I had been threatening to fly to Cuba for a while to report on the farm-to-table scene for my blog but had not taken any steps towards that end. This all changed when JetBlue announced the sale of tickets for the inaugural flight for its newly awarded route between Orlando and Havana. I saw the opportunity to meet my original goal while participating in what i perceived to be a historic event.
We had missed a recent JetBlue flight to NY so, to prevent a repeat performance, my wife had set the alarm at an ungodly hour. And a good thing she did. First off, everyone had had the same idea to get there early. Second, you needed to affirm, by affidavit, your reason for traveling to the island. Even if you had filed the affidavit online, you had to redo it manually because the online submittals had not linked to individual travel records. And, third, visas had to be purchased ($50) for each non-resdident Cuban traveling. All in all, a slow process.
JetBlue sought to make the process bearable. They had staff members aplenty on hand directing you to the right lines and handing out affidavits so that they could be filled out before approaching the counter. Staff members working "the floor" wore Tshirts which loudly commemorated the event. The lines were long but orderly and, judging by the number and (large) sizes of the checked luggage, were primarily populated by individuals taking advantage of the flight to visit family members on the island.
|Warren Christy of JetBlue|
|Parlo and Mrs Christy|
|Plane that was taking us down to Cuba at gate|
The taxi was relatively short and we were number one for takeoff when we got to the runway. In his remarks, the pilot had indicated that the flight duration would be 1 hour and 1 minute. There was in-flight service but, due to the brevity of the flight, it was still ongoing when we started our initial descent.
|JetBlue staffers waving us on our merry way|
At this point Warren Chrity took the microphone and thanked us all for being a part of this historic flight. He was the receipient of a warm round of applause. It was as though the travellers were saying "thank you guys for doing this."
The landing was flawless and was greeted with loud hoots, clapping, and waving of the Cuban flags that had been placed on our seats previously. As I exited the plane, I shook Mr. Christy's hand and wished him and his organization well on the new route. I am a regular JetBlue customer and a fan of the organization. They represented on this one.
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