2018 Travel Hotspots - United Hub
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5 travel hotspots you don't want to miss in 2018

By Bob Cooper

Even seasoned travelers can rattle off countless places they still want to go. But there are only so many trips you can take each year—so where should you go in 2018? Here are a few of the best choices. Even if you've been to some of these cities, like Chicago and New Orleans, there are good reasons why you should go back in the coming year.

Church in Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

Don't go to Chile in 2018 just because it's the bicentennial of the country's declaration of independence from Spain. Go for all the other reasons why it's one of the best destinations in the Americas. There's a hotel boom in bustling Santiago—and it's within a 90-minute drive of world-class wine regions (notably the Casablanca and Maipo Valleys), several great beaches, the culturally dazzling city of Valparaiso (where the historic quarter is a World Heritage Site), one of Chile's many observatories (Pailalen) and Andes foothills hikes. Plus, Chile's stable democracy makes it one of the hemisphere's safest and most prosperous countries. But don't forget that our winter is Chile's summer—so it's best to go soon.

Traffic in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Illinois also celebrates its bicentennial year in 2018, with events planned all year in Chicago and statewide that climax with a celebrity-studded bash at Chicago's United Center on December 3. Another reason to visit is the red-hot cultural scene, which has heated up even further with the 2017 opening of the American Writers Museum and performances of “Hamilton" at the CIBC Theatre through April 2018. The Chicago Riverwalk and 26-mile-long Lakefront Trail have both been newly expanded for the outdoors crowd. And it's never too early to get Cubs tickets, with Wrigley Field sellouts as routine as the winds that whip in from Lake Michigan.

Belfast city hall in North Ireland

Belfast, North Ireland

Belfast and the nearby Causeway Coast were named best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet, and there are many reasons. A city tormented by violence for decades during “The Troubles" (tours that trace this history are now offered) has become a safe and satisfying tourist destination. The Titanic Belfast museum is the main attraction in The Titanic Quarter, Northern Ireland's biggest attraction, where you can now stay at the new Titanic-themed Titanic Hotel. As for the Causeway Coast to the north—where visitors can tour the Old Bushmills Distillery—viewers of “Game of Thrones" will feel right at home. Many scenes were filmed there, with “Game of Thrones" tours—by bus, van, bike and boat—a popular diversion.

Balcony with plants in New Orleans French Quarter

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Southern city that knows how to party has one more excuse in 2018: the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans by the French. Count on even more celebrating than usual during Mardi Gras (February 2-13), but also throughout the year at dozens of events. They kick off with Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve Countdown to Tricentennial, the only event in a Central Time Zone city to be featured in the Ryan Seacrest-hosted telecast, with a major concert at Jackson Square and fireworks over the Mississippi River. But it will also be “Big Easy" to take in other tricentennial events during the year, ranging from ballets and a “burlesque opera" to special art exhibits and jazz concerts.

Aerial view of Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

In Taiwan, you can see nearly all of the kinds of places one might find in China, but it's small enough that you can drive the length of the island country in a day—though that wouldn't allow time to stop at any of the dozens of beaches that line both coasts, or to explore the volcanic mountains, lakes or national parks in the island's lightly populated interior. In the main city of Taipei are attractions that include Tapei 101 (a 101-story tower topped by a viewing platform), countless temples, and at Liberty Square, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the National Theatre and the National Concert Hall.

If you go

United Airlines offers nonstop flights from U.S. cities to all of these hotspots with the exception of Belfast which you can reach via Dublin. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan a trip.

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

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