A Jet Blue flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is scheduled to touch down in Santa Clara, Cuba, today, making it the first commercial flight in 50 years between the two states.
Last month, Jet Blue announced its plan to run frequent flights between US and Cuba - with some fares going at the bargain-basement price of $99 a ticket. The Miami Herald reported it as “the lowest Cuba fare announced so far by a commercial airline.”
The US announced loosened travel restrictions between the two cold-shoulder states back in 2015, and airlines rushed to apply for routes when the option opened earlier in 2016.
Jet Blue will be running the Fort Lauderdale-Santa Clara route over Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting today, easing into daily service from October 1 and on.
Two other routes are planned for daily service, to be launched in November: Fort Lauderdale-Camaguey, and Fort Lauderdale-Holguin.
On July 7, Jet Blue has also won the rights for routes directly to Havana from New York, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale, though it is unclear when the rising company plans to implement them.
“It’s a new day for Cuba travelers and one we have thoughtfully prepared for,” Marty St. George, Jet Blue’s executive vice president - commercial and planning, said in a statement. “We are proud to usher in a new era of Cuba travel with affordable fares and great service.”
All Americans still need visas to enter Cuba, and traveling for tourism is still technically not allowed. Instead, Americans applying for visas need to cite one of 12 possible legitimate reasons, such as visiting family, humanitarian projects, journalism, educational activities, or professional research.
Jet Blue says it will sell visas at check-in for $50. The carrier is offering Cuba's mandatory health insurance for travelers, as well as and online affidavit forms to confirm passengers' reason for entry.