Historic Flight From US Touches Down in Cuba

PHOTO: A JetBlue Airways airbus A320 jet sits on the tarmac in this undated file photo.PlayJoe Raedle/Getty Images
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For the first time in more than 50 years, a scheduled commercial flight from the United States has landed in Cuba. JetBlue Flight 387 touched down in Santa Clara, Cuba, at around 11 a.m. after departing Ft. Lauderdale earlier this morning with 150 people on board.

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While the flight was filled with mostly members of the media, airline executives and other VIPs, about 60 people were regular travelers, according to the airline.

The flight itself was a short hop, lasting only about 45 minutes, but the significance and fanfare surrounding it was substantial.

The flight departed Ft. Lauderdale to a water cannon salute, a long tradition in celebrating a ship's or aircraft's special occasion.

JetBlue said passengers would enjoy an in-flight bingo game and giveaways. JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes was also expected to give remarks on board.

A reception and remarks from dignitaries will greet the passengers when they deplane before JetBlue Flight 388 makes its return to the U.S.

The pilots in charge of the first pair of flights between the countries are Captain Mark Luaces and First Officer Francisco Barreras.

Luaces, born in Miami, is the son of Cuban parents who came to the U.S. as teenagers. Barreras is also the son of two Cuban parents who came to the U.S. in 1961. His great-uncle was a general manager for Pan Am in Havana. Another family member was a pilot for the Castro family.

American Airlines, the U.S.'s largest carrier, will fly to Cuba on Sept. 7.

Ten U.S.-based airlines that have now been approved for scheduled service to the island are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country and United Airlines.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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