The last day in August marks the unofficial end of summer, and now also a historic day for U.S.-Cuba relations. JetBlue announced last month that it would be the first to send a passenger plane to Cuba in 2016, and at 10:58 a.m. today, fulfilled this promise.
With 150 passengers aboard an Airbus 320, Flight 387 was the first regularly scheduled commercial flight to land between the two countries in 55 years. USA Today reports that there was a ceremonial water cannon salute at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport upon departure, and that the flight was welcomed by Cuban dignitaries at Abel Santamaria Airport in Santa Clara when it landed.
Aboard the flight were regular passengers, airline executives, media, and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. Total flight time was just 51 minutes.
After decades of restrictions on American travel to Cuba, U.S. citizens can now fly there on one of 10 airlines and book flights online from 12 different U.S. cities, including Los Angeles. There could be as many as 110 flights per day from the U.S.
JetBlue is starting out their service from Ft. Lauderdale to Santa Clara with three flights per week, and will increase to daily service on October 1. Come November the airline will also offer daily flights form Ft. Lauderdale to Camaguey and Holguin, as well as flights to Havana from Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and New York. American Airlines will begin its Cuba service on September 7 from Miami International Airport.
For JetBlue flights, fares start at $99 one-way and include health insurance, which is required by the Cuban government, as well as a free checked bag.
American travelers still need a visa to access Cuba, which can be purchased at the airport for $50 on the day of your flight. Visitors also must qualify for one of the 12 travel categories pre-approved by the U.S. government, for example education, cultural, religious, and business trips. For convenience, JetBlue includes pre-approval paperwork in their booking process.
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