Politics

Now you can fly to Cuba from the west coast

There have been celebrations galore as U.S. airlines have begun flying to Havana and other Cuban cities from various cities in the east.

But on Thursday, January 5, Alaska Airlines rounded out the renewed schedule of commercial routes from the US-to-Cuba with a flight that starts at Seattle -Tacoma International Airport, stops at Los Angeles International Airport and then continues on to Havana.

I was fortunate to be able to go along for the inaugural ride.

 

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the flight took place at LAX and, once on board, passengers found little flags and an inaugural flight certificate at their seats.

Among the passengers onboard the inaugural flight were 50 political, business and cultural leaders from California and Washington state and ‘regular’ customers taking advantage of the new service – and good fares.

While Alaska Airlines’ inaugural flight to Havana was a “first,” it actually wasn’t the first time the airline has flown to Cuba.

30_cuba_1000

According to an airline blog post,  in the early 1970s, Alaska Airlines flew U.S. Military Airlift Command charter flights to the base at Guantanamo Bay.

The the modern route is being served by a Boeing 737-900ER with this daily schedule:

Start date City pair Departs Arrives Frequency
Jan. 5 Seattle-Los Angeles 5 a.m. 7:39 a.m. Daily
Jan. 5 Los Angeles-Havana 8:50 a.m. 4:55 p.m. Daily
Jan. 5 Havana-Los Angeles 5:55 p.m. 8:45 p.m. Daily
Jan. 5/6 Los Angeles-Seattle 11:45 p.m. 2:35 a.m. Daily
Flight times based on local times zones.

Here are some pics of the cool vintage cars you’ve heard that still exist in Cuba. More details about other sights tomorrow.

You can still buy campaign memorabilia at DCA & Dulles Airports.

bobble-heads

Whether your candidate won or lost last night, you can still stock up on souvenir memorabilia from this year’s Presidential campaign in a variety of shops at both Dulles International and Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton bobble head dolls were the big sellers this season, according to Market Place Development – the company that operates the concessions at both airports – as were Trump and Clinton candy bars, Donald Trump plush toys, and Hillary Clinton “We Can Do It!” coffee mugs.

trump-plush-doll

hillary-mug

PHL Airport readies for DNC

PHL Betsy Ross Flag

Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross and Alexander Hamilton (characters…) are getting ready to hand out 13-star Colonial flags and otherwise entertain passengers when Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) welcomes the delegates, party officials, journalists and spectators traveling to the city for the Democratic National Convention (DNC), taking place July 25-28.

“Many of these folks will be traveling by air to Philadelphia for the convention, and the airport will be their first impression of the City. We want to make sure it’s a positive one,” said Airport CEO Chellie Cameron.

Beginning Friday, July 22, airport staff will fan through the terminals to greet and assist delegates. And volunteers from the DNC Host Committee and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) will be in the baggage claim areas to help convention attendees.

Inside the airport, visitors will be hear The Sound of Philadelphia – a playlist of popular songs by Philadelphia’s own legendary producers and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

In the baggage claim areas on Saturday and Sunday, July 23-24, visitors will be treated to complimentary Philadelphia-centric Tastykakes and soft pretzels while Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and Alexander Hamilton hand out Colonial flags.

There’s more:

There will be a pop-up movie theater in the B/C bag claim, courtesy of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and History Making Productions, showing short documentaries about the city’s cultural and innovative history;

Shops and restaurants will have special sales and DNC merchandise for purchase;

The airport’s landscape is getting a tidying up and taxis are being offered a free wash in advance of the convention;

And, to get ready for the departure of attendees on Friday, July 29, the Transportation Security Administration will have extra screeners on duty.

And don’t forget the art:

PHL Political pins

An exhibition – Philadelphia’s History of Presidential Conventions, 1848-Present (in Terminal A-East) highlights the 12 Presidential conventions the city has hosted. The 11th took place in 2000 when Philadelphia was the site of the Republican National Convention

CLE Airport & Superman welcome RNC attendees

superman

Superman was created in Cleveland! This exhibit in CLE baggage claim tells the story.

Cleveland is hosting the Republican National Convention this week and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) – and Superman – welcomed many of the 50,000 or so attendees with art, entertainment and helpful information.

And now that everyone has arrived, the airport is getting ready for everyone to depart. This advice is posted on the CLE website:

  • The heaviest departure days for convention participants and media will be July 21st, 22nd and 23rd.  If you are also travelling at these times PLEASE leave early for your flight!
  • In anticipation of a very busy departure day following the convention on Friday July 22nd, we would highly recommend the following 5-4-3-2-1 action plan:
    • 5 Hours Check out of hotel; travel to the airport
    • 4 Hours Return rental car
    • 3 Hours Check-in at airline ticket counter
    • 2 Hours Be at the TSA Security Checkpoint
    • 1 Hour Arrive at the airline boarding gate

Air France buys 20,000 Charlie Hebdo papers for passengers

Charlie Hebdo

French flag carrier Air France purchased 20,000 copies of the first edition of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to be published since the January 7 terrorist attack on its offices.

The cover features a representation of Mohammed holding a placard that reads ‘Je Suis Charlie.’

The initial press run of five million copies sold out quickly, but Air France passengers at both Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports could pick up a copy of the issue in departure lounges.