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 Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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