Three Perfect Days: San Juan - United Hub
Hemispheres

Three Perfect Days: San Juan

By The Hub team, December 29, 2015

Story by Nicholas Derenzo | Photography by Gabriela Herman | Hemispheres, December 2105

The Puerto Rican capital offers beautiful ocean views, pristine jungle, art and culture galoreâ and all the rum you can drink

San Juan is just five years short of its 500th birthday, but the old city shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the rainbow-hued, salsa-fueled energy that hums through the Puerto Rican capital is spilling over into rough-edged areas like Santurce, which is emerging as an incubator for artistic and culinary talent. Beyond the city limits, meanwhile, in tropical forests teeming with birds and flowers, you'll see that the city's spellbinding energy and color have an even older precedent. It's an essence that infuses every aspect of life here, and visitors are often surprised to find that, within hours of their arrival, it's in them, too.

Day 1 Graphic

In which Nicholas takes a poetic tour of Old San Juan and explores art (both visual and culinary) at the museum

If you've ever wanted to feel like a well-to-do conquistador, you could do worse than booking into the Hotel El Convento. The property is set in a mid-17th-century Carmelite nunnery, its rooms decked out in Colonial style, its courtyard shaded by a 300-year-old Spanish nispero tree, its windows opening onto the waterfront and the multicolored jumble of Old San Juan. Just beyond the bay is the Art Deco Bacardi distillery. I can't help but feel that this trifecta—history, sea, rum—may come to define my trip.

It doesn't seem prudent to start on the rum so early, so I begin my day by exploring history instead. To help me unpack the secrets of Old San Juan—set on a jam-packed, three-square-mile island—I've recruited Lady Lee Andrews, a 43-year-old local poet with cascading braids and curls. “I'm a born and raised sanjuanera," she says, as we hug hello on the steps of the hotel. “I'm like a tree. I'm rooted here."

Before we even begin our stroll, we encounter local legend Saúl Dávila, who famously wanders the streets selling armfuls of azucenas (white lilies). “This man here walks miles every day selling flowers, and he's been walking since I was a little girl," Andrews says as she buys a bunch. “We'll give these away as we go."

We cross the street and head into the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, the second-oldest church in the Americas (after the basilica in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic). The original structure was built in the 16th century, though Andrews is quick to point out that, due to centuries of being pummeled by hurricanes, only the front steps are original.

These vicious storms, Andrews continues, have left a mark on the city's people as well. “With hurricanes, there's a sense of kinship," she says, laying a flower at the feet of Our Lady of Divine Providence, Puerto Rico's principal patroness. “When I was a little girl, I longed for September hurricane season, because all the neighbors would come out and help each other. It breaks that pattern of everyone being in their own worlds."

Lady Lee Andrews, poet, artist, and owner of the Poet's PassageLady Lee Andrews, poet, artist, and owner of the Poet's Passage

Outside, the narrow colonial streets of the casco, or Old Quarter, are a riot of color, down to the bluish cobblestones, made with iron furnace slag and once used as ballast on Spanish ships. Lining the roads are stucco houses, many with wrought-iron balconies, painted lime green and banana yellow, guava pink, and papaya orange (think New Orleans' French Quarter with the volume turned up). Interestingly, these bright hues are a relatively new addition to San Juan; the city government used to dictate permissible paint colors, and the palette was surprisingly muted.

We pass a mural of the azucena man and his trademark bouquet of lilies and duck into Restaurant Siglo XX, a small traditional diner that's been around since the mid-1950s. At this time of day, the obvious choice is a mallorca, a sweet bread roll stuffed with ham and cheese and crowned with enough powdered sugar to make a beignet blush.

“San Juan is a village. We're called the Island of Enchantment, and you won't leave without getting bitten." —Lady Lee Andrews

I've noticed that Andrews can barely walk a block without stopping to hug someone, though she insists that this says more about the neighborhood's character than her own. “The first time I went to France to visit my husband's family," she tells me as she stirs brown sugar into her café con leche, “I was shocked that he had lived in the same house his whole life and didn't know his neighbors. So, being the Puerto Rican that I am, I went over, banged on the door, and said hi. And now, 18 years later, they're best friends."

Our casco walk takes us past chattering wild parrots fighting over a pizza crust near the port and the baby-blue facade of La Fortaleza, a 16th-century fortification that serves as the governor's residence. At the end of the cliffside Calle del Cristo sits a tiny, age-mottled chapel, which has a story: This street once hosted dangerous horse races, in which the rider who got closest to the edge would win. One man plunged over and miraculously survived the fall, and local residents went on to build the Capilla del Santo Cristo to thank God.

El Yunque National Forest's Mount Britton observation towerEl Yunque National Forest's Mount Britton observation tower

We continue down Calle Fortaleza, past Barrachina, the restaurant where the piña colada was invented in 1963, and duck into Andrews' shop, Mi Pequeño San Juan, where she and her painter husband, Nicolas, create plaster replicas of local landmarks. Around the corner from here is her café, the Poet's Passage, its counter modeled after a roll-top desk, with slips of paper and pens on each table in case the spirit moves you. There's also a chihuahua named Federico García Lorca, a green parrot named Pablo Neruda, and a lovebird named Robert Frost. Another bird, Maya Angelou, died a couple of years ago—coincidentally, at around the same time as Maya Angelou the poet.

I say goodbye to Andrews and head to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, which is housed in a 1909 neo-classical hospital with a contemporary annex. While outside the limits of Old San Juan, it's an institution steeped in history. Like the building, the museum's Laurel Kitchen/Art Bar plays with the theme of old-meets-new. Here, Next Iron Chef contestant Mario Pagán lovingly remixes the flavors of his homeland.

“We're all about the pork," he says, dishing up pig-ear crackling with tamarind sauce and plantain mofongo. So begins a cascade of courses that include brie croquettes with papaya skin preserves; lamb alcapurrias (fritters) with mint pique aioli; pegao (crispy rice that sticks to the bottom of the pot) with blood sausage, caramelized fennel, avocado, and egg white; black Chilean sea bass with truffled yuca puree and a port wine and foie gras sauce; and, for a finale, a slab of guava goat cheesecake. “I hope you're going to take a long nap after this," Pagán says with a grin.

But no rest for the gastronomically weary. I'm meeting the museum's Venezuelan-born curator, Juan Carlos López Quintero, for a tour. The museum is organized according to themes rather than chronology—“You have 18th-century paintings next to photographs next to video installations"—which makes for a lively experience. It seems fitting that the first gallery we enter, after such a gluttonous lunch, is “Plátano Pride"—a collection of artworks celebrating the island's staple starch, including a portrait of a boy wearing a life-size gold plantain on a chain around his neck.

“The plantain has been an icon of Puerto Rican art since José Campeche," López Quintero says, leading me to the master's 1797 portrait of the governor's two young daughters. “For the first time, you have elements that belong to this country—the maracas, the pineapple." I'm particularly taken with a massive triptych nearby called The Garden of Intolerance by Arnaldo Roche Rabell, a local neo-Expressionist painter whose swirls of thickly applied paint call to mind a tropical van Gogh. It also seems a perfect representation of the island's noise and humidity and color—the “muchness" of Puerto Rico.

Santa Mar\u00eda Magdalena de Pazzis CemeterySanta María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery

I find my appetite inexplicably whetted, so I drive a few minutes to Jose Enrique, an unassuming eatery set in a bungalow on the lively square La Placita. Enrique trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and was the first Puerto Rican chef nominated for a James Beard Award. He personifies a new wave of chefs here, but his hearty rustic fare—rice and red beans, tripletail fish fritters, deep-fried skirt steak topped with fried eggs, coconut pudding—would satisfy the most ardently traditionalist abuelita.

Before bed, I stop for a drink at La Factoría, whose pocked walls and dim lighting call to mind the kind of place where (heavily tattooed) revolutionaries might have gathered to talk shop. The feeling of intrigue is heightened by the nesting-doll layout, with different bars extending beyond a succession of unmarked doors. I sit beside a wall inscribed with “Hijos de Borinquen" (Borinquen being the island's pre-Columbian Taíno name) and sip a De Lo Mejor, a cocktail of housemade horchata, tequila, Cointreau, lime, and a smoky local rum, Ron del Barrilito.

This hip speakeasy vibe is spreading. Just next door is La Cubanita, a new bodega-inspired cocktail bar (its shelves ironically stocked with saint candles and bottles of Clorox) where you can order spirits mixed with fresh juices. My Guayabera (Barrilito, guava, lime, and sugar) is a great drink but a terrible nightcap, in that it makes me want to go dance the merengue rather than settle down. But it's been a long day. Maybe tomorrow.

Day 2 Graphic

In which Nicholas explores newly hip Santurce and enjoys an ocean-view dinner by a Michelin-starred chef in Condado

I've been in Puerto Rico only a day, but I'm already singing salsa tunes in the shower. I don't know any lyrics, so it's just coming out awkwardly like boom t-ting-ting, boom boom t-ting-ting. It's almost scary how contagious the energy is here.

Having explored the city's past, today I'm turning my attention to its future. Just over the bridge from Old San Juan is Santurce, a scrappy urban area that has become an enclave of street artists, chefs, activists, and gallerists. The word “Brooklyn" gets thrown around a lot, but a more apt comparison might be contemporary Berlin or '90s Soho.

La Factor\u00eda cocktail bar in Old San JuanLa Factoría cocktail bar in Old San Juan

I fortify myself with croquettes and fresh-baked bread at Panificadora Jerezana, the favorite bakery of local artist Martín Albarrán López. After breakfast, he drives me to La Productora, his industrial gallery on thrumming Cerra Street. The gallery got its name from the recording studios that once lined the block, churning out tropical music from the 1950s on. “This was the mecca, where salsa began," Albarrán López says. “But with iPods, the Internet, it all went down."

A few years ago, artists began to fill the void. “I don't know if you understand the word 'cojones,'" he says, “but we had the cojones to make it happen." A block from La Productora, Jaime Rodriguez Crespo crafts whimsical plastic replicas of island wildlife, such as blowfish and the ubiquitous chango (grackle), a gregarious cousin of the crow, which he depicts stealing onion rings and dog food—an ironic urban take on the pink flamingo lawn ornament.

Albarrán López shares his gallery with two other artists:Jotham Malavé, a realist painter currently exploring the theme of voyeurism through nighttime images of the suburbs, and Gil Ramos, a former lawyer with no formal training who makes wild collages with found objects, like bikinis and scraps of paper. “I try to make conversations with these humble, discarded materials," he says. “I get a kick out of watching these materials elevate themselves. I'm trying to escape the value society gives them." It's an apt metaphor for the way artists are transforming this once-maligned area.

Artist Chemi Rosado-Seijo takes on the half-pipeArtist Chemi Rosado-Seijo takes on the half-pipe

The district's streets burst with art too. Much of the graffiti is produced during the annual Santurce Es Ley festival, in which street artists from around the world are invited to use buildings as canvases. Works range from Pop Art to Banksy-like stencils to Alexis Diaz's surreal zoological murals, including a crow-octopus-human hybrid on a wall outside the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico.

Next, Albarrán López, Malavé, and Ramos take me to lunch at Soda Estudio de Cocina. Named for Argentine rockers Soda Stereo (on the stereo when we arrive), it's a funky spot with wall-size shrines to the band's late lead singer, Gustavo Cerati, and pinup queen Bettie Page. And if the decor seems ambitious, you should meet chef Hector Rosa. “We call it the New Puerto Rican Kitchen," he says, “the food of the future."

Rosa lets the market-fresh ingredients do the talking, often with a subtle twist: chorizo with guava, papaya, tomato, and avocado; fettuccine with chicharrones de pollo, satay sauce, and an alfredo-inspired celery root puree; and, for dessert, a bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme donuts that winks at the role of American mass culture on the island.

“Santurce is a zone that's been stigmatized, because the slaves and workers used to live here," Rosa tells me. “As raw as it is now, you don't always have a neighborhood where you know it's going to be amazing."

Fried red snapper at Soda Estudio de CocinaFried red snapper at Soda Estudio de Cocina

Not far from here is LAB: Laboratorio de Artes Binarios, a stark space bookended by modernist cement windows latticed with geometric concrete gratings. The vast space works well for Chemi Rosado-Seijo, whose latest project involves skateboarding on custom ramps around the world, spreading the dirt from his wheels in abstract swirls and loops. “The shape of the ramp, the person skating, the dirt from that country affect the colors," he explains. “It's abstraction and performance art and modernism together." Across the hall, Ricardo Morales Hernández paints massive monochromatic works that expand on his daughters' doodles.

It's only a five-minute drive from Santurce to my next stop, but the two places couldn't be less alike. Condado is a South Beach–esque stretch of condos and resorts, including the Condado Vanderbilt, a Spanish Revival property built in 1919 (by the firm behind Grand Central Terminal) and restored to full glory late last year. I'm having dinner at the hotel's 1919 Restaurant, a place of sleek leather chairs and mother-of-pearl chandeliers. The Michelin-starred chef here, Juan José Cuevas, combines influences from Spain and his native Puerto Rico. I grab a seat overlooking the sea and tuck into a plate of cochinillo (suckling pig) ravioli with burrata, caramelized eggplant, and Iberico ham, and a paella-inspired dish of rabbit, bomba rice, maitake, conch, and octopus.

I'm spending the night across the street at the Mediterranean-themed O:Live Boutique Hotel. This is where the Real Housewives of Atlanta stayed while in town, but don't expect paparazzi—or catfights. Inspired by the owners' wedding in Sorrento, the hotel feels like a sanctuary you'd find in Campania or Provence, with furnishings crafted from century-old reclaimed wood. It's a little shot of the Old World in a city that's become a vibrant symbol of what it means to be “new."

Day 3 Graphic

In which Nicholas scales a jungle peak (sort of) and goes birdwatching at the St. Regis Bahia Beach

Having immersed myself in urban San Juan, today I'm turning my attention to the nearby countryside—specifically El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, a 40-minute drive from the city. My tiny rental chugs up the side of a mountain, which gets denser and greener as I go. Pretty soon, I'm surrounded by waterfalls, prehistoric-looking ferns, soaring palms, and exotic parrots.

At the forest headquarters, I meet archaeologist Raymond Feliciano, who has offered to drive me around the park in his SUV. The selfie-stick crowd tends to keep to the main route, but Feliciano wants to show me another side of the forest: the top. Because my idea of mountain climbing is getting up the subway steps in one piece, we make the ascent by car rather than foot.

As we navigate a series of treacherous switchbacks, I mention how untouched the forest feels. “I wanted to get in a couple of dinosaurs," Feliciano says dryly, “which wasn't well received. But you do get the whole Jurassic Park experience." In fact, this land-that-time-apparently-forgot is mostly second-growth forest, planted by the New Deal–era Civilian Conservation Corps following the ravages of erosion and misuse. Feliciano describes it as “created nature."

Raymond Feliciano, archaeologist, El Yunque National ForestRaymond Feliciano, archaeologist, El Yunque National Forest

Our destination is the 1930s Mount Britton observation tower, which looks like a giant rook from a chess set. We climb the spiral staircase and emerge onto a castellated roof overlooking a staggeringly epic expanse. From this height, you can see San Juan, as well as the islands of Vieques and Culebra. “On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Virgin Islands," Feliciano says.

Closer at hand is El Yunque Peak, the second-tallest mountain in the forest. “When the Spanish came to extract gold, the mountain was covered by a cloud," Feliciano tells me. “The Taíno natives called it yu-ke, the resting place of their god of creation. The Spanish heard yunque, which means 'anvil.' So now people come expecting to see an anvil." Anvil or no, it's easy to be swept up in the grandeur of it all.

“People see El Yunque as a spiritual, mystical landmark. It used to be called the Sacred Mountain. When the Forest Service tried to do timber in the '80s, they were up in arms. So we shifted from timber to recreation, and now it feels like a pristine area—what God created." —Raymond Feliciano

For lunch, I head to the nearby Luquillo Beach kioskos. These ramshackle eateries are a staple along Puerto Rican beaches, each serving its take on classics like alcapurrias de jueyes (crab fritters) and bacalaítos (fried salt cod pancakes). I stop at kiosk 20, Terruño, take a seat overlooking the palm-lined beach, and order a Medalla Light (a local light beer that's less than $2 a pop), a crispy rabbit turnover, and a snow-white dish of grouper cooked in rice and coconut milk.

From here, it's a 20-minute drive to the decidedly more elegant confines of the St. Regis Bahia Beach. Occupying 400-plus acres on a former coconut plantation bounded by two rivers, the resort is centered on the Plantation House, where I check in. I wander past a minimalist koi pond and into what feels like a grand private estate, where I'm immediately greeted with a rum punch.

Luxury, though, is only part of the story here. The St. Regis Bahia Beach is the first property in the Caribbean to be named a Gold-Certified Signature Sanctuary by Audubon International. “We function like a tiny national park," says resident ecologist Ashley Perez, who's waiting for me at the hotel's boathouse, ready to coax me into a two-person kayak.

Within minutes of paddling away from the dock, we're surrounded by a diverse array of wildlife, including a green heron, which responds to our presence with dramatic squawking. “He's cursing at us," she says with a laugh. “'You ruined my lunch!' They're very clever. They use tools—they throw sticks in the water as bait." We see egrets and chickenlike gallinules walking among mangrove roots on comically oversize feet. “I love the little sandpipers," Perez says, “because they always look like they're dancing."

A bird-loving Old San Juan localA bird-loving Old San Juan local

Then there's the feisty chango—the same bird that so inspired Santurce artist Jaime Rodriguez Crespo. These birds, Perez tells me, have a habit of whining and begging their parents for food even after they're old enough to feed themselves. “When Puerto Rican kids get really annoying," she says with a laugh, “their parents always say, 'Ay chango!'"

We dock the kayak and set out in a golf cart to explore the nonwatery part of the preserve, passing trees swollen with cementlike termite nests. Soon, a mongoose skitters across our path. “They're rare to see!" Perez exclaims. “Mongoose were brought to the island to kill rats. And now … Puerto Rico just has rats and mongooses."

The sun has started to set, so I freshen up in my suite's room-size rainforest shower, then head to dinner at the Plantation House. To get there, I navigate the boardwalks that crisscross the resort (better to leave the slithering blue ground lizards and lumbering iguanas below undisturbed), serenaded by a chorus of coqui frogs croaking the two-syllable refrain that gives them their onomatopoeic name. It's a sound that nearly every Puerto Rican I've met has said they'd miss if they ever left the island.

Spilling out onto a seafront veranda, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Fern is an exceptionally refined affair. After a refreshing watermelon julep and a dinner of roasted lobster with creamy corn and chili vinaigrette, I pop down to the lobby bar. Every St. Regis boasts a signature Bloody Mary (the drink was invented at the Manhattan flagship in 1934), and here it's the spicy Encanto Mary, infused with ají picante chilies, rimmed with crushed plantain chips, and garnished with plantain-stuffed olives.

The bartender catches me staring at the painting behind the bar, a monumental neo-Expressionist work depicting a Taíno native cutting through a plant-filled marsh in a boat. “It's an Arnaldo Roche Rabell," she says, and I'm reminded of something an art museum employee told me: “Puerto Rican art is colorful and loud and spicy and full of flavor—and so is our food, and so is our music, and so is all of our culture." Even in a place like this genteel bar, you can't escape the true essence of Puerto Rico.

Hemispheres senior editor NicholasDeRenzo never considered himself a rum guy until the whiskeylike Ron del Barrillito came salsa-ing into his life


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United Plans Largest Transatlantic Expansion in its History, Including 10 New Flights and Five New Destinations Debuting Summer 2022

Airline sets course to destinations not served by any other North American carrier in Amman, Jordan; Azores, Portugal; Bergen, Norway; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Tenerife, Spain
By United Newsroom, October 14, 2021

CHICAGO, Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United today announced the largest transatlantic expansion in its history, including 10 new flights and five new, vogue destinations – Amman, Jordan; Bergen, Norway; Azores, Portugal; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands. All of the new routes – which are set to begin in Spring 2022 – are not served by any other North American carrier. Additionally, next year, United will add new flights to five popular European destinations: Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Munich and Rome. Lastly, United will launch seven routes that were interrupted due to the pandemic to Bangalore, Frankfurt, Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Nice and Zurich. Flights are subject to government approval.

"Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways," said Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United. "Our expansion offers the widest range of destinations to discover – introducing new, trendy locales that our customers will love, as well as adding more flights to iconic, popular cities."

Amman, Jordan

United will begin new capital to capital service between Washington, D.C. and Amman, Jordan starting May 5. Customers will be able to explore the numerous historical sites in and around Amman, as well as visit Jordan's other top destinations including Petra, the Dead Sea and the Wadi Rum desert. United will be the only North American carrier flying direct to Amman with service three times weekly with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal

United will add a third Portuguese destination to its global network with brand new flights between New York/Newark and Ponta Delgada in the Azores beginning May 13. The carrier will offer the most flights between the U.S. and Portugal of any North American airline and will be the only airline to fly to the Azores from the New York metro area. This daily service joins United's existing flights to Porto, which will return in March, and Lisbon, which the airline is currently operating from New York/Newark and will resume from Washington, D.C. next summer. United will fly a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft featuring United's new signature interior with enhanced seat back entertainment with Bluetooth connectivity and overhead bin space for every customer.

Bergen, Norway

Beginning May 20, United will become the only U.S. carrier to fly to Norway with flights launching between New York/Newark and Bergen. United will offer three times weekly service on a Boeing 757-200, allowing customers to experience Bergen's surrounding mountainous landscape and breathtaking fjords. United will be the only carrier to fly to Bergen from the U.S.

Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

United is expanding its Spanish beach getaway destinations with three times weekly flights between New York/Newark and Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, launching June 2 with a Boeing 767-300ER. This will be the first and only flight between the U.S. and Mallorca and will add to United's existing service to Madrid and Barcelona.

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Travelers looking for an additional new beach destination can enjoy the stunning black and white sand beaches of Spain's Canary Islands with United's new flight from New York/Newark to Tenerife. United will be the only airline to fly direct between the Canary Islands and North America with three-times weekly service launching June 9 with a Boeing 757-200. Along with the new service to Palma de Mallorca, United will fly to more Spanish destinations from North America than any other airline.

Expanded European Service

United is also adding flights to some of Europe's most iconic cities in anticipation of a resurgence in visitors. Next spring United will add:

  • New daily flights between Denver and Munich – joining existing service from Denver to Frankfurt and London which is expected to resume in March. United is the only U.S. airline to offer transatlantic service from Denver.
  • New daily flights between Chicago and Milan, joining existing seasonal flights between Chicago and Rome. United will be the only airline to offer a direct flight between Chicago and Milan, adding to its existing service between New York/Newark and Milan.
  • New daily capital to capital service between Washington, D.C. and Berlin, joining our other service to Berlin from New York/Newark. United is the only U.S. airline with direct flights to Berlin.
  • An additional daily flight from New York/Newark to Dublin and Rome.

In addition to these new routes, United will begin seven routes that were interrupted by the pandemic:

  • Daily flights between San Francisco and Bangalore beginning May 26
  • Daily flights between New York/Newark and Nice beginning April 29
  • A second daily flight between New York/Newark and Frankfurt beginning April 23
  • Daily flights between Chicago and Zurich beginning April 23
  • Flights from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York/Newark to Tokyo's Haneda airport by March 26

Committed to Ensuring a Safe Journey

United is committed to putting health and safety at the forefront of every customer's journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness through its United CleanPlusSM program. United has teamed up with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to redefine cleaning and health safety procedures from check-in to landing and has implemented more than a dozen new policies, protocols and innovations designed with the safety of customers and employees in mind. To manage entry requirements in different destinations, and find places to get tests, customer can visit United's Travel Ready Center.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website. 
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to  purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, 872.825.8640, media.relations@united.com

United Announces Promotions and Leadership Changes in Network Planning and Procurement

United promotes Ankit Gupta to SVP of Domestic Planning and United Express, Patrick Quayle to SVP International Network and Alliances
By United Newsroom, October 11, 2021

CHICAGO, Oct. 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced the promotion of Ankit Gupta to Senior Vice President of Domestic Planning and United Express, and Patrick Quayle to Senior Vice President International Network and Alliances. Both Gupta and Quayle will continue to report directly to Andrew Nocella, United's Chief Commercial Officer.

In addition to these promotions, United also named former United Express Senior Vice President Sarah Murphy to lead the airline's new Global Sourcing organization as Senior Vice President of Global Sourcing and Chief Procurement Officer. Murphy will now report to Gerry Laderman, United's Chief Financial Officer.

Ankit Gupta

"As we work to deliver the best customer experience in North America with a dramatic increase in premium seats, Ankit's leadership in developing the United Next vision has us poised to exceed our customers' expectations as we meet the resurgence in air travel," said Nocella. "He has helped us execute network strategies that would ordinarily take years to develop in a matter of months. And as we play an ongoing and key role in the U.S. economic recovery, we will continue to shape our domestic network with a fleet that spans the CRJ-550 to cutting-edge mainline narrowbody aircraft."

Gupta, formerly Vice President of Network Planning and Scheduling, will now assume responsibility for the operation and strategy of the United Express network in addition to leading the domestic planning team. By linking the United Express operation more closely with the airline's domestic planning team, United expects to better optimize its network and deliver a better, more consistent experience with the products and services it offers.

Patrick Quayle

"Patrick continues to be instrumental in enhancing the alliances that benefit both United and our partners by helping us reach destinations each carrier is unable to serve with its fleet alone," said Nocella. "He led the design and interior configuration for more than 1,000 of our aircraft, including United Polaris, United Premium Plus and our high-premium Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and continues to reshape our network in the midst of a radically different demand environment, making the most of rapidly changing economic and passenger trends."

Quayle, also a former Vice President on United's network planning team, played a key role for the airline through the pandemic, leading the airline from just 10 daily international flights in early 2020 to now becoming the flag carrier of the U.S. as the largest international carrier in the country, with the largest trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific networks, as well as holding the position as the number one carrier to Central America.

Sarah Murphy

As the new leader of the Global Sourcing team, Murphy will leverage her experience leading teams in United's finance and operating groups and will build upon the procurement team's track record of success in driving efficiencies among the airline's vendors and suppliers to deliver for United's employees, customers and the communities it serves.

"With Sarah's extensive operating and capital budget expertise, and her deep knowledge of our operations, she is uniquely positioned to enhance our ability to source the goods and services we need in order to transform the customer experience and change the way people think about United while protecting the company's bottom line," said Laderman.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website. 
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to  purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

 

 

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com

United Plans Largest Domestic Schedule Since March 2020

December schedule includes new connections between the Midwest and warm weather cities like Las Vegas and Orlando as well as nearly 70 daily flights to ski destinations, including new service between Orange County and Aspen
By United Newsroom, October 07, 2021

CHICAGO, Oct. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United today announced that it will fly its biggest domestic schedule since the start of the pandemic to meet an expected surge in holiday travel, with an emphasis on connecting the Midwest to warm weather cities like Las Vegas and Orlando as well as offering nearly 70 daily flights to ski destinations, including new service between Orange County and Aspen.

According to United, holiday travel flight searches on united.com and the airline's app are up 16%, compared to 2019. The airline expects the busiest travel days for the Thanksgiving holiday will be Wednesday, November 24 and Sunday, November 28, while popular days for winter holiday travel are expected to be Thursday, December 23 and Sunday, January 2.

The airline plans to offer more than 3,500 daily domestic flights in December, representing 91% of its domestic capacity compared to 2019.

"We're seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow," said Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning and scheduling at United. "We know families and friends are eager to reunite this holiday season, which is why we're thrilled to add new flights that will help them connect and celebrate together."

In December, United will begin new direct flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix from Cleveland, and to Orlando from Indianapolis. The carrier also will resume eight popular direct flights from Midwest cities, including routes to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando and Tampa, offering the most mainline departures the airline has flown from Cleveland since 2014 including direct service to Nassau and Cancun. United will offer up to 195 daily flights to 12 destinations in Florida this winter, the most flights to the Sunshine State in company history. United is also resuming direct flights from Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh to Fort Myers – which were some of the airline's most popular point-to-point flights last winter.

Customers who prefer fresh powder can enjoy more flights to ski destinations with United than any other carrier. The airline offers 66 daily flights to over a dozen ski destinations across the U.S., including brand new service beginning this December between Orange County and Aspen. This winter season, United will have flights to Aspen/Snowmass, Bishop/Mammoth, Bozeman/Big Sky, Eagle/Vail, Kalispell, Gunnison/Crested Butte, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Jackson Hole, Montrose/Telluride, Reno/Tahoe, Sun Valley from its hub airports.

Earlier this year, United announced that it will add 150 flights to warm-weather destinations this winter season. All of these flights and more are available now on united.com and United's mobile app.

Committed to Ensuring a Safe Journey

United is committed to putting health and safety at the forefront of every customer's journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness through its United CleanPlus℠ program. United has teamed up with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to redefine cleaning and health safety procedures from check-in to landing and has implemented more than a dozen new policies, protocols and innovations designed with the safety of customers and employees in mind. Customers can review COVID-19 entry requirements, find local testing options and upload any required testing and vaccination records for domestic and international travel, all in United's Travel Ready Center. United was the first airline to integrate all these features into its mobile app and website.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website.
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com

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