CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Starting this fall, travelers will be able to catch a flight to Cuba originating out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Beginning Sept. 7, American Airlines will begin service from Charlotte to Miami and then to five Cuban cities -- Cienfuegos, Camagüey, Holguín, Varadero and Santa Clara.
The airline is still waiting for U.S. Department of Transportation to grant slots to Havana.
Anyone headed from Charlotte to Cuba must make a connecting flight through Miami.
For many people here, this move makes them feel closer to home.
Cuban native Walber Diaz's was joyful about having commercial flights from Charlotte where he now lives to Cuba.
"It will be easier," Diaz said. "You have options."
He came to Charlotte after the U.S. normalized relations with Cuba.
Commercial flights are back open for the first time since the two nations took two different political paths more than 50 years ago.
"It's going to be good for his family," Diaz's translator said. "He is saying he has a lot of family here Cubans."
They normally have to drive to Miami to catch a flight.
To promote the new service to Cuba, American has launched a fare sale with tickets out of Charlotte starting at $298. The sale applies to flights from Sept. 7 to Nov. 15. The sale ends July 11.
All flights under this fare sale will require a minimum of three nights or a Sunday, whichever is fulfilled first, and are subject to availability.
Passengers need a visa to travel to Cuba from the United States and can obtain one by falling under one of the 12 categories mandated by the U.S. government.
"This is a great opportunity for you to get down to visit your family," Katie Cody, with American Airlines, said.
American Airlines has petitioned to get the one thing Diaz wants most: a daily direct flight to Cuba from Charlotte.
American Airlines believes Charlotte has a good chance of getting approval from the federal government this summer.
"This is a fantastic airport," Cody said. "We have great air service here. It's the second-largest hub for American Airlines."
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