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This Week, Angelenos Can Board the First American Airlines Flights to Cuba

This is what it means for Cuban tourism.
An American Airlines airplane prepares to land at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana September 19, 2015.
An American Airlines airplane prepares to land at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana September 19, 2015.REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Hola, Havana! Though travelers are not yet able to take a U.S. commercial flight to Cuba, American Airlines begins its regular chartered service from Los Angeles to Cuba on Saturday, December 12—almost exactly one year after President Barack Obama announced normalized relations with the Caribbean island nation.

If that sounds a little complicated, it should. It turns out that air travel to Cuba even under the embargo was not nearly as tricky as it appeared—let us all pause to remember when Jay Z and Beyonce (legally) went in April 2013. In fact, chartered flights have been running from America to Cuba for decades. American Airlines in particular has run charter flights between Florida and Havana since 1991. These flights evaded the U.S. sanctions because separate, specially licensed charter companies handled the sale of tickets.