• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 24s

Next stop, Havana. Alaska Airlines begins flights to Cuba.

By Jessica Stugelmayer 12:03 PM January 5, 2017
ANCHORAGE –

While the borders to the small island nation near Florida have been open for commercial flights since February 2016, the inaugural Alaska Airlines flight took off from Los Angeles to Cuba Thursday morning.

Passengers on the Boeing 737 included 50 political, business and cultural leaders from California and Washington state, according to a release from the company. The group will be taking part in an “educational and trade mission” to learn more about Cuba.

John Binkley, president of the Cruise Lines International Association of Alaska, and his wife were among several Alaskans on board the commercial flight. Binkley said Capt. John Ladner and a flight attendant were also from Alaska.

John Binkley, far right, poses with pilots before taking off for Cuba from LA on Thursday.

John Binkley, far right, poses with pilots before taking off for Cuba from LA on Thursday.

The celebration prior to the flight included a four-piece band and balloons that spelled out “HAV” — the code for the José Martí International Airport southwest of Havana.

Alaska Airlines applied to begin flying to Cuba in March 2016, after U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez signed the air agreement. In August, the company got approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch service to Cuba, and a month later, Alaska announced plans for daily flights from LA to Havana.

In a release, Alaska Airlines stated Thursday’s trip to Cuba is not its first-ever flight to the nation. In the 1970s, the company flew charter flights to the base at Guantanamo Bay.

It is important to note that while commercial flight to Cuba is allowed, travel to the country is still restricted. The U.S. government doesn’t currently allow Americans to visit Cuba strictly for tourism — a trip needs to fall into one of 12 categories which include family visits, official government business, professional research and meetings, as well as educational activities.

Alaska Airlines has information including flight times and required travel documentation on its website.

The company also recently completed its acquisition of Virgin America airlines, a deal that will bring changes to the corporate culture for employees as well as mileage plans and benefits for consumers.

To those amenities, Alaska can now add direct service to sunshine, mojitos and Cuban cigars.

Jessica Stugelmayer can be reached via emailFacebook and Twitter.

Latest Stories

  • Statue stands in honor of Iditarod founder

    by Dave Leval on Jun 24, 22:21

    He already has a school named after him, now, there’s another way to honor the man known as the “father of the Iditarod.” It took Palmer artist Pat Garley took roughly 18 months to complete the “Joe Redington, Senior on the Trail” statue that sits outside Redington Junior-Senior High School. The part of Redington weighs […]

  • Rookie musher first to sign up for 2018 Iditarod

    by Dave Leval on Jun 24, 22:19

    Shaynee Traska has what she needs as she prepares for the biggest challenge of her athletic career. The Yukon Qyuest 300 veteran from Two Rivers wants to play with the big dogs. Traska is the first person to sign up for next year’s Iditarod. “Very surprised, being a big Iditarod sign up day, I thought […]

  • News

    Pride Fest celebrates 40 years in Anchorage

    by Heather Hintze on Jun 24, 18:04

    Hundreds of people turned out in downtown Anchorage for the 40th annual Pride Fest. Mo Haddock and Callene Monasmith set their lawn chairs up early to get a front for the parade. “It’s a lot of fun. We like to people watch anyway but today is very fulfilling. Very heartwarming to see so many people […]

  • News

    Here’s what is pushing up U.S. home prices

    by CBS News on Jun 24, 14:53

    When it comes to buying a home in the U.S., the tide is turning in favor of sellers. The typical residential property that’s up for sale currently stays on the market for 77 days, according to Zillow — that’s the shortest listing time since the real estate service started tracking the data. While demand for […]

  • Mom left 2 children who died in hot car as punishment, police say

    by CBS News on Jun 24, 14:35

    A Texas woman told investigators that she left her 2-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son in a hot car last month to teach the girl a lesson, police said. The children died after spending several hours in the car. Cynthia Marie Randolph, 24, was being held Saturday on two counts of causing serious bodily injury to […]

  • Six inmates who saved guard’s life rewarded with shorter sentences

    by CBS News on Jun 24, 14:32

    Officer down. It’s one of the scariest calls a sheriff can receive. But when Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats got that call on June 12, it didn’t turn into the nightmare scenario he might have expected. On the contrary, that hair-raising call was the start of something heartwarming. Its unexpected source? A group of selfless […]

  • Lifestyle

    How would the Senate health care bill actually affect Medicaid?

    by CBS News on Jun 24, 14:26

    Democrats and left-leaning think tanks say Senate Republicans’ health care bill would be disastrous for individuals and families on Medicaid, the federal program that provides health coverage to low-income Americans. But White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday said President Trump is “committed to making sure that no one who currently is in the […]

  • News

    How the U.S. Army counters North Korea threats

    by CBS News on Jun 24, 14:23

    SEOUL, South Korea — While “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell and her team were in South Korea, the U.S. Army took CBS News on an aerial tour to give us a first-hand look at what they are doing to counter threats from North Korea. We hitched a ride from Yongsan Army Garrison on a […]