What US-Cuba Commercial Flights Mean to One of Our Cuban-American Employees - United Hub
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What US-Cuba commercial flights mean to one of our Cuban-American employees

By Matt Adams, September 08, 2016

The announcement on September 1 of United's scheduled routes from Houston and New York/Newark to Josè Martì International Airport in Havana was met with excitement throughout our company. But there was perhaps no one more excited than United Safety Manager Marlon Garcia Suarez. Born in the town of Cardenas in Cuba's Matanzas province, Marlon left the country as a 15-year-old in 1998, and has not been back to Cuba since 2000.

Marlon Garcia Suarez, United Employee

Marlon attended high school in Kentucky, where he learned English as a second language. His teenage years were much the same as any American kid, so far removed from the Cuban-influenced cultures in larger cities like Miami and New York City. A passionate aviation enthusiast since childhood, he went on to study aviation management at Eastern Kentucky University, while also serving as a U.S. Army reservist.

“I have both happy and sad memories of Cuba," he said, recalling his life there. “Cardenas is on the north coast, only 11 kilometers from Varadero Beach, which is one of the top travel destinations in Cuba. I'll never forget riding my bike to the beach with friends on the weekends. And in Cardenas, it's a small town, so we could all stay out late on the streets together and play."

After almost 18 years in the United States, Marlon is optimistic about what the new flights mean for both Cuban-Americans and those still living on the island. “For younger Cubans, those of my generation, I think that they generally view the softening of the travel embargo as a good thing. My personal feeling is that, what happened almost 60 years ago, though painful and life changing for many Cubans like my parents and grandparents, is history and it's time for things to change." More than anything, Marlon is looking forward to the cultural exchange that will likely take place once American visitors are allowed into the country. “American travelers will give Cubans a different view of the world outside," he said. “They will not only inject dollars into the economy, but inject new ideas and open doors for those living there. For Americans, it will enable us to get a different perspective on life in a communist country, perspective that will generate healthy discussions."

As for his plans, he is looking forward to showing his wife and 16-month-old son where he grew up as well as visiting family and friends living in Cardenas and in Havana. “I'm thinking about seeing things, like the house I grew up in, that I've probably forgotten," said Marlon, “and having the chance to reconnect with family. It's all going to be very emotional."

Working at United has only strengthened Marlon's joy over the fact that U.S. airlines have resumed service to his birthplace. “As both a United employee and someone with a personal connection to Cuba, I'm so proud that we are going to be flying there, and even more proud that after all these years, I'll be able to go back on a United plane."

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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