After Fifty Years, Open Skies from Cuba to U.S.

The inaugural flight between Fort Lauderdale and Santa Clara, Cuba on Wednesday signals a further effort to mend decades-long broken ties between Cuba and the United States, and it only took 51 minutes.

JetBlue Flight 387 was the first regularly scheduled commercial flight between the United States and Cuba, USA Today reports, in 55 years. Nine other U.S. airlines are set to follow suit with their own private air routes, which USA Today predicts could result in some 110 flights each day between major U.S. cities and Cuba.

“The last time there were scheduled flights to Cuba, if you wanted to buy a ticket, you had to go to a ticket office. You’d fly to Cuba on a propeller plane,” said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes. “So it just shows how in 55 years things have changed.”

Upon landing in Santa Clara, a relieved U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was met with airport workers waving American and Cuban flags, and a ceremonial water canon shower. After a toast with white wine, Hayes gifted Cuban officials a model JetBlue airplane. Officials gave Hayes an oil painting of Santa Clara.

“This is just the beginning,” Hayes said. “I look forward to growing our service here in the years to come.”

Soon, Cuba will have never been more accessible to Americans, so what’s a savvy traveler to do in Cuba’s bustling capital city? Come ashore with Passport‘s Joe Pedro as he embarks on a three-day whirlwind tour of gay Havana, only at Passport Online.

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