I’ve been on more than my share of inaugural flights. So it was no surprise that I wanted to be on the first commercial service from the US to Cuba in more than 50 years. I booked as soon as the flight was loaded into the system and was among the first; I know I had the first assigned seat on board. I was also the first passenger to board the plane that morning in Fort Lauderdale, touching off something of a media whirlwind that I was not particularly expecting and one that I could not really keep up with since I was in Cuba and internet access is both spotty and expensive. And perhaps that was a good thing.
It gave me more time to think about the significance of that flight and what it means well beyond the impact to commercial airlines. This is a huge political step. It is one that I wholeheartedly support from humanitarian and economic perspectives. That’s way different from launching a new city pair or even a new aircraft type into service. Listen to the announcements made by the flight attendant (of Cuban descent; all 5 crew on board the inaugural were). Lots of other people made big speeches that day. The airline CEO and the Cuban Ambassador to the USA and the Secretary of Transportation. But the words from the flight attendant were the strongest and most meaningful to me.
The more I think about it the bigger a deal it seems to be. And I could not be more happy about getting to be a part of it.
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I agree! If you’re interested here’s a piece I wrote about President Obama’s visit earlier this year. I include some reflections on what it was like studying abroad in Cuba 15 years ago. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-cuba-point-benjamin-rowse-040116-20160331-story.html
Nice read. I do wonder just how much has changed in 15 years. I saw some small bits in the year span between my visits but not a ton.
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