After 50 years, commercial flights resume to Cuba Airport workers receive JetBlue flight 387 holding a United States, and a Cuban national flag, on the airport tarmac in Santa Clara, Cuba, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. JetBlue 387, the first commercial flight between the U.S. and Cuba in more than a half century, landed in the central city of Santa Clara on Wednesday morning, re-establishing regular air service severed at the height of the Cold War. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
After 50 years, commercial flights resume to Cuba
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The first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century landed in the central city of Santa Clara on August 31. The flight established regular air service, which ended at the height of the Cold War.
 
Cheers broke out in the cabin of JetBlue flight 387. The passengers were mostly airline executives, U.S. government officials and journalists, with a sprinkling of Cuban-American families and U.S. travelers. They were given gift bags with Cuban cookbooks, commemorative luggage tags and Cuban flags. The visitors were encouraged to wave the flags.
 
The arrival of the flight to Santa Cruz from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, opens a new era of U.S.-Cuba travel. Now, about 300 flights a week will connect the U.S. with the island nation. It has been cut off from most Americans. That is because of a 55-year-old trade embargo on Cuba. There also has been a formal ban on U.S. citizens visiting the island as tourists.
 
The flights will go to Havana, the country's capital, and Santa Cruz in Cuba.
 
"Seeing the American airlines landing routinely around the island will drive a sense of openness, integration and normality. That has a huge psychological impact," said Richard Feinberg. He is author of a new book. It is titled, "Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy."
 
The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement that American airlines will serve Havana from several airports.  They include Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa.
 
Airlines are obligated to begin flights within 90 days, or right after Thanksgiving, but they may begin earlier. Delta said it would launch daily service December 1. Delta flights will be from Atlanta, Miami and New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Flights will go on sale September 10.
 
Spirit also said it aims to run twice-a-day flights to Havana, beginning December 1. Spirit will fly from Fort Lauderdale.
 
The restart of commercial travel between the two countries is one of the most important steps in President Barack Obama's plan to normalize relations with Cuba. Historians disagree on the exact date of the last commercial flight. It appears to have been after Cuba banned incoming flights. That was during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
 
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Twitter that the last commercial flight was in 1961.
 
On August 31, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes addressed passengers on board the 150-seat Airbus A320 headed to Cuba. The plane was staffed by a specially selected five-member crew. They were Cuban-Americans. Airline executives changed from American business attire into loose-fitting Cuban-style guayabera shirts before landing.
 
One passenger was Neta Rodriguez. She is a 62-year-old Havana-born South Florida homemaker. She checked in with her daughter, son-in-law and three grandsons. They planned to visit family in Santa Clara and Havana.
 
She said she appreciated the $200 price and the ability to book online. U.S. travel to Cuba is on track to triple this year to more than 300,000 visitors. Cuba's cash-starved economy has been bolstered by the boom in U.S. visitors.
 
Commercial flights are expected to significantly increase the number of American visitors. It is not clear by how much. Many of the air routes are currently used by expensive charter flights. These are largely expected to go out of business with the regularly scheduled service from the U.S.
 
Hundreds of thousands of Cuban-born Americans fly to the island each year. They have been forced to use chaotic, understaffed charter companies. These require four-hour check-in waits. They charge high rates for any luggage in excess of restrictive baggage allowances. Americans without ties to Cuba have found it hard to negotiate the charters. Most of them don't accept online bookings or help travelers navigate the federal affidavit still required for U.S. travelers to Cuba.
 
Some experts believe the drastic reduction in the difficulty of flying to Cuba could turn the surge in U.S. visitors into a tidal wave. Americans are allowed to visit the island on "people-to-people" cultural and educational visits, among other reasons.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was a Cuban-American crew selected for this flight?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (49)
  • hansiddhs-eat
    9/12/2016 - 10:52 a.m.

    They paused in the first place to go to Havana it is because they wanted to send a message

  • jaydenh1-ric
    9/12/2016 - 02:58 p.m.

    Hundreds of thousands of Cuban-born Americans fly to the island each year. They have been forced to use chaotic, understaffed charter companies. These require four-hour check-in waits. They charge high rates for any luggage in excess of restrictive baggage allowances. Americans without ties to Cuba have found it hard to negotiate the charters.

  • tiaj-ric
    9/12/2016 - 05:25 p.m.

    A Cuban-American crew was chosen for this flight because the Cuban-Americans spoke the right language. If they were to pick someone that didn't speak a language everyone could understand, then they wouldn't know if there is an emergency going on.If they don't know that there is an emergency going on then they wouldn't be able to get in a safer situation.

  • humbertoc-ric
    9/12/2016 - 05:52 p.m.

    A Cuban Americans was selected for this flight because Hundreds of thousands of Cuban-born Americans fly to the island each year. They have been forced to use chaotic, understaffed charter companies. These require four-hour check-in waits. They charge high rates for any luggage in excess of restrictive baggage allowances. Americans without ties to Cuba have found it hard to negotiate the charters.

  • andrewt1-pav
    9/13/2016 - 10:08 a.m.

    I think that this will help both economy's boom because it seems that Cuba doesn't get a lot of tourists. Also, this will help the relationship between both countries relationship flourish which is needed.

  • kristinaj-ric
    9/13/2016 - 02:43 p.m.

    A Cuban American crew was selected for this flight most likely to join the new and renovated connections between America and Cuba. After many years of American citizens not being able to travel to Cuba,this opening will make communication between the two countries happen again. "The first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century landed in the central city of Santa Clara. This was on August 31. The flight established regular air service. Regular service ended at the height of the Cold War.

    Cheers broke out in the cabin of JetBlue flight 387. The passengers were mostly airline executives, U.S. government officials and journalists. In addition, there was a sprinkling of Cuban-American families and U.S. travelers. They were given gift bags with Cuban cookbooks, commemorative luggage tags and Cuban flags. The visitors were encouraged to wave the flags.". Cuba and America our alliances once again, giving joy to American and Cuban tourists wanting to visit each other's countries.

  • rileys1-ric
    9/13/2016 - 02:51 p.m.

    A Cuban-American flight crew was picked because, for one, it seemed more welcoming going into Cuba. Two, it was celebrating going into Cuba. Third, it was the first time commercially flying into Cuba.

  • briannap1-ric
    9/13/2016 - 02:53 p.m.

    A Cuban-American crew was selected for this flight because they have been forced to "understaffed" and "chaotic" air companies. This will also help their economy because this is the first flight between the U.S and Cuba that has taken place for more than half a century. Cuba is trying to get the number up to more than 300,000 for visitors of the country. This will help them and give them money as well if they go through with this new air company.

  • jaylaw-ric
    9/13/2016 - 02:55 p.m.

    Most Cuban America was selected because they were the best to fly because they know what they are doing because of all the war. There will not be problems and and the Us Government wanted it that way. If there was anyone else they want to fly a plane it will be that way. If the flight attendants are careless then they will just tell the Government

  • gavinp1-ric
    9/13/2016 - 03:14 p.m.

    A Cuban-American crew was selected because they wanted to use a mixture of both races. They wanted to do a mixture because they were finally after year starting flights from Cuba to America. Cuba had put a ban on the United States for a while for tourist travel from Cuba to the US and the other way around. Cuba is trying to start increasing the number of flights going to and from Cuba to the United States so they are going to select both Races to be on the crew.

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