Excited NBC Reporter Boards ‘Flight Into History’ to Cuba

On Wednesday’s NBC Today, correspondent Kerry Sanders once again acted like a representative from the Cuban board of tourism as he reported live from a plane set to take off for the Communist nation: “Well, good morning from the cockpit of Jetblue Flight 387....this is going to be a one hour and eight minute flight into history.”

The on-screen headline proclaimed: “U.S. Flights to Cuba Resume; Jetblue Makes History With First Flight in More Than 50 years.” Sanders gushed: “This morning, Americans can once again buy a commercial airline ticket and fly from the U.S. directly to Cuba. The last scheduled U.S. Flight was a Pan-Am DC-6 back in 1961. JFK was in the White House, hardly anyone had heard of the Beatles.”

He touted a hot spot to visit once travelers arrived: “This first flight today from Fort Lauderdale heads to Santa Clara, a three-hour drive east of Havana. It’s where revolutionary Che Guevara is buried.”

Sanders enthusiastically told viewers: “Jetblue is the first to resume flights to Cuba, but other U.S. airlines are right behind....Permission to fly directly to Havana could come later this year.”

Wrapping up the fawning segment, Sanders observed: “When you consider that the relations between our countries were once so tense that the U.S. Navy blocked the comings and goings of Cuba, you can understand why many historians never thought Americans with their passports would be able to get on an American plane and fly back and forth to Cuba.”

He failed to mention that the reason for that blockade was that Cuba had several nuclear missiles pointed at the United States. The story also skipped any mention of the status of human rights under the authoritarian regime.

Back in May, Sanders giddily boarded a cruise ship bound for the island. He celebrated the “historic” voyage as a “pinch-me moment.”  

Here is a full transcript of his August 31 report:

7:17 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Today marks a first in over half a century as U.S. Airlines began commercial service to Cuba for the first time since 1961. NBC’s Kerry Sanders is in Fort Lauderdale where he'll buckle up for the ride. Kerry, good morning to you.

KERRY SANDERS: Well, good morning from the cockpit of Jetblue Flight 387. We're going to be traveling here shortly, so I’m going to have to move to my seat, but this is going to be a one hour and eight minute flight into history.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: U.S. Flights to Cuba Resume; Jetblue Makes History With First Flight in More Than 50 years]

This morning, Americans can once again buy a commercial airline ticket and fly from the U.S. directly to Cuba. The last scheduled U.S. Flight was a Pan-Am DC-6 back in 1961. JFK was in the White House, hardly anyone had heard of the Beatles. This first flight today from Fort Lauderdale heads to Santa Clara, a three-hour drive east of Havana. It’s where revolutionary Che Guevara is buried.

Co-piloting this morning’s flight, New York-born Frank Barreras. He began his aviation career at 14. His father fled Castro’s Cuba in 1961.

FRANK BARRERAS: He will be flying with me right here, along with my grandfather and everyone else.

SANDERS: Jetblue is the first to resume flights to Cuba, but other U.S. airlines are right behind. Next week, American Airlines begins its flights from Miami into Cuba. In all, eight airlines have tentative U.S. permission to fly to Cuba from various U.S. cities. Permission to fly directly to Havana could come later this year.

When you consider that the relations between our countries were once so tense that the U.S. Navy blocked the comings and goings of Cuba, you can understand why many historians never thought Americans with their passports would be able to get on an American plane and fly back and forth to Cuba.

LAUER: Alright, Kerry. Thank you very much. Kerry making a lot of friends pre-boarding that flight.

GUTHRIE: I know. But I was going to say, couldn't get the aisle. Kerry, thank you very much.

LAUER: Have a good flight.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC