Alaska Airlines Seattle to Havana Inaugural Trip Report

As you’ve probably read, we just got back from the Alaska Airlines inaugural trip to Havana Cuba, and it was AMAZING! Here’s a first hand look at the inaugural flight.

The party was still going on as we boarded, but since we were flying first and we wanted to get a lot of undisturbed pictures from the flight, we were the first to board. TV cameras and reporters were waiting with pictures and microphones as we boarded. It was quite the LA celebrity experience!

The plane had just come in from Seattle, so they took a little extra time to get the plane boarded because… well… decorations!

Alaska Havana Inaugural flight Decorations Alaska Havana Inaugural flight Decorations

Each seat was adorned with both an Alaska flag and a Cuban flag, so that the entire cabin was full.

Alaska Airlines to Havana Inaugural flight Decorations

Alaska Airlines to Havana Inaugural flight Decorations

On each seat was a signed letter from Brad Tilden, the CEO of Alaska, commemorating the trip and thanking everyone on board for being a part of this amazing experience.

Alaska Airlines to Havana Inaugural flight

Alaska Airlines to Havana Inaugural flight

First class was full as was coach, as this flight was so important it was filled with VIPs of every sort.

Shortly after take off (and an eruption of applause as we took off) the in flight meals were distributed. I couldn’t WAIT to see what Cuba delicacies they had catered especially for this trip.

Instead, what we got was just as normal as a flight from Boise to Los Angeles on a Tuesday at 7am.

Alaska Airlines to Havana

Alaska Inaugural Flight Menu, or is it?

Nothing says “Cuban Inaugural Flight” like Mushroom and Cheese omelet and Bacon and Leek Quiche. Hmm…

Alaska Airlines Bacon Quiche

The Alaska Instagram account was in full effect before leaving, and we even got featured on their main page!

Alaska Airlines to Havana Inaugural Flight

Alaska Airlines Inaugural Flight

As it was a special flight, all the drinks and food was courtesy of Alaska, so there was… quite the line forming in the galley. On the flight the ran out of gin, rum, and water!

The rest of the flight was pretty smooth. People were up and about for most of the flight, chatting and talking with one another, and some people were being interviewed. On the flight were a few Cuban nationals that hadn’t been back in over 40 years, so this was their chance to go back to their home country.

When we landed a huge applause ran throughout the cabin, as we all realized we were part of something pretty amazing. The taxi was a slow crawl into the gates, but that’s OK. Turns out that they were prepping for a little surprise. The fire brigade at the airport was there with water cannons to welcome us to Havana. The first commercial flight in over 50 years form the west coast of the US had officially landed in Cuba!

Welcome to Cuba! Water Cannon Salute. Alaska Airlines to Havana

Welcome to Cuba! Water Cannon Salute

This was our first inaugural flight, but I can tell you that it won’t be our last. There is this certain sense of joy and accomplishment that everyone shares on board, and it’s contagious. I don’t think that I stopped smiling from take off to touchdown. We knew that the fanfare would live up to the hype, and I’m glad it did. Even though they could have done a little bit better with the catering and making the flight a little more Cuban-esque, I could not be happier with the attention of the crew, VIPs, and the Alaska executives who joined us for this ground breaking trip.

After touchdown, there were a dozen or so TV cameras out waiting for us on the tarmac, and I gotta say, sitting in row 1 and being the first to deplane was quite an experience. No doubt that Ben and I are somewhere on a Cuban TV channel right now with the subtitles “primer vuelo desde Los Angeles llega a la Habana,” and to me, that’s pretty special ☺

We stayed on the little red carpet they had set out for about a minute, smiled, waived, and took pictures (fully understanding that they could care less about the two of us) and headed off to the immigration area.

I don’t know when Alaska is going to be doing any more inaugural flights, but I’m going to make sure that we are on those flights. Unless it’s something like Portland-Wichita, only because I’m sure the fanfare won’t be the same (sorry Wichita, I’m sure you’re a great place to visit!)

Keep on reading to check out the arrival experience into Havana International Airport!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. That is super awesome! I want to travel with you so badly!

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  2. What a very special time. I get so excited reading where you two take off to, and can’t wait for more tales and pictures from Cuba.

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