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Coming soon: Cuba

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The last time Houstonia visited Havana, it wasn't exactly easy, booking flights with charter services and filling out a bunch of officious forms and making a stopover in Miami before finally making it to the island. Then again, this is an island that was previously quite inaccessible for many Americans, so we happily booked and filled and stopped over because it meant gaining access not only to Havana but also its amazingly old-school piña coladas made with fresh coconut cream and pineapple juice.

But beginning later this year, traveling to Havana will be easier than ever before thanks to United Airlines, which will offer non-stop service to the Cuban capital out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport. We're not getting the daily non-stop service to Havana that will also be offered out of Newark's airport, but rather a weekly flight departing and arriving on Saturdays.

"Secretary Anthony Foxx and the U.S. Department of Transportation made an outstanding decision by approving United Airline's application for Saturday service between Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Havana's Jose Marti international Airport," said Mayor Sylvester Turner in a press release. "Secretary Foxx and United both recognized the very significant economic and consumer benefits these flights to Cuba will bring to Houston-area residents, travelers, businesses and entrepreneurs. While there are nearly 20,000 Cuban Americans in Houston alone, United's service will also connect communities across the central and western U.S."

No official start date for the flights has been announced, but United anticipates service to begin prior to 2017, making it one of the first U.S. airlines to provide commercial service to Havana, as well as the first airline to offer U.S.-Havana service from outside Florida.

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