Chicago O'Hare Airport Begins Flights to Cuba
Rachel Krech – Tue Mar 8, 6:44 pm ET
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have announced that an
additional eight airports will be allowed to schedule charter flights to
Cuba, which includes O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
Before today, charter flights to and from the communist island country
in the Caribbean were only available through Los Angeles, New York, and
Miami. Aside from O'Hare Airport, Customs and Border Protection gave the
OK to international airports in Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Tampa,
Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, the
unincorporated U.S. territory.
Although eleven airports will now host flights to Cuba, officials say
that access to these flights will still be limited and that passengers
must meet specific travel requirements. However, the new announcement
will also allow more people to travel to Cuba for religious and
Back in January, the Obama administration promised to work on loosening
travel restrictions for U.S. citizens and make it easier for those who
met requirements to travel to Cuba. The U.S. Department of State lists
all the current travel requirements and still emphasizes that those
traveling should be aware that they could be closely monitored while in
Cuba and that the U.S. does not have full diplomatic relations with Cuba.
For Chicago's Cuban population, the charter flights from O'Hare Airport
will offer more opportunities for those wishing to visit families.
Although the Cuban population in Chicago doesn't compare to that in
Miami or Tampa, FL, the Windy City has around 14,000 Cuban-Americans,
making up 0.5 percent of the population. Cubans arrived in Chicago after
fleeing their home country after Fidel Castro's takeover in 1959. Many
Cuban-Americans doubt ever being able to live in Cuba under its current
political conditions, though many still have family and friends
remaining in the country.
Adriana Perez, a third generation Cuban-American and college student,
said, "I haven't been to Cuba but I've been hoping to as part of my
college degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish. I've already
traveled to Guatemala and Colombia, but of course the chance to visit
Cuba and discover my background first hand would be an amazing chance. I
think that opening up more airports to have flights will give people,
especially students like me, to travel to Cuba for whatever reason."
For anyone interested in finding more information about travel to Cuba,
visit the U.S. Department of State's website, which gives detailed
information about travel requirements and other procedures.
Rachel Krech provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues
and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago
suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and
passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.