Three Perfect Days: Lisbon
Story by Boyd Farrow | Photography by Pedro Guimarães | Hemispheres Magazine July 2016
It's easy to see why so many people are besotted with Lisbon. It's as gorgeous as Paris, without the attitude; it's as enchanting as Istanbul, without the traffic; and it has the vibrancy of Berlin, with better weather. Each year, more than 4 million visitors come to the city—home to a mere 550,000 people—to get lost in its lively neighborhoods, marvel at its exquisite architecture, and indulge in its thriving culinary and cultural scenes. Indeed, many are moving here permanently, lured in part by the proliferating startup companies, but also by the way of life. The Portuguese capital is steeped in history, much of which concerns the devastating earthquake of 1755 and the subsequent reconstruction—but this former naval power is in the midst of a different kind of revival, one that has as much to do with the spirit of the place as it does with the infrastructure. Famously gloomy Lisbonites, it seems, are rediscovering their sense of fun.
Day 1 Reclining in my Empire-style suite at the Pestana Palace—a fondant-iced mansion in the riverside district of Belém—I'm torn. Do I go for a dip in the garden pool or read the paper in my clawfoot tub? I don't often get to soak under a chandelier. I can swim later.
Breakfast is in a salon that has even more frescoes than my room. Anywhere else, the monster ham burdening the buffet table would be a talking point. I refill my plate so many times I'm pretty sure a cherub is glaring at me.
A short cab ride takes me to Torre de Belém, a dinky fort at the mouth of the Tagus. A launching point for many naval adventures, the structure bears as much symbolism as Game of Thrones—and is just as camp. Maritime motifs meet Moorish and Italian touches in an exuberant architectural mashup known as Manueline, after the 16th-century king Manuel I. Near the fort's tiny drawbridge, a busker plays the Star Wars theme on an electric violin.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos, in Belém
In the 1520s, the fort was farther from the shore, but the 1755 earthquake, which leveled much of the city, also shifted the river. A stroll along its bank leads to Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a 180-foot-tall, ship-shaped monument to the Age of Discovery. Nearby is Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the blingiest symbol of Portugal's status in that era. With its gables and pinnacles, its lavish altar and atmospheric chapel, the Mosteiro could rival any cathedral in the world. The big draw is its network of cloisters, not least because the delicate stonework withstood the quake. As I pass through a vaulted archway, a boy thwacks a soccer ball against a spindly column. The structure endures this, too.
Outside is another hallowed site, Pastéis de Belém, which has made Portugal's insanely delicious pastel de nata custard tarts since 1837. You see the line snaking around the tiled shopfront long before the buttery waft hits you. With monklike abstemiousness, I buy just one and realize my mistake with the first warm and wobbly bite.
Next to the monastery is Lisbon's blandest building—though, admittedly, the Fundação Centro Cultural de Belém was built to accommodate EU officials. At its core is the Museu Berardo, which houses one of the world's most impressive modern art collections, with around 250 works from the likes of Picasso, Warhol, and Dalí. Amazingly, security seems nonexistent. I resist the temptation to leave with a Miró in my tote.
José Avillez, chef
A 20-minute ride on a pleasantly tilting yellow tram takes me to Pap'Açorda, a popular restaurant recently transplanted to premises above the Mercado da Ribeira, the city's historic food market. Pap'Açorda is named after its specialty, açorda, a massively filling bread-and-vegetable stew. I get one as a starter, followed by a fillet steak, sautéed Portuguese-style in wine and bacon. Dessert is chocolate mousse, which the waiter serves from a mixing bowl, encouraging me to scrape off the spoon. It would be rude not to.
I walk off the mousse by exploring Praça do Comércio, the mosaic-cobbled waterfront square, where custard-colored 18th-century buildings flank a statue of King José I. At the northern end looms the Arco da Rua Augusta, a 100-foot-high, dizzyingly ornate archway celebrating the city's post-earthquake reconstruction. From its frilly summit, reached via corkscrew staircases and an elevator, I survey Baixa, the dense downtown heart of the city, and the rust-roofed clutter of Chiado and Bairro Alto. Chiado, with its theaters, bookshops, and cafés, has long been seen as the city's Montmartre, a magnet for creative types. Bairro Alto is known for its bars, graffiti, and laundry draped on ornate balconies.
“Portuguese food culture is so rich because it is based on stories and history—two things we are hardly short on—and of course there's our fantastic climate. What the Portuguese are not so good at is promoting ourselves. This is why there are French and Italian restaurants everywhere." —José Avillez
No matter where you go here, everything is far more beautiful than it needs to be. The streets are lit by Baroque lanterns. The trams are basically Art Deco cocktail cabinets on rails. Refreshment kiosks are fairground carousels. That tiled facade? The entrance to an underground garage. The shop with the carved columns? Oh, they repair dishwashers. That magnificent Eiffel Tower–like structure? That's the Elevador de Santa Justa; it transports passengers in polished wooden carriages to a wrought-iron skyway, so they can explore the sublime ruins of Carmo Convent without schlepping up the hill.
It's almost a relief to duck into the Igreja de São Domingos, the world's unluckiest church. Having been patched up after two major quakes, the interior was destroyed again by a fire in 1959. This time they just left it: a cavernous, sooty—and poignant—shell. As I leave, a heavily sweating man enters and crosses himself so vigorously I suspect he might have done something really bad.
Outside, the air is aromatic with dried cod, shards of which are stacked in the crammed Manteigaria Silva produce shop, as they have been for more than a century. Inside, the ancient Mr. Silva points to a framed photograph dated 1923. “My father," he explains. “The shop looks exactly the same."
The bustle of Rua Augusta
I've arranged to meet 36-year-old super-chef José Avillez outside the 18th-century São Carlos opera house. Avillez owns five restaurants within a mile of here, including the two-Michelin-starred Belcanto—a first for Lisbon—and a snazzy pizza joint. He lives in Chiado, too, with his young family. “It's my favorite area," he says. “Everything you need is within a few blocks—a cinema, ordinary shops, an old-fashioned barber. Lisbon is not showy or frantic like other cities. You still see people getting their shoes shined in the street, or their umbrellas repaired." We pass a chichi interior design store, and Avillez frowns. “That's new."
While Lisbon is clearly becoming a global city, Avillez says locals are increasingly returning to tradition. “The recent economic woes reminded people what is important: food, family, history, shared experiences." We pass a group of youngsters stumbling into a bar. “See," he says, drily. “We are learning to go out and enjoy ourselves."
For dinner, I visit Avillez's Mini Bar, in Chiado's old Teatro São Luiz, now an arts venue. The tasting menu is as much magic show as gastronomy. It begins with the “Caipirinha," a small green sphere with a crisp shell that bursts in my mouth, and continues through several courses that include a Ferrero Rocher made of foie gras and a scoop of spicy raw tuna in a rolled seaweed cone. It ends with lime cream and dry ice inside another green sphere.
Feeling pretty spherical myself, I'm ready to roll down the hill to my bed. I vow to eat far less tomorrow.
Day 2 I'm having breakfast at Delfina, an all-day Portuguese deli in the AlmaLusa, a stylish hotel recently opened on Praça do Município. I'm here with Miguel Simões de Almeida, who acquired the property in the aftermath of Lisbon's most recent quake—the financial one of 2008. The 18th-century building, with its stone floors and exposed beams, had stood empty for years. Simões de Almeida wants my opinion on the entire menu, which is a worry. Everything's great—including the two types of açorda—but the dishes keep on coming. I smile at the waiter, but my eyes are screaming.
I plod outside and cab it to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which houses a vast collection of Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian, and European objects. I browse a mishmash of busy rugs and dainty furniture until I can browse no more. It's like being in Ancient Ikea. In the garden outside, I glimpse a rhinoceros. I'm hallucinating. No, it's part of the sculpture park. Close by, in the modern wing, I also spot a Renoir and a Hockney.
From here, I walk south to Mãe D'Água Amoreiras, the “temple of water" that was once Lisbon's main reservoir. The interior comprises a huge marble chamber with central columns and a deep, clear pool replenished by a waterfall fountain. Now I want that swim—but instead I make do with the view from the building's panoramic terrace. With all these interwoven roofs to scamper over, surely they'll shoot a Bourne movie here.
The Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora and the rooftops of Alfama
Just west of Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon's chic shopping boulevard, is leafy Principe Real, which has recently seen an influx of antique shops, designer boutiques, and well-groomed men walking French bulldogs. Several people proudly tell me this is “Lisbon's Soho," sweetly unaware that Soho is now all chain stores and underwear billboards. Here, every inch of pavement is abuzz with artisanal startups and collectives, many showcased in the Embaixada, a new emporium fashioned out of the Venetian-style Ribeiro da Cunha Palace.
I pop into a padaria (bakery) for a caffeine hit and discover that for an extra buck I can get a ham and cheese sandwich. I buckle. As I guiltily chew my second breakfast at the stand-up counter, I realize the ceiling is painted with an exquisite fresco of some 18th-century babe. With bakeries like this, who needs palaces?
Francisco Rebelo de Andrade, nightlife entrepreneur
Just east of here is Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara, a lovely lookout terrace that has gardens, a fountain, and a load of statues I'm too tired to investigate. I'm starting to understand that in Lisbon the phrase “amazing view" is redundant. I pop into the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, built in 1708 and rebuilt after the quake. It's low-key on the outside, like Liberace's boudoir within.
I buy some Cohibas from the nearby Casa Havaneza, a grand old cigar store next to A Brasileira, an Art Deco café that opened in 1905. Its historic rival, the 19th-century Café Benard, is two doors away. Many locals say the Benard has better coffee, but visitors are inevitably drawn to A Brasileira's sunny outdoor tables. I sit at one and am immediately set upon by a toothless accordion player. The Benard crowd looks on smugly.
“The financial crash actually did a lot of good. It made young people very proactive and entrepreneurial. It seems everyone here is launching their own business. There is a real creative buzz in Lisbon now, which feeds through the whole city." —Francisco Rebelo de Andrade
Now, onward to the Castle! Well, to lunch, inside the castle walls—at Casa do Leão, a stone-arched restaurant on the site where the Romans kept their lions. First, I have to catch my breath. As if the hills leading to the Castelo de São Jorge weren't steep enough, security-conscious royals have periodically increased the gradient. I recuperate over a seafood risotto, cod steak with vegetables, and most of the dessert trolley. There are no lions here these days, but I do spot a couple of peacocks.
It turns out that most of what I've been admiring for two days was rebuilt in the 1920s, based on medieval plans. While the oldest part dates from the sixth century—before the Visigoths and Moors—most of the walls collapsed in 1755. I light a Cohiba and take in the view for a bit. Then I hop on a tram back to the AlmaLusa to freshen up. I'm hoping Simões de Almeida hasn't left a selection of mints on my pillow for me to try.
Shortly afterward, I'm back in the hilltop muddle of Bairro Alto—life in Lisbon really is a roller coaster. The cab driver is perplexed dropping me at a seven-story parking lot. I squeeze into a graffitied elevator with six excitable Eastern European lads and ascend to Park, the rooftop bar, which, inevitably, offers fine views of the city, including the bell towers of the nearby Santa Catarina church.
Among the improbably beautiful people at Park is Francisco Rebelo de Andrade, a former lawyer who has augmented his food and club empire with the annual music festival Lisb-ON. “We don't have a nightlife in Lisbon," he says over vodka tonics. “We have a multiday life. People surf, work hard, eat well, then go out." On cue, three attractive young women breeze past. “People aren't moping around listening to fado anymore," he adds. “There is a real get-up-and-go spirit."
The ruins of the Convento da Ordem do Carmo, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake
Speaking of get up and go: Dinner tonight is at Duplex, in Cais do Sodré, once one of Lisbon's seedier areas but now transformed by the forces of hipsterdom. The moody, modern restaurant is the latest from hot young chef Nuno Bergonse. I opt to eat at the chef's table, in the tiny kitchen, where the music is loud and the tattooed chefs take the odd slug of wine. The result is creative comfort food: scallops with hazelnuts and coconut, grilled octopus with a vegetable fricassè. Afterward, Bergonse joins me for a drink and a mille-feuille with honey custard. “We make exactly what we want to eat," he says. “That's our business plan."
For all its rejuvenation, Cais do Sodré is still raw in places—hipsters in other cities can only dream of such soulful decay. I roam around for a bit, stopping off at a couple of artfully decrepit bars, including one that, as far as I can tell, doesn't have a name. I have a shot of ginjinha, a traditional sticky-sweet cherry liqueur. Then I have a couple more. Then I leave the bar-with-no-name while I can still remember my own.
Day 3 Midmorning at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, and I'm jumping up and down with some children, trying to jiggle a priceless antique. (Hey, they started it.) The wonderfully named Monstrance of Belém is a sacrament repository bearing figures of the apostles under a swinging dove. The kids want to see it move. Clearly, all these big meals are paying off: The enameled bird practically leaves the building.
An hour ago I left my third hotel, the Santiago de Alfama—a delightful boutique in a 15th-century palace near Castelo de São Jorge—to wander the knotted streets of Alfama, Lisbon's oldest quarter. Every turn brings another crooked alleyway, another expanse of exquisite tilework, another ledge of precarious flowerpots, another near-vertical flight of steps. Thankfully, I'm heading down.
Few buildings have had such a tortuous history as the Igreja de Santa Engrácia, whose sky-high, chalk-white dome is a fixture of the Alfama skyline. Begun in 1681, the church wasn't completed until 1966, as a succession of monarchs and municipalities lost interest. Today, it's a pantheon of national heroes, such as the 15th-century explorer-by-proxy Henry the Navigator and Amália Rodrigues, the country's most famous fado diva.
The Praça do Comércio, seen from the top of the Arco Rua da Augusta
Next, I check out the Sé de Lisboa, the city's oldest cathedral. Though its Romanesque towers have been a landmark since 1150, its significance has increased with the discovery of Roman ruins in the cloisters. After I've explored these pre-Christian relics, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, opened a mere 132 years ago, feels like an Apple store. The museum has several major artworks, spanning from medieval times until now, including pieces by Bosch, Dürer, and Raphael. Portugal's most important painting—Nuno Gonçalves's Veneration of St. Vincent, which depicts prominent 15th-century Portuguese figures—is also here. To my eye, it looks as if one face has been repeated, like a Baldwin family photo. I round off my visit with a stroll through the cathedral's beautiful statue garden, with its view across Alcântara's harbor.
After a rustic ham sandwich and a hot chocolate at Café Tati, a shabby-chic joint in a warehouse close to the Cais do Sodré railway terminal, I take the short train trip to Cascais, a coastal suburb 20 miles west that has long been a summer playground for Lisboners.
In its psychedelically mosaicked town square, I meet Miguel Champalimaud, of the Montez Champalimaud wine dynasty, which owns a nearby equestrian center and five-star hotel. We spend an hour pootling around the cobbled old town, but Champalimaud wants to show me the sea. “This is the best thing about Lisbon," he says as his Volvo tears up the coastal highway.
Miguel Champalimaud, hotelier
We pass Praia da Crismina, a small, sandy strip bracketed by cliffs, before reaching Praia do Guincho, which is popular with surfers. There are about 30 people out on boards right now, and they are on them only briefly. We lounge in the sun for a while, savoring the salty air. Then, to my dismay, Champalimaud produces a wetsuit. “Do you surf?" he says, politely ignoring my physique. “Only the Internet," I reply. “Who's hungry?"
Lunch is a feast of fresh hake fillets with cockle rice, consumed on a terrace overlooking the Atlantic at Monte Mar, one of the world's top seafood restaurants. Watching all that surfing has given me an appetite. “Lisbon is so crowded," Champalimaud says, as if it were Tokyo. “Many visitors are now staying in Cascais and going into Lisbon at night. My family has a big responsibility to preserve the beauty of this place and restrict development."
“Everyone leaves Lisbon impressed with our work-life balance. We work hard, but we will go surfing before going to the office, or leave the office to enjoy the sunset. We are also conservative: We might go out on Saturday night, but most people still sit down with their family for Sunday lunch." —Miguel Champalimaud
Fish is still on my mind when I return to the city. Never one to pass up a good cannery, I'm back in Baixa to visit the Loja das Conservas,or House of Canned Goods, a colorful shop-cum-museum that celebrates Portugal's love affair with seafood. There are about 300 varieties of canned fish for sale here, each container adorned with vivid colors, retro images, and exquisite typography. There is also a vending machine shaped like a giant tin and a machine that lets you can anything you like. “Anything?" I ask, and the assistant eyes me suspiciously.
Carrying several tins of incorruptible seafood, I swing by Rua do Carmo to buy gloves at Luvaria Ulisses. The shop has a big reputation, but is only four feet wide. The owner, Carlos Carvalho, studies me for two seconds before stretching a fine black calfskin pair over my hands. In this cubbyhole are 1,200 pairs in tiny drawers. “Organization is everything," he says. I pop my purchase into my pocket, suddenly aware that my fingers smell faintly of sardines.
From here, I head to hilly Mouraria, the former Moorish ghetto, which still resembles a medieval medina. The cobbled Rua São Cristóvão, named after the sweet 16th-century church at one end, might be the last place you'd expect to find the experimental and exceptional cuisine served at Leopold, a white-tiled former bakery. Then again, six months ago a gallery called Ó! opened a few doors along, and the area is being tipped as the city's next hotspot.
The beach at Praia do Guincho
For a maximum of 12 people, chef Tiago Feio offers a seven-course menu that reinterprets Portuguese standards. For one thing, there is no stove here. Instead, all food is either served raw or cooked the sous vide way—placed in vacuum bags, given a hot bath, then seared if necessary. The idea is that the flavors are preserved more fully, and the first bite bears this out. I have blowtorched beef, with mizuna and seaweed, which is so good that only the proximity of other diners stops me from licking my plate. The same goes for the soft-boiled egg with shiitakes, buckwheat, and thyme, and the banana cream dessert with shavings of São Jorge cheese. The most impressive thing of all is how they carry the ingredients up all those steep hills.
I leave Leopold after midnight, but the air is still balmy, bathed in a yellow glow. As I stroll toward my hotel, I hear a twanging acoustic guitar. It's late, but there are moments in Lisbon when you hardly know what century it is, let alone what time. I find the source of the music—a small, dim bar on a ludicrously precipitous hill—and head inside. As Vasco da Gama might have said, “It would be a shame to turn back now."Berlin-based writer Boyd Farrow was so thoroughly fed while in Lisbon that he can now do a passing impression of the city's Eighth Hill.
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When the pandemic began, United Cargo knew it would be critical to utilize its fleet, network and industry-leading pharmaceutical handling processes to transport a COVID-19 vaccine when the time came.
Connecting vaccines to the world: United responds to mass distribution effort
On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.
Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.
"United's cargo service has helped safely deliver many essential goods during this pandemic, but there is no shipment that gives me more personal pride than helping bring this life-saving vaccine to our communities," said Jan Krems, United Cargo President. "While we still face a long road ahead the promise of a widely distributed vaccine gives us hope that we are one step closer to putting this pandemic behind us and moving forward together toward a brighter future."
And United is shipping more than just vaccines to help during the pandemic in keeping the lines of commerce flowing and goods getting to where they need to be. Since mid-March, United has operated 9,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 435 million pounds of cargo. By using a combination of cargo-only flights and passenger flights, United Cargo has also transported 80 million pounds of medical supplies this year.
In coordination with our shipping and logistics partners, United will continue to distribute COVID-19 treatments to destinations throughout its network. The real heroes are the scientists who created these life-saving vaccines and the frontline workers who are not only administering them, but also helping care for and tend to those suffering from this virus. United is proud to do its part in helping to get this precious cargo to the people and communities who need them, and looks forward to doing our part in the months ahead.
United Cargo responds to COVID-19 challenges, prepares for what's next
September 30, 2020
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, United Cargo has supported a variety of customers within the healthcare industry for over 10 years. Three key solutions – TempControl, LifeGuard and QuickPak – protect the integrity of vital shipments such as precision medicine, pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical equipment and vaccines. By utilizing processes like temperature monitoring, thermodynamic management, and priority boarding and handling, United Cargo gives customers the peace of mind that their shipments will be protected throughout their journey.
With the global demand for tailored pharmaceutical solutions at an all-time high, we've made investments to help ensure we provide the most reliable air cargo options for cold chain shipping. In April this year, we became the first U.S. carrier to lease temperature-controlled shipping containers manufactured by DoKaSch Temperature Solutions. We continue to partner with state-of-the-art container providers to ensure we have options that meet our customers' ever-changing needs.
"Providing safe air cargo transport for essential shipments has been a top priority since the pandemic began. While the entire air cargo industry has had its challenges, I'm proud of how United Cargo has adapted and thrived despite a significant reduction in network capacity and supply," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "We remain committed to helping our customers make it through the pandemic, as well as to doing everything we can to be prepared for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution when the time comes."
Our entire team continues to prioritize moving critical shipments as part of our commitment to supporting the global supply chain. We've assembled a COVID readiness task team to ensure we have the right people in place and are preparing our airports as we get ready for the industry-wide effort that comes next.
In cooperation with our partners all over the world, United Cargo has helped transport nearly 145 million pounds of medical supplies to aid in the fight against COVID-19, using a combination of cargo-only flights and passenger flights. To date, United Cargo has operated more than 6,300 cargo-only flights and has transported more than 213 million pounds of cargo worldwide.
United Cargo responds to global needs, celebrates 5000th cargo-only flight
August 18, 2020
By Jan Krems, President, United Cargo
In mid-March, United took steps to manage the historic impact of COVID-19 and began flying a portion of our Boeing 777 and 787 fleets as dedicated cargo-only flights to transport air freight to and from U.S. hubs and key international business locations. More than ever, providing reliable cargo transportation was vitally important and I'm proud say our United Cargo team stepped up to support our customers.
Although we're facing the most challenging environment our industry has ever experienced, I'm very excited to celebrate a major milestone. Since March 19, United has operated over 5,000 cargo-only flights transporting nearly 170 million pounds of cargo on these flights alone. With an increased need to keep the global supply chain moving, and an even more urgent need for medical supplies, we knew we had to utilize our network capabilities and personnel to move vital shipments, such as medical kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals and medical equipment between U.S. hubs and key international destinations.
In cooperation with freight forwarders and partners all over the world, United Cargo helped transport more than 107 million pounds of medical supplies to aid in the fight against COVID-19 using a combination of cargo-only flights as well as passenger flights.
To keep military families connected, we increased the frequency of cargo-only flights between the U.S. and military bases in various parts of the world — including bases located in Guam, Kwajalein and several countries in Europe. We know how critically important it is for these families to stay connected, and I'm honored that we were able to utilize our network and our aircraft to fly nearly 3 million pounds of military supplies.
In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), our cargo teams 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 coronavirus pandemic.
United has played a critical role in keeping global supply chains stable during the pandemic as we deliver urgently needed goods around the world. These past few months have created challenges that I have never seen in my 30-plus years of experience working within the air cargo and freight forwarding industry. However, I'm proud of our teams for staying focused on our mission to provide high-quality service and to keep our customers connected with the goods they need most.
United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving
July 02, 2020
By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.
United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.
Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.
A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.
United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
United further expands cargo-only operations to key international markets
June 9, 2020
United has played a vital role in helping keep the global supply chains stable during the COVID-19 pandemic so urgently needed goods can get to the places that need them most.
In addition to current service from the U.S. to Asia, Australia, Europe, India, Latin America and the Middle East, we are proud to now offer cargo-only flights to key international markets including Dublin, Paris, Rome, Santiago and Zurich. These new routes will connect our freight customers and further extend our air cargo network throughout the world – for example connecting major pharmaceutical hubs in Europe and perishable markets in Latin America.
"Air cargo continues to be more important than ever," says United Cargo President Jan Krems. "This network expansion helps our customers continue to facilitate trade and contribute to global economic development and recovery. I'm proud of our team for mobilizing our cargo-only flights program that enables the shipment of critical goods that will support global economies."
Since we began our program March 19, we have completed more than 2,400 cargo-only flights, transporting over 77 million pounds of cargo. We have over 1,100 cargo-only flights scheduled for the month of June, operating between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities all over the world.
United's first flight carrying cargo in-cabin takes off
May 13, 2020
United continues to keep supply chains moving and to meet the demand for critical shipments around the globe. Recently, United received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry cargo in approved storage areas in the passenger cabin.
Our inaugural cargo-in-cabin flight flew from London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD) carrying over 4,200 pounds of mail in the passenger cabin, plus a full payload of freight in the belly of the aircraft. Initially, cargo-in-cabin shipments will be loaded on the 777 and 787 aircraft operating our cargo-only flights. We will continue to evaluate additional opportunities to use this space to meet the growing cargo demand.
"We send our sincere thanks to the FAA for working with our team to enable the transport of more critical goods on United's cargo-only flights," said Jan Krems, President of United Cargo. "By loading existing cabin storage areas with cargo and mail, we can move even more critical medical equipment, PPE, and other vital shipments the world needs to manage through the pandemic."
United's cargo-only network continues to expand in order to help bring vital shipments to the people that need it most. We're now offering service between six of our U.S. hubs and 18 airports worldwide: CTU, HKG, ICN, MEL, PEK, PVG, SIN, SYD and TPE in the Asia-Pacific; AMS, BOM, BRU, DUB, FRA, LHR, TLV and ZRH in EMEIA; and SJU in the Caribbean.
Since the start of its cargo-only flights program March 19, United has operated over 1,300 cargo-only flights transporting over 44 million pounds of cargo.
For more information, visit unitedcargo.com.
United expands cargo-only flights to additional global destinations
April 16, 2020
Getting vital goods, especially medical relief supplies, into the hands of the businesses and people who need them has never been more critically important. To meet the overwhelming demand, United began operating cargo-only flights on March 19. Since we began using Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft from United's passenger fleet for this purpose, we have operated over 400 flights carrying more than 6 million kilos of cargo.
"With the global community in need, we are doing everything we can to keep supply chains moving worldwide and support the battle against COVID-19," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "We're proud to play an active role in connecting vital medical supplies like test kits and personal protective equipment with healthcare professionals around the world."
We are now operating more than 150 cargo-only flights per week between six of our U.S. hubs and 13 cities worldwide: CTU, HKG, PEK, PVG, SYD and TPE in the Asia Pacific; AMS, BRU, DUB, FRA and LHR in Europe; SJU in the Caribbean and TLV in the Middle East. We expect to add new cities soon and will continue to expand our cargo-only flights program.
|Hub||Cargo-only flights operating through May|
ORD - AMS (Amsterdam)
ORD - FRA (Frankfurt)
ORD - HKG (Hong Kong)
ORD - LHR (London)
ORD - NRT (Tokyo Narita) - PEK (Beijing)
IAH - AMS (Amsterdam)
IAD - FRA (Frankfurt)
|Los Angeles (LAX)||
LAX - HKG (Hong Kong)
LAX - LHR (London Heathrow)
LAX - NRT (Tokyo Narita) - PVG (Shanghai)
LAX - SYD (Sydney)
|New York/Newark (EWR)||
EWR - AMS (Amsterdam)
EWR - FRA (Frankfurt)
EWR - LHR (London)
|San Francisco (SFO)||
SFO - AMS (Amsterdam)
SFO - NRT (Tokyo Narita) - PEK (Beijing)
SFO - NRT (Tokyo Narita) - PVG (Shanghai)
SFO - NRT (Tokyo Narita) - TPE (Taipei)
SFO - TLV (Tel Aviv)
SFO - SYD (Sydney)
|Washington, D.C. (IAD)||
IAD - BRU (Brussels)
IAD - DUB (Dublin)
IAD - FRA (Frankfurt)
IAD - NRT (Tokyo Narita) - PEK (Beijing)
IAD - SJU (San Juan)
Flight details are subject to change, for the most up-to-date schedules, please visit https://ual.unitedcargo.com/covid-updates.
Cargo-only flights support U.S. military and their families
March 30, 2020
We are helping to keep military families connected by increasing the frequency of cargo-only flights between the United States and military bases in various parts of the world — including Guam, Kwajalein, and several countries in Europe. Last week we began operating a minimum of 40 cargo-only flights weekly — using Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft to fly freight and mail to and from U.S. hubs and key international business and military locations.
We are going above and beyond to find creative ways to transport fresh food and produce, as well as basic essentials from the U.S. mainland to military and their families in Guam/Micronesia. On Saturday, March 28, we operated an exclusive cargo-only B777-300 charter to transport nearly 100,000 pounds of food essentials to Guam to support our troops.
In addition, we move mail year-round all over the world. In response to COVID-19, and in support of the military members and their families overseas, we implemented a charter network, transporting military mail to Frankfurt, which is then transported all over Europe and the Middle East. Since March 20, we have flown 30,000+ pounds of military mail every day between Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Frankfurt (FRA). On the return flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, we have carried an average of 35,000 pounds of mail to help families stay connected.
"Keeping our military families connected with the goods they need, and keeping them connected with loved ones to feel a sense of home, is of critical importance. As a company that has long supported our military families and veterans, our teams are proud to mobilize to lend a hand." — United Cargo President Jan Krems.
Our cargo-only flights support customers, keep planes moving
March 22, 2020
We have begun flying a portion of our Boeing 777 and 787 fleet as dedicated cargo charter aircraft to transfer freight to and from U.S. hubs and key international business locations. The first of these freight-only flights departed on March 19 from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) with the cargo hold completely full, with more than 29,000 lbs. of goods.
Getting critical goods into the hands of the businesses and people who need them most is extremely important right now. To support customers, employees and the global economy, we will initially operate a schedule of 40 cargo charters each week targeting international destinations and will continue to seek additional opportunities.
With coronavirus (COVID-19) creating an increased need to keep the global supply chain moving, we are utilizing our network capabilities and personnel to get vital shipments, such as medical supplies, to areas that need them most.
"Connecting products to people around the world is the United Cargo mission," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "That role has never been more crucial than during the current crisis. Our team is working around the clock to provide innovative solutions for our customers and support the global community."
On average, we ship more than 1 billion pounds of cargo every year on behalf of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit unitedcargo.com.
CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.
"This year has posed unprecedented challenges for us all and has been especially devastating to some of the most vulnerable members within the communities we serve," said Suzi Cabo, managing director of global community engagement, United Airlines. "The need for charitable giving has not stopped during the pandemic, and neither has United. This Giving Tuesday marks an opportunity for us to all come together for the greater good and we are proud to provide a platform to support organizations with upcoming travel needs that will enable them to continue supporting the communities they serve."
The launch of these campaigns is part of United's ongoing Miles on a Mission program, which began in October 2019 and has raised more than 92 million miles to-date. Past campaigns have helped organizations travel children for life-saving medical treatment and unite parents with newly adopted children from foreign countries. Participating non-profits have 28-days to reach their mile raising goals through the platform.
The organizations that are raising miles in this campaign include:
- College to Congress: The organization provides support including travel for disadvantaged college students who otherwise could not afford to intern in Washington, D.C.
- Thurgood Marshall College Fund: This is the only national organization representing America's 47 publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and the nearly 300,000 students that attend them each year. The miles raised will cover the travel expenses to and from campus for students unable to afford them.
- My Block, My Hood, My City: This organization provides underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood. Miles will be used to fund educational trips for Chicago youths to help them gain a greater understanding of the world outside of their comfort zones.
- Compass to Care: The non-profit ensures all children, whose parents have a financial need, can access life-saving cancer treatment. Compass to Care is raising miles to fund travel to get children from their homes to hospitals for cancer treatment.
- Luke's Wings: This organization is dedicated to the support of service members who have been wounded in battle. Raised miles will be used to purchase plane tickets for families to visit wounded soldiers recovering in Army medical centers.
- Rainbow Railroad USA: The organization's mission is to help persecuted LGBTQI+ individuals around the world travel to safety as they seek a haven from persecution. Miles will support the organization's core Emergency Travel Support program.
This year, United's legal partner Kirkland & Ellis will also be donating $50,000 to My Block, My Hood, My City and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Other organizations launching campaigns on the platform include: Sisters of the Skies, Inc., Up2Us Sports, Airline Ambassadors International, Austin Smiles, AWS Foundation, Crazy Horse Memorial, FLYTE, Higher Orbits, Lily's Hope Foundation, Miles4Migrants, Support Utila Inc. and Watts of Love. MileagePlus members can also donate to United's 20 other existing partner charities including, Airlink, American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish, Shriners Hospitals; Clean the World, Special Olympics and more. To learn more or donate to these organizations, please visit donate.mileageplus.com.
Visit www.united.com/everyactioncounts to learn more about our pledge to put our people and planes to work for the greater good.
SOURCE United Airlines
In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.
Whether it's visiting friends and relatives, traveling for work or simply exploring a new corner of the world, we all have a reason as to why we fly. No matter the reason you fly, the miles you earn and donate help our Miles on a Mission partners soar. Take a look at how some of our partner organizations have put our MileagePlus Members' donations to work.
"To deliver life-saving cells and hope to Be the Match patients, like me!"
"These donated miles will support Born This Way Foundation's mission of supporting the wellness of LGBTQ+ youth — and all young people — by expanding access to mental health resources and promoting kindness."
"Combined Arms is uniting communities to accelerate the impact of veterans and their families."
"To help children get to life-saving cancer treatment"
"We fly to save. We fly to save lives, saving homeless veterans anywhere, any time."
"Gift of Adoption flies to unite children with their families — giving them a chance to thrive!"
"Holocaust Museum Houston flies United to educate people about the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Holocaust Museum Houston flies United to connect teachers with Holocaust and human rights educational resources."
"We fly today so those living with ALS can have a better tomorrow."
"At Lazarex we fly patients with cancer to clinical trials for hope and a chance at life!"
"Donate your miles to help refugees reach safe homes for the holidays."
"To get vital relief and recovery aid where it's needed most!"
"We fly to educate and empower girls in Peru."
"To collaborate with partners & promote that #FoodIsMedicine"
"United helps our medical teams deliver hope and support when people need it most!"
"We fly to bring hope to 2 million people around the globe facing food insecurity."
"To make waves to fight cancer."
"Because every LGBTQ young person deserves to be valued, respected and loved for who they are."
"My team needs me now more than ever. I will be there for them!"
"Watts of Love brings solar light and hope to those living in the darkness of poverty!"
"To bring access to clean water for everyone that needs it."
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
Watch our most popular videos
This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.