A Quarter Century Connecting Puerto Rico with the World - United Hub

A quarter century connecting Puerto Rico with the world

By The Hub team, September 15, 2016

In 1991, the very first United Airlines flight destined for Puerto Rico departed from Washington Dulles International, headed to Luis Muñoz Marìn International Airport in San Juan. Twenty-five years later we're still connecting the mainland to Puerto Rico and its rich tourism and manufacturing industries. To celebrate both our silver anniversary and the start of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), a recognition of the rich heritage and contributions made by Americans of Hispanic descent, we're looking back on the early days of United in San Juan, recalling the important role the Puerto Rican routes have played for our customers, our employees and our airline over the past quarter-century.

When Laurie Mendez decided to leave her job as a teacher for a career as a flight attendant, United didn't have a presence in her hometown of San Juan. “I saw an advertisement that said [United] was accepting applications," Laurie said, “but pursuing an opportunity with the airline meant moving to the mainland at that time." Eager to see the world and experience life outside of the island, Laurie decided to take the leap and ended up being hired as a flight attendant based out of Newark. Shortly thereafter, not long after United started service to San Juan from Washington- Dulles, Laurie had the opportunity to be part of the inaugural flight to San Juan from Newark.

“That was the highlight of my career," she said of that first trip. “I was so happy to be on the flight that opened a new route to my home. When we landed in San Juan, you better believe I made sure that I was the one who got to make the arrival announcement. In fact, the entire inflight crew was Puerto Rican; after we touched down no one said a word, we just hugged each other. It meant a lot to us all."

In subsequent years, Laurie flourished in her airline career, working her way up to a supervisor role while earning her MBA in human resources management. That's not surprising, considering that aviation is in her blood. “Years ago, my grandmother was a Pan-Am flight attendant, flying on DC-2s," she said. “My father, brother, sisters and uncle all worked in the airline industry as well."

While she enjoyed management, Laurie missed life in the air with customers and eventually returned to her first love – being a flight attendant. Nowadays, she flies between Newark and Madrid and Barcelona, occasionally mixing it up and taking turns to Panama, Mexico and Costa Rica. And, every now and again, she'll pick up a flight back home to San Juan. “Spain is my favorite place to fly to, but Puerto Rico will always be home and I love going there," Laurie said. “It's so unique. It's part of the United States, but there's still a huge influence from our mother country, Spain. Even when I'm living in New Jersey, I cook rice, beans and plantains almost every day, just like when I was there."

Laurie credits United with opening doors for Puerto Ricans, both those living on the island and those on the mainland. “We are a bridge for Puerto Ricans to access the rest of the world. Our airline connects not only people, but also precious cargo from Puerto Rico's pharmaceutical industry which is so crucial to life there and around the world. And just as importantly, United has brought jobs to the people, my people."

United Airlines Expansion in Puerto Rico

Beginning December 18, 2016, United will increase widebody service between San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport from one to six flights weekly. The route will operate with Boeing 777 aircraft offering customers 344 seats. So visit united.com or use the United app to start planning your getaway to Puerto Rico.

United Awards Free Flights for a Year to Winners of "Your Shot to Fly" Sweepstakes

Grand prize winners live in Bradenton, FL; Cleveland, OH; Goodyear, AZ; Oakland, CA and San Francisco, CA
By United Newsroom, July 29, 2021

CHICAGO, July 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced the five lucky grand prize winners of its "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes, who will each get to fly anywhere in the world United flies with a companion over the course of the next year. The winners of the "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes are:

  • Ashley Cronkhite from Bradenton, FL
  • Robert Simicak from Cleveland, OH
  • Sean Husmoe from Goodyear, AZ
  • Lauren Aldredge from Oakland CA
  • Lauren M. from San Francisco, CA

The sweepstakes was in support of the Biden administration's ongoing national effort to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccination and encouraged United's MileagePlus® loyalty members to upload their vaccine records to United. In less than a month, more than one million MileagePlus members uploaded their vaccine cards to the United app and website for a shot to win one of the grand prizes. In June the airline awarded 30 first prize winners with a pair of roundtrip tickets anywhere United flies.

United First U.S. Airline to Offer Economy Customers Option to Pre-Order Snacks and Beverages

New pre-order option builds on the airline's contactless payment technology and is another example of the customer experience transformation underway at United
By United Newsroom, July 28, 2021

CHICAGO, July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting today on select flights, all United customers – no matter what cabin of service they're flying in – can use the airline's award-winning mobile app and website to pre-order meals, snacks and beverages up to five days before they're scheduled to travel. United is the first and only U.S. airline to offer economy customers the option to pre-order snacks and beverages, a reflection of the customer experience transformation underway at the airline.

United Airlines to Operate More than 40 Weekly Flights as England Re-Opens to U.S. Travelers

In August, United is adding a second daily flight from Washington, D.C. to London
By United Newsroom, July 28, 2021

CHICAGO, July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With today's announcement of England reopening to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. beginning Aug 2, United Airlines is making it easier for business and leisure customers to jet across the pond with the addition of flights to London. In August, United will have six daily flights between the U.S. and London, including a second daily flight from Washington, D.C. and increasing service from Houston to daily. United looks forward to resuming additional London service in the coming months as well as launching new nonstop service between Boston and London. Customers traveling to England must be fully vaccinated in the U.S. with vaccines that have been approved by the FDA and must take a test before departure as well as a PCR test within the first two days of arrival. Passengers vaccinated in the U.S. will also need to complete a passenger locator form prior to traveling to England and provide proof of U.S. residency.

Scroll to top