As historic commercial flights have begun between the United States and Cuba in the past weeks, those pilots and other crew members on those flights who are Cuban-Americans are finding that the welcome mat is not being rolled out for them.
Authorities within the Cuban government are telling all airlines that will be flying from American cities to the island nation that those who do not have a Cuban passport – a requirement for anyone born there who left the country after 1970 – will not be allowed entry.
Since rules require overnight rest stops for those who fly 12 hours in a day, airlines such as American, JetBlue and Spirit are going through their crew lists and removing anyone born in Cuba from assigned flights to the country.
"That’s a Cuban government demand. That’s not something we’re saying,” said American Airlines spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello to the Miami Herald. “We are abiding by the laws of the Cuban government."
The first flight in over 50 years took place in late August, taking off from Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport on JetBlue Airlines. American had their first flight take off from Miami International Airport the following week.
"The Cuban government requires all Cuban-born individuals to have a valid Cuban passport when entering the country. American Airlines abides by the laws and regulations in all of the countries and territories where we operate," American said in a statement Friday. "American continues to work diligently with Cuban authorities to secure accommodation that will impose no additional documentation requirements on our employees."