Milestone: The first commercial flight between the US and Cuba in more than a half century landed in the central city of Santa Clara on Wednesday morning, re-establishing regular air service severed at the height of the Cold War, reports the AP. The jaunt from Fort Lauderdale took only 45 minutes, notes ABC News. The flight of JetBlue 387 opens a new era of US-Cuba travel—about 300 flights a week will connect the US with an island cut off from most Americans by the 55-year-old trade embargo. The restart of commercial travel between the two countries is one of the most important steps in President Obama's two-year-old policy of normalizing relations with Cuba.
"Seeing the American airlines landing routinely around the island will drive a sense of openness, integration, and normality," says Richard Feinberg, author of Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy. "That has a huge psychological impact." Neta Rodriguez, a 62-year-old Havana-born South Florida homemaker, checked in Wednesday morning with her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons for a visit to family in Santa Clara and Havana. More than the historic nature of the flight, she said she appreciated the $200 price and the ability to book online instead of visiting a charter office.