Commercial Flights to Cuba Could Start in 2016

After over 50 years of a fractured relationship where they did not even talk to each other, Americans and Cubans have taken another step in solidifying their renewed love – visiting each other.

The two sides have made many changes since that Dec. 17, 2014, announcement: reopening embassies in each others’ capitals and striking new business deals in the medical, tourism and communications fields. But Wednesday’s agreement would mark the most significant step yet in the rush to restore normalized relations.

The Obama administration has changed rules in the past year to make traveling to Cuba easier for Americans, but it’s far more complicated than booking a flight to most other places in the world. All travelers to and from Cuba must use charter flights that are carefully monitored by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Travelers must present their visas, identification and payment information to charter agents who handle the flights, and all travelers must certify that their trip falls under one of 12 categories approved by the federal government.

The agreement reportedly reached by U.S. and Cuban officials on Wednesday in Washington would create a system that is more familiar to travelers. That may include the ability to book a trip through a Web portal and eliminate the long-standing practice of checking in four hours before each flight.

Officials told the AP that the understanding could be finalized in the coming days. Once the deal is in place, commercial flights could start up in 2016.

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