has witnessed an increase in American visitors, at approximately 93,000; which is close to double the number from the year before.

While this step is a huge one, officials in Cuba believe the embargo to American sanctions need to lifted, in order to offer full travel freedom between the two nations.

As Eduardo Rodríguez, Cuban Vice Minister of Transportation stated recently that establishing regular flights is a good first step. Still, he goes on to note the restrictions around the blockade are still in effect, which hinders U.S. citizens from coming to Cuba as tourists.

Onto some positive news regarding safety, Cuba has adopted U.S. airport security requirements, such as the removal of shoes check, and review of liquids; which is also a good step in the right direction in terms of international travel safety.