The Havana-bound plane, which took to the air just after 7:30 a.m., carried 145 passengers. As passengers waited at the gate, AA treated them to pastelitos, cupcakes emblazoned with the airline logo, and coffee. As they boarded, AA employees placed straw hats on their heads.
"It's a monumental day of great historic relevance with Miami being the epicenter of the Cuban American community and American's hub for the the region," said Ralph Lopez, AA's vice president for its Miami hub. "We're excited to live in these exciting times and serve Havana.
While the mood in Miami was celebratory, it was more somber on the flight's arrival in Cuba where the nation is in the midst of nine days of mourning for former leader Fidel Castro who died last week.
American and several other airlines began flying regular routes to several Cuban cities outside the capital in late summer, but Monday's flight was the first of the new Havana-bound service and the first of four daily flights American plans from Miami International Airport to Havana.
The new flights are part of the Obama's administration's opening toward Cuba, but their future could be in jeopardy depending on President-elect Donald Trump's Cuba policies. He has said he will unravel changes made by President Barack Obama unless Cuba makes political changes.
The American Airlines launch kicks off a week when there will be a flurry of first flights from U.S. airports to Havana. American begins its four daily Miami-Havana flights and also service from Charlotte to Havana on Wednesday.