Passenger Plane Service to Cuba Begins

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For the first time in more than 50 years, a U.S. commercial flight has touched down in Cuba. More flights will soon follow.

The United States and Cuba are close, at least based on proximity. But until recently, the neighboring countries seemed worlds apart.

One 45-minute flight on Wednesday changed that. For the first time in more than a half-century, a commercial flight from the U.S. landed on Cuban soil.

“We’ll be #Havana good time in not time,” quipped JetBlue on its Instagram page, advertising its new flights to the island nation.

JetBlue made history on Aug. 31 with a successful inaugural flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Santa Clara, which is located in central Cuba, says ABC News. Although the flight was largely made up of airline executives, media members and government folks — like Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — ABC says it did have about 60 “regular travelers.”

Allowing commercial flights between the two countries is another step in America’s effort to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. Carnival Cruise Lines began sailing to Cuba earlier this year.

According to The New York Times, the relaxed travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba are a game changer for Americans.

“Until now, people flying to Cuba had to book charter flights, which required passengers to arrive at the airport four hours before takeoff. Prices were high, lines were long and flights were often hours late. The document review process was time-consuming, while passengers stood in separate lines to check in, check bags, weigh bags and pay for the checked luggage.”

Although Americans still cannot travel to Cuba as tourists, they can qualify to fly there if their visit fits within 12 authorized categories.

John S. Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, told the Times that six airlines have been approved for passenger flights to nine Cuban cities. So you can expect more flights in the future.

What do you think of the eased travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba? Sound off below or on Facebook.

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