Last updated: 02:32 PM ET, Wed March 18 2015

First Direct US-Cuba Flight Departs JFK Airport

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | March 18, 2015

First Direct US-Cuba Flight Departs JFK Airport

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

For the first time since President Obama announced eased restrictions on travel to Cuba earlier this year, the first direct charter flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Havana, Cuba was completed on Tuesday. 

According to Lorena Mongelli of the New York Post, the Sun Country Airlines flight was organized by Cuba Travel Services, which will begin offering the service once a week on Tuesdays.

Passengers flew on a 140-seat Boeing 737.

Although travelers still have to declere one of only a dozen approved purposes for visiting the Caribbean island nation, they no longer have to wait to obtain a special license from the U.S. Government.

"We used to have to fly to Miami and stay overnight because the flights never lined up," said passenger Barbara D’Andrea. "We were pleased to learn that we could fly out of JFK."

"This is a good first step and we’re very happy we can fly directly to Cuba rather than having to grab a connecting flight," said Juan Carlos Perez. 

"It makes things much easier."

But despite the added convenience of being able to avoid connecting to a charter flight from Florida, the new service is pricey, with an individual round-trip ticket running $849. 

Nevertheless the new direct service from JFK is sure to become popular. Tuesday's flight was sold out, and CTS has acknowledged a rise in demand for flights to Cuba since President Obama's announcement two months ago. 

"It’s increased a lot," said CTS director of marketing Emily Sanchez. "Especially after the announcement the president made, more people are curious about visiting."

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