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Havana, Cuba Routes Launched By American Airlines and JetBlue

Travelers Today       By    Sheobi Anne Ramos

Updated: Nov 29, 2016 04:05 AM EST

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American Airlines and Jet blue became two of the first airlines that finally launched commercial flights from the United States to Havana, Cuba since 1960s US trade embargo of Cuba on Monday.

American Airlines Flight 17 left Miami and arrived at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport at 8:25 am after a short flight. It was followed by a Jet Blue flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York a few hours later.

Other commercial airlines will also follow the steps of American Airlines and Jet Blue and will begin their Havana service this week, namely United, Delta, Spirit and Frontier. Southwest and Alaska is also expected to follow on December 12 and January 5 next year.

The commenced flights happened three days after the death of Fidel Castro, Cuba's longtime leader. The American Airlines provided their passengers with straw hats with the word "Cuba" on the back, making the entire mood far from celebratory. A state-sanctioned live music ban hushed the celebrations, as Cubans went to Havana's Plaza of the Revolution to pay their respects to Castro.

Over the last few decades, it was commonly thought that only Castro's death would take to open up travel to Cuba. But Obama already eased some rules on restrictions on travel from the US last year by executive order.

Still, despite the relaxing of travel restrictions, going to Cuba is still somewhat difficult. Under U.S. regulations, pure tourism is still illegal and only 12 types of categories are allowed. Educational travel that promotes human contact, religious and sports activities are some of the clauses most US citizens travel under.

Alfredo Gonzalez, the American Airlines director for the Caribbean said, "We'll see what will happen with the Trump administration. We don't know exactly what will happen, but we can say that we are in Cuba, in the provinces, in Havana, and we will continue our service moving forward."

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