The captain of Delta Air Lines' first scheduled flight from Atlanta to Havana will be returning to a country that he hasn't been to since he was eight months old.
Captain Gus Loureiro, a Delta pilot for 27 years, was born in Cuba but never returned since he and his family left the country in 1960.
"It's just a reconnect for me, a reconnect for Delta," Loureiro said. "It's an opportunity I didn't think I'd ever have in my lifetime."
Loureiro said he will only be landing at the airport and then flying back, since long layovers in Cuba not yet allowed for crewmembers. But he hopes to return for a longer visit sometime in the future.
"This is wonderful that this is opening up now," Loureiro said. He also announced over the intercom to passengers on the flight: "I can't tell you how proud an excited we are to be taking you to Cuba today.... It's quite a big day."
Alberto Garcia Uria and other flight attendants working Delta's first Atlanta-Havana flight also have personal connections to Cuba.
"I left in October 1960 when I was five," Garcia Uria said. "I'm very excited about going back. It's very emotional for me."
Garcia Uria said he and hundreds of other flight attendants submitted essays for the chance to help launch Delta's return to Cuba.
"I'm kind of trying to keep from getting emotional," Garcia Uria said before the flight departed. " I'm kind of at a loss for words."