5 things to look for in Brightline’s new passenger trains

We got our first look this week at the new train for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger-rail service.

With trains set to start rolling this summer between West Palm Beach and Miami with a stop in Fort Lauderdale, journalists were given tours of two train cars, a locomotive and the Brightline maintenance facility just north of downtown West Palm.

Brightline unveiled its first passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Brightline unveiled its first passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

» RELATED: Take a look: All Aboard’s Brightline unveils first passenger train

Ticket prices are yet to be announced, but those who hope to hop aboard can expect to see various ticket packages to cater to customers’ needs, Brightline President Michael Reininger said. Travelers will be able to choose between two levels of car: the Smart Coach, which has four seats across per row with an aisle down the middle; and the Select Coach, which features wider seats, free snacks, alcoholic beverages, and two seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other, allowing for solo seating.

» PHOTOS: All Aboard Florida unveils Brightline, train designs

Here are a few features inside the trains for travelers to watch for:

WiFi: Each Brightline train car is equipped with free on-board WiFi. Brightline officials said with multiple antennas per train, the WiFi signal will be powerful enough to allow guests to stream TV shows and movies, or play online games.

Brightline officials say each set of seats on its passenger train will be equipped multiple electrical and USB outlets. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Brightline officials say each set of seats on its passenger train will be equipped multiple electrical and USB outlets. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Power: Each seat has access to multiple power outlets and USB ports. One seating configuration, which has four seats facing each other with a table in the middle, has outlets between each of the seats, with another set of outlets that pops up out of the table.

One of the hands free wash rooms inside new Brightline passenger train unveiled Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
One of the hands free wash rooms inside new Brightline passenger train unveiled Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Touchless bathrooms: The bathrooms on the Brightline train are mostly touchless — you still have to grab the toilet paper yourself. Toilets flush with the wave of your hand, and the sink and soap also are motion-activated. For those who forget to flush, the toilet will do it for you when you open the door to exit.

Mind the gap: Each train car has “gap fillers” that bridge the gap between the car and the station platform. There’s about a three-inch difference in height between the two, Brightline said, so the gap filler will allow travelers in wheelchairs or with strollers or walkers to safely cross.

Luggage rack inside a Brightline passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Luggage rack inside a Brightline passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Pet-friendly trains: Brightline trains will have room for both large and small pets. Smaller critters will have to travel in carriers, which can be stowed under a seat or in the overhead luggage area. Pet owners also can make reservations for larger pets — but they’ll get their own larger carrier at the end of the train, near the luggage racks.

» RELATED: 

Construction advances on Brightline’s Miami station

Brightline opponents call financing plan shift a “scheme” to avoid lawsuit

 

Wanna go to Havana? Three airlines kick off flights from Fort Lauderdale

Just days after the first regularly scheduled commercial flight to Havana, Cuba, in five decades left the United States via Miami — and within a week of the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro — flights between Fort Lauderdale and island nation’s capital will begin.

The landmark flights follow a recent pledge by President-elect Donald Trump via Twitter to “terminate” the deal between the U.S. and Cuba if “Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole.”

Three airlines will launch direct flights to Havana from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in coming days. JetBlue Airways’ flight took off at 11 a.m. today; Spirit Airlines’ flight leaves at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow; and Southwest Airlines’ flight departs at 11:55 a.m. Monday.

» RELATED: Fidel Castro dies: Music, dancing, parades fill Miami streets

Air travel between the U.S. and Cuba had been limited to charter flights until earlier this year when, as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to normalize relations between the two countries, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved several airlines to provide regular commercial air service.

JetBlue's first regularly scheduled flight to Cuba leaves Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31, 2016. (Kristina Webb/The Palm Beach Post)
JetBlue’s first regularly scheduled flight to Cuba leaves Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31, 2016. (Kristina Webb/The Palm Beach Post)

JetBlue held a lively celebration at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport at the end of August as one of its planes became the first regularly scheduled commercial flight in 50 years to go to Cuba. The flight, which took about an hour and landed in Santa Clara, was heralded as a milestone both for the airline and airport, as well as U.S.-Cuba relations, which Obama has worked to thaw in the past two years.

Among the changes ushered in by the Obama administration: more air travel, more business opportunities, and a lift on the restrictions barring the import of Cuban cigars and rum to the U.S.

But the administration’s actions have not been without controversy. Some politicians — including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father fled Cuba for the U.S. — have said that despite Obama’s claim that his administration is helping the Cuban people, the shift in policy actually helps the Castro family and others in power in Cuba.

In a blog post, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez said that by the end of the year, airlines estimate they will have conducted more than 500 round trip flights — equal to more than 90,000 passenger seats — between Havana and Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa.

“The numbers themselves are impressive,” Mendez wrote, “and they underscore the significant benefits that President Obama’s policy of re-engagement is having for both the American and the Cuban people.”

Despite the current administration’s optimism, there is uncertainty among travelers and officials as to how Trump’s presidency will affect flights to Cuba.

Earlier this month, a federal official cautioned that it’s too soon to tell what effect a Trump presidency could have on how U.S. airlines operate to and from Cuba. Jenny Rosenberg, acting assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, said in a conference call with reporters that it’s too soon to “speculate on the current agreement that we have.”

 

Mark Gale, CEO and president of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, told The Palm Beach Post in August that he’s proud of his team and JetBlue, whose flights account for about a fifth of all traffic at the airport.

“To have that very, very first flight come out of our airport is a great honor,” he said.

 

 

 

 

Should you clap when your plane lands? | Poll

It might be the top thing that divides frequent fliers. The one thing that separates those who travel via air often, from those who don’t.

Yes, we’re going to talk about whether or not you should clap when your flight lands.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

After reading a post from a friend on Facebook this past weekend where she vehemently defended her right to clap, I decided to ask my Facebook friends: Do you clap when your flight lands? When and why? The answers were … kind of all over the place.

Amanda Parmelee, a former Delray Beach resident who now works as an outreach coordinator for a North Carolina nonprofit, said she tends to clap at the end of rough flights. In one instance, she said, “The applause was actually shared by everyone. There was a bit of skidding, and I think everyone was just happy to have touched down without incident.”

A friend from college, Cheyanne Lent, said she claps at the end of every flight.

Vincent Tran, a former coworker, quipped that he doesn’t clap when his flight lands — but he does clap when his Uber driver gets him safely to his destination.

Travel writers seem to be torn when it comes to this issue. An ABC News travel writer said, basically, “What’s the harm?”

“I can think of plenty of worse things people could do on a plane than clap when it lands,” Lesley Carlin wrote for the site.

Earlier this year, a flight attendant wrote a list for The Huffington Post of the 12 things passengers need to stop doing. And yes, clapping when the plane lands is on the list.

USA Today’s popular Ask the Captain column took on the question in 2013. John Cox, who writes the column and flew for U.S. Airways for 25 years, said often the pilots don’t hear the applause. It’s OK to clap, he said, but he doesn’t: “I don’t clap … because I recognize the professionalism of the pilots and know that they are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do.”

So it based on experience? Some articles indicate it could be first-time travelers who are more inclined to applaud. A Travel and Leisure article theorized that it could be that, or it could be the destination: People might just be really excited to get where they’re going.

Where do you stand? Vote in our poll below, then comment to explain your position.

 

Cruise passengers can now ditch long customs lines using an app at this South Florida port

A mobile app designed to speed travelers’ entry into the U.S. can now be used at Port Everglades — making the Fort Lauderdale seaport the first in the nation to offer the service.

The app, Mobile Passport Control, is available for iPhone and Android devices, and is in use at airports throughout the U.S., including Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport. Cruise passengers at Port Everglades can use it beginning today, the port said in a news release.

Busy Port Everglades has a new way to help travelers sail through customs lines. (Provided)
Busy Port Everglades has a new way to help travelers sail through customs lines. (Provided)

The app’s availability for travelers comes on the eve of the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, taking up residence at Port Everglades.

Here’s how the app works, according to its website:

• Travelers download the app and complete a profile for themselves. They also can add profiles for family members. That information is encrypted and shared only with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

• Before leaving the cruise ship, the user enters the information they would have written on a customs form into the app by answering a few questions.

• The app generates a barcode, which the user can take to a specific Mobile Passport Control office after leaving the ship. A customs officer will scan the barcode, and the traveler will be able to head on their way.

In addition to the app, Port Everglades also recently finished testing Automated Passport Control kiosks in its cruise terminals. Similar to the way the app works, travelers can use the kiosks to fill out their biographical information and customs declarations before heading to a customs line.

“Through our partnership with Port Everglades, we have worked together to bring new technology and procedures to the cruise ship processing environment,” Jorge Roig, Customs port director at Port Everglades, said in a news release. “The addition of the Mobile Passport App and Automated Passport Control Kiosk to the cruise ship environment will bring added benefits to all those that utilize the program and will assist CBP in the completion of its mission of keeping maritime travel safe.”

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Matthew: Amtrak to suspend service in Southeast

(Provided by Amtrak)
(Provided by Amtrak)

Amtrak said Wednesday it is temporarily suspending its train service in the Southeast as the region is expected to begin feeling the effects of Hurricane Matthew.

» COMPLETE LIST OF SHELTERS, EMERGENCY RESOURCES

According to a news release, the following routes are canceled for Thursday and Friday, with no alternate transportation provided:

• Silver Star 91 and 92 from New York City to Miami
• Silver Meteor 97 and 98 from Miami to New York City
• Auto Train 52 and 53 between Lorton, Va., and Sanford

In addition, the Palmetto 89 and 90 from New York City to Savannah, Ga., will instead run to Washington, D.C.

To check your train’s status, change your plans or check refund information, go to www.amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL.

» The latest on how Matthew is affecting flights in South Florida

» How Matthew is muddying cruise lines’ plans

» How FEC, All Aboard and CSX are preparing for Matthew

More coverage of Hurricane Matthew:

The latest from The Post’s weather reporter, Kim Miller

Make sure you have your hurricane supplies

Which Palm Beach County gas stations can pump without power?

Airlines expand travel waivers in Southeast as Hurricane Matthew approaches

American is one of several airlines offering travel waivers for some flights. (Getty Images)
American is one of several airlines offering travel waivers for some flights. (Getty Images)

UPDATED: Several airlines have issued travel waivers for airports across South and Central Florida and the Caribbean as Hurricane Matthew makes its way toward the Sunshine State.

Many flights were delayed or canceled at Palm Beach International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport.

» See the latest on delays and cancellations at South Florida airports

A travel waiver typically allows passengers to change their flights with little to no penalty. The waiver offered varies depending on the airline. For information regarding a specific flight, contact your airline.

Here’s the list of travel waivers in effect. This list will be updated as more waivers are announced.

American Airlines

Waiver benefits: No change fee for eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-7; you can travel Oct. 5-12; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Augusta and Savannah, Ga.; Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh/Durham, Richlands and Wilmington, N.C.; Columbia, Charleston, Florence, Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-9; you can travel Oct. 5-14; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Cienfuegos, Cuba; Holguín, Cuba; Santa Clara, Cuba; Cap-Haïtien, Haiti; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 1; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 1-6; you can travel Sept. 3o – Oct. 9; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

Bahamas

Where the waiver is in effect: Eleuthera, Exuma, Freeport / Grand Bahama, Marsh Harbour and Nassau.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Sept. 30; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 2-7; you can travel Sept. 30-Oct. 11; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

More information from American Airlines

Delta

Waiver benefits: Receive a refund for the unused portion of your ticket, or make a one-time change to your ticket without a fee on eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 6-7. Your ticket must be reissued on or before Oct. 12, and your rebooked travel must begin no later than Oct. 12.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Brunswick and Savannah, Ga.; Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Fayetteville, Jacksonville, New Bern, Raleigh and Wilmington, N.C.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 6-9. Your ticket must be reissued on or before Oct. 14, and your rebooked travel must begin no later than Oct. 14.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Georgetown, Bahamas; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 2-6. Your ticket must be reissued on or before Oct. 9, and your rebooked travel must begin no later than Oct. 9.

More information from Delta.

Frontier

This airline has canceled many flights into and out of Orlando and St. Augustine. Click here for a complete list.

Waiver benefits: Receive one itinerary change; rules and restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements will be waived. Also, travellers on eligible flights may request a refund.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and St. Augustine.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were originally scheduled to fly Oct. 5-8 and purchased your ticket on or before Oct. 4. Travel on rescheduled flight must be completed by Oct. 29.

More information from Frontier.

JetBlue

Waiver benefits: No change/cancel fees and waived fare differences for eligible flights.

U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Savannah/Hilton Head, Ga.; and Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 5-9 and booked your flight on or before Oct. 4. You may rebook from now through Oct. 18, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Nassau, Bahamas; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Santa Clara, Cuba.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 2-6 and booked your flight on or before Sept. 30. You may rebook from now through Oct. 10, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.

More information from JetBlue.

Silver

Waiver benefits: No change fees or fare differences for eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Key West, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were schedule to fly Oct. 3-8. You must exchange your ticket and complete your travel by Nov. 17.

Bahamas 

Where the waiver is in effect: Bimini, Freeport, Governors Harbour, Great Exuma Island, Marsh Harbour, Nassau, North Eleuthera and Treasure Cay.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were schedule to fly Oct. 3-8. You must exchange your ticket and complete your travel by Nov. 17.

More information from Silver.

Southwest

Waiver benefits: No additional charge for rebooking for eligible flights.

U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 4-8 and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Montego Bay and Nassau.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Sept. 30-Oct. 5 for Montego Bay and Oct. 2-7 for Nassau, and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.

More information from Southwest.

Spirit

Waiver benefits: No modification charge/fare difference for eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 6-7, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 7-8, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.

More information from Spirit.

United

Waiver benefits: No change fees and waived fare differences for eligible flights, as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to travel between Oct. 5-7 and your new flight must be rescheduled before Oct. 12.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, Columbia and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to travel between Oct. 6-9 and your new flight must be rescheduled before Oct. 14.

More information from United.

Allegiant

The airline has canceled a slew of flights into and out of Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Sanford. Those flights will be rescheduled, and passengers on the affected flights will be contacted via email, Allegiant said. Check here for updates.

More coverage of Hurricane Matthew:

The latest from The Post’s weather reporter, Kim Miller

Make sure you have your hurricane supplies

Which Palm Beach County gas stations can pump without power?

List of Palm Beach County grocery and home improvement stores with generators

Want to fly to Havana? U.S. announces airlines that can take you there

The hotel Nacional is seen in Havana, Cuba.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The hotel Nacional is seen in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On the same day JetBlue made history with the first regularly scheduled commercial airline flight to Cuba in more than 50 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the eight airlines given final approval to fly to the island nation’s capital.

Until Wednesday, several airlines had received approval to fly to Cuban cities not including Havana. The JetBlue flight that took off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Wednesday morning was heading to Santa Clara, about three hours from Havana.

Now JetBlue, along with seven other carriers, have the final OK from the U.S. government to seek approval from Cuba to finalize flight schedules and destinations.

Here is the full list of airlines, along with their proposed routes and frequency:

• Alaska Airlines — Los Angeles, once daily

• American Airlines — Miami, four times a day; Charlotte, once daily

• Delta Air Lines — New York (JFK), once daily; Atlanta, once daily; Miami, once daily

• Frontier Airlines — Miami, once daily

• JetBlue Airways — Fort Lauderdale, twice daily (except once on Saturdays); New York (JFK), once daily; Orlando, once daily

• Southwest Airlines — Fort Lauderdale, twice daily; Tampa, once daily

• Spirit Airlines — Fort Lauderdale, twice daily

• United Airlines — Newark, once daily; Houston, once weekly (Saturdays)

The decision by the Department of Transportation places Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as one of the top airports serving Cuba, with about 40 flights daily just to Havana.

Marking the departure of JetBlue’s first commercial flight to Cuba on Wednesday, Fort Lauderdale airport CEO and Director Mark Gale said the number of flights to Cuba out of the airport is a “testament to the reputation of Fort Lauderdale.”

Stacy Ritter, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, called Wednesday’s flight to Cuba “a milestone.”

“To be the first in something so historic is truly astounding,” she said.

Read more about travel to Cuba — including what you need to do if you want to go.

How JetBlue made history this morning with flight to Cuba

Seth Miller, New York, is the first passenger to board a commercial flight to Cuba in over 55 years at Fort Lauderdale International Airport on August 31, 2016. JetBlue has started service to Santa Clara, Cuba. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Seth Miller, New York, is the first passenger to board a commercial flight to Cuba in over 55 years at Fort Lauderdale International Airport on August 31, 2016. JetBlue has started service to Santa Clara, Cuba. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

There were cheers and balloons as JetBlue sent off its first regularly scheduled flight from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Santa Clara, Cuba — the first such flight between the U.S. and the island nation in more than 50 years.

Among the guests on the flight: U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Although about half of the 150 seats on the plane were occupied by journalists, many travelers said they were making a pilgrimage-type journey to visit family, or explore their birthplace.

That was the case for Domingo Santana of Miami, who came to the United States in 1968.

Planning the trip was made even more special, he said, because he bought the first ticket for the flight.

Domingo Santana of Miami was the first passenger to buy a ticket on JetBlue's flight to Cuba Aug. 31, 2016. (Kristina Webb/ The Palm Beach Post)
Domingo Santana of Miami was the first passenger to buy a ticket on JetBlue’s flight to Cuba Aug. 31, 2016. (Kristina Webb/ The Palm Beach Post)

“It’s historic not only that it’s the first flight … but I also get to discover the country where I was born,” he said. “This is my first time going back home.”

Santana’s tip for those hoping to go to Cuba: If you have a Cuban passport, be sure to use that name when booking your flight.

Mark Gale, CEO and president of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said he’s proud of his team and JetBlue.

The airline accounts for about a fifth of all flights at the airport.

“To have that very, very first flight come out of our airport is a great honor,” he said.

Fort Lauderdale’s airport is host to more weekly trips to Cuba than Miami — something Gale said is “a testament to the reputation of Fort Lauderdale.”

Read more here.

Flights to Havana could be offered from four Florida cities

If a proposal released Thursday takes effect, you may not have to travel far to catch a flight to Havana, Cuba.

Four Florida cities are among 10 chosen as possible locations for flights to and from the Cuban capital beginning this fall.

Cubans dance the Tango in the middle of the famous Prado boulevard in Habana Vieja January 25, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Cubans dance the Tango in the middle of the famous Prado boulevard in Habana Vieja January 25, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The list of cities was released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation and includes Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, along with Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and New York City.

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”

Foxx also said eight airlines tentatively have been chosen as carriers for Havana flights: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines.

In making the decision on which U.S. cities to include in the proposal, the DOT said it looked for areas with large Cuban-American populations, along with areas that are aviation hubs.

The DOT said 12 U.S. airlines applied to offer service to Havana. The department did not release the names of the four airlines that did not make the cut.

The release of the proposed cities and carriers follows an agreement signed in February between the U.S. and Cuba to open air service between the two countries after more than 50 years. The arragement allows for each country to operate up to 20 roundtrip flights each day between Havana and the U.S.

Those traveling to Cuba must fall under one of 12 categories set by the U.S. government: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions. Read more here about what you need to travel to Cuba.

The DOT said it will release its final decision later this summer.

Free attractions in Palm Beach County to check out this weekend

Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization, recently released this list of free attractions and events in Palm Beach County.

Susan and Chris Cristopoulos take a rest during their bike ride along the Lake Trail near the Palm Beach Country Club. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Susan and Chris Cristopoulos take a rest during their bike ride along the Lake Trail near the Palm Beach Country Club. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

The list includes hot spots from Boca Raton to Juno Beach. The attractions are opened to both locals and tourists.

Here is Discover’s list:

Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Natural Areas

Gallery Exhibitions at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

Palm Beach Lake Trail for biking

 

Manatee Lagoon, an FPL Eco-Discovery Center

Gardens at Society of the Four Arts

Clematis by Night on Thursdays

CityPlace offers free concerts on Fridays and Saturdays — Pro tip: Scroll down until you see the concerts link; they update the schedule every month

Okeeheelee Nature Center

Underwater Snorkeling Trail at Phil Foster Park

Palm Beach Photographic Centre

Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum

Grassy Waters Preserve

Downtown West Palm Beach Trolley

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center

A day at the beach (Check out our list of the best beaches in Palm Beach County)