Top 5 U.S. Island Getaways: Beaches and Beyond - United Hub
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Top 5 U.S. island getaways: Beaches and beyond

By Bob Cooper , September 09, 2016

An island getaway is always an appealing plan, but you don't have use your passport and trade your dollars for foreign currency — or wait for winter when everyone else goes. Here are five U.S. islands you'll enjoy visiting without having to travel to another country.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Unless you count islands within five miles of the U.S. mainland — Long Island, for example — Nantucket is the largest island off the East Coast. It's also far enough away to feel like a distant island even though it's only 25 miles from Cape Cod. Why go? First, there's the historic district of the island's only town (also called Nantucket), the whaling museum, the shipwreck museum and three lighthouses to visit. Second, there are the 23 beaches with good swimming, kayaking and surfing, and all of them can easily be reached on two wheels. Bikes can be rented in town and bike paths fan out over most of the 14-mile-long island, so it's easy to go car-less.

Harbor in Avalon, California

Catalina, California

One hour after departing Long Beach harbor aboard a Catalina Express ferry, you'll reach an island where L.A.'s traffic and pollution have vanished. Island traffic is mostly electric golf cart rentals and the air is ocean-cooled and clean. This will inspire you to hike into the hills of the 22-mile-long island (95 percent of it undeveloped), soar down a 4,000-foot series of ziplines over a canyon, take an ocean kayak out on the water — or just lay on the beach to people watch. Avalon, the town where you'll disembark, has many inns, restaurants, the historic Catalina Casino, the 1,184-seat Avalon Theatre (nightly movies) and the newly expanded Catalina Island Museum — which tells the history of the island, a haven for midcentury film stars.

Lighthouse on San Juan Island in Washington

San Juan, Washington

San Juan Island offers far more than cool breezes along its 73-mile shoreline. After the flight to Seattle, a nearly two-hour drive to Anacortes, and a one-hour scenic car ferry to Friday Harbor, you'll want to rest up at your inn for the days ahead. Lovers of the outdoors can be filled with whale-watching from land at Lime Kiln Point State Park (orcas visit through September) and strolling two-mile-long South Beach at American Camp, part of the island's San Juan Islands National Historic Park. Art-lovers will prefer the 20-acre San Juan Islands Sculpture Park and recently opened San Juan Islands Museum of Art. Additional attractions are The Whale Museum, wine-tasting, an alpaca ranch and a lavender farm.

Aerial View of Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu, Hawaii

“Hawaii Five-0" paints a distorted picture of Hawaii, which has the sixth-lowest crime rate and second-lowest murder rate of all 50 states. But safety is not the main reason why Hawaii's most populated island, Oahu, is a favorite of vacationers. The island's beaches are legendary, from big-wave surf spots on the North Shore to Honolulu's Waikiki, perfect for beginning surfers and advanced sunbathers. Rainforest hikes in the mountains are breathtaking. Family attractions are abundant, topped by the Polynesian Cultural Center and Kualoa Ranch. The blend of American, Asian and Native Hawaiian cultures is reflected in everything from the fusion cuisine to the fashion scene. And the energy of the Waikiki tourist district pulsates day and night, with new rooftop restaurants cropping up every week.

Ocean View, St. Thomas

St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

Unlike most Caribbean islands, no passport is required to visit St. Thomas, the most populous and popular of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The dollar and the English language have reigned for generations, with 2017 marking the centennial of U.S.V.I.'s admittance to the U.S. But the main reasons to visit are the dozens of beaches; snorkeling and kayaking in the aquamarine waters just off shore; Caribbean-cuisine restaurants and nightlife in the harbor city of Charlotte Amalie; and the views and exotic plants at Phantasea Tropical Botanic Garden (opened in 2015) in the mountains. There's also plenty of history — two castles named for infamous pirates and a Danish fort, all three built in the 17th century — if you can drag yourself away from the beach.

If you go

Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your island getaway.

Reflecting on Veterans Day: a message from our CEO Oscar Munoz

By Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines , November 11, 2019

Right now, around the world, brave members of America's armed forces are on duty, defending our freedom and upholding our values.

When not laser-focused on the mission at hand, they're looking forward to the day when their service to our nation is fulfilled and they can reunite with their families.

They are also imagining how they can use their hard-earned skills to build an exciting, rewarding and important career when they return home.

I want them to look no further than United Airlines.

That's why we are focused on recruiting, developing and championing veterans across our company, demonstrating to our returning women and men in uniform that United is the best possible place for them to put their training, knowledge, discipline and character to the noblest use.

They've developed their knowledge and skills in some of the worst of times. We hope they will use those skills to keep United performing at our best, all of the time.

That's why we are accelerating our efforts to onboard the best and the brightest, and substantially increasing our overall recruitment numbers each year.

We recently launched a new sponsorship program to support onboarding veterans into United and a new care package program to support deployed employees. It's one more reason why United continues to rank high - and rise higher - as a top workplace for veterans. In fact, we jumped 21 spots this year on Indeed.com's list of the top U.S workplaces for veterans. This is a testament to our increased recruiting efforts, as well as our efforts to create a culture where veterans feel valued and supported.

We use the special reach and resources of our global operations to partner with outstanding organizations. This is our way of stepping up and going the extra mile for all those who've stepped forward to answer our nation's call.

We do this year-round, and the month of November is no exception; however, it is exceptional, especially as we mark Veterans Day.

As we pay tribute to all Americans who have served in uniform and carried our flag into battle throughout our history, let's also keep our thoughts with the women and men who are serving around the world, now. They belong to a generation of post-9/11 veterans who've taken part in the longest sustained period of conflict in our history.

Never has so much been asked by so many of so few.... for so long. These heroes represent every color and creed. They are drawn from across the country and many immigrated to our shores.

They then freely choose to serve in the most distant and dangerous regions of the world, to protect democracy in its moments of maximum danger.

Wherever they serve - however they serve - whether they put on a uniform each day, or serve in ways which may never be fully known, these Americans wake up each morning willing to offer the "last full measure of devotion" on our behalf.

Every time they do so, they provide a stunning rebuke to the kinds of voices around the world who doubt freedom and democracy's ability to defend itself.

Unfortunately, we know there are those who seem to not understand – or say they do not - what it is that inspires a free people to step forward, willing to lay down their lives so that their country and fellow citizens might live.

But, we – who are both the wards and stewards of the democracy which has been preserved and handed down to us by veterans throughout our history – do understand.

We know that inciting fear and hatred of others is a source of weakness, not strength. And such divisive rhetoric can never inspire solidarity or sacrifice like love for others and love of country can.

It is this quality of devotion that we most honor in our veterans - those who have served, do serve and will serve.

On behalf of a grateful family of 96,000, thank you for your service.

Humbly,

Oscar

United named a top workplace for veterans

By The Hub team , November 10, 2019

Each year around Veterans Day, Indeed, one of the world's largest job search engines, rates companies based on actual employee reviews to identify which ones offer the best opportunities and benefits for current and former U.S. military members. Our dramatic improvement in the rankings this year reflects a stronger commitment than ever before to actively recruiting, developing and nurturing veteran talent.

"We've spent a lot of time over the past 12 months looking for ways to better connect with our employees who served and attract new employees from the military ranks," said Global Catering Operations and Logistics Managing Director Ryan Melby, a U.S. Army veteran and the president of our United for Veterans business resource group.

"Our group is launching a mentorship program, for instance, where we'll assign existing employee-veterans to work with new hires who come to us from the armed forces. Having a friend and an ally like that, someone who can help you translate the skills you picked up in the military to what we do as a civilian company, is invaluable. That initiative is still in its infancy, but I'm really optimistic about what it can do for United and for our veteran population here."

Impressively, we were the only one of our industry peers to move up on the list, further evidence that we're on a good track as a company.

Mission Accomplished

By Matt Adams , November 06, 2019

The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.

Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.

Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.

Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.

"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."

When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.

For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.

Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.

That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.

"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."

The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.

About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.

"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."

When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.

"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."

On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.

"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."

For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.

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