TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- With traditional music and Cuban fares like café con leche and pastries, 175 passengers made their way from Tampa to Havana, marking the first commercial flight between the two cities in decades.
Alex Bofill was born in Cuba and watched his parents take that inaugural flight Monday morning.
“It’s more opportunity to fly, more time, it’s not as expensive, it’s a little lower, so it’s great!” said Bofill.
U.S.-Cuban relations have relaxed since the Obama administration announced new Cuban policies and passengers traveling there tell News Channel 8 the commercial flights will make it much easier to visit family members and see the country they love.
“It’s starting to really settle in that we are about to get on an airplane and go and be back and I get to share and show them where I was to school,” said Ed Salazar.
A dozen U.S. airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger and cargo service to Havana, but eight were officially chosen back in July, including Southwest.
“The U.S. and Cuba came to an agreement in February and we had 3 weeks to decide whether we wanted to put an application in for slot authorizations and with the Cuban side to get flight times. I’m very proud of our people were able to respond that quickly,” said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly.
Cuba lies 90 miles off the coast of Florida and with this new commercial option, traveling there is just a click away.