First Commercial Flight From Miami International Airport to Cuba in Over 50 Years Takes Off

It's something most people haven't seen in their lifetime: an American Airlines boarding screen with a destination in Cuba at Miami International Airport – and it’s only the beginning of mass commercial travel between the USA and Cuba.

"Not in my lifetime did I think I’d experience this," said Liane Ventura, one of 90 travelers on Flight 903 to Cienfuegos Wednesday. "We haven't had relations in over 50 years and it's time."

"Some of the other family members are, you know, 'I’m waiting to see what happens, I don't think things are going to change,” said Ventura, who was born in the United States to Cuban parents. "But I think I’m very optimistic."

American Airlines is the second U.S.-based airline to launch regularly scheduled commercial flights to the island nation from South Florida – and the first from MIA in more than half a century.

"I’m really excited to see the culture there,” said Cristal Espejo, a visitor from New York who is making the historic trip with friends. "I don't have any expectations, but I’m going into it very open."

Americans are still prohibited from visiting Cuba as tourists, but can book trips that fall under a dozen different categories including visiting family members or an academic trip.

American Airlines says it will eventually have 84 weekly flights to Cuba from Miami, more than any other airline. Miami travelers will be able to go to Havana later this year.

"The embargo really hasn't done anything or made any changes in Cuba so maybe we ought to try something else,” Ventura said. “This is the something else."

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