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.

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team, April 07, 2020

When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.

We have operated more than 85 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 12,000 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.

Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.

Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Roatan, Honduras
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Melbourne, Australia

We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.

We’re making some key changes to the MileagePlus program for you

By The Hub team, April 05, 2020

Throughout these unprecedented times, we remain committed to doing what is right and fair for all of our MileagePlus® members and are pleased to share the steps we are taking to reciprocate the trust and loyalty that you have placed in United. These steps include not only Premier status updates, but also an extension of current memberships and subscriptions. The updates will happen automatically over the next few weeks — there's nothing you need to do.

The big news: If you have current 2020 Premier status, it will be extended to January 31, 2022. At a minimum, you will enjoy the same published status next year that you have today, up to and including Premier 1K®.

For the 2021 status year, United is reducing thresholds for Premier qualification by 50% for each status level, to make reaching an even higher tier easier. You'll still need a minimum of four flight segments on United or United Express®.

2021 status

Earn Premier qualifying flights

and PQP

… or meet a higher PQP goal

Silver

6

2,000

2,500

Gold

12

4,000

5,000

Platinum

18

6,000

7,500

1K

26

9,000

12,000

We're also doubling PQP for United Explorer cards and quadrupling PQP for the United Club cards.

At the same time that we're decreasing the published program's PQP requirements, via a promotion from May 1 – December 31, 2020, we're doubling (for United Explorer cards) or quadrupling (for United Club cards) the maximum number of PQP that Cardmembers can earn from card spending during 2020 to help achieve a higher level of status than you already have. More details to come later.

1K® and Platinum members, we're increasing your ability to upgrade by extending PlusPoints expiration dates by six months and expanding Skip Waitlist.

  • This means a six-month extension of any PlusPoints set to expire on or before January 31, 2021.
  • Last year we introduced Skip Waitlist on select flights as a benefit to 1K members, giving you more opportunities to confirm an upgrade request at the time of booking. This benefit will now be available for the rest of 2020 in a significantly expanded selection of long-haul international regions and will have expanded availability in 2021 as well.

We're extending all annual membership and subscription benefits by six months.

  • We want to make sure your benefits are still there when you're ready to start flying again. That's why we're extending purchased United Club℠ memberships purchased directly from United and purchased subscriptions for Economy Plus®, United Wi-Fi℠ and checked bags by six months. You should see this reflected in your MileagePlus account soon.

All electronic travel certificates now have 24 months to be used.

  • If your travel plans have been disrupted, and you have an electronic travel certificate from us for the value of your ticket, you now have two years from the date it was issued to book a new flight, as well as up to an additional 11 months to travel. This includes all currently valid and all new electronic travel certificates issued on or after April 1, 2020.

We have removed some redeposit fees for the rest of the year.

  • We are currently waiving all award redeposit fees for travel through end of May 2020.
  • We are now also waiving all redeposit fees for award ticket cancellations made more than 30 days before departure for the remainder of 2020.

Finally, we'll be making it easier to earn status in 2021 for the 2022 program year. We recognize that getting back to travel will occur at a different pace for different members. Keep an eye out for changes we will make to help you earn status in 2021 for 2022, as we'll share details later this year.

Over the years, you have placed your trust and loyalty in United, and we are honored to do the same for you. We are all in this together.

Status extension to January 31, 2022, applies to all members that met the published criteria of the MileagePlus program in 2019, status match associated with the United/Marriott Bonvoy partnership and status offered as part of a Sales nomination. Status granted from other programs and policies may not apply.

How to change your flight, or cancel and rebook later

By The Hub team, April 04, 2020

To help with the uncertainty around future travel — be it summer vacations, conferences, events and more — customers now have until April 30 to make changes to, or cancel, any travel they have booked through the end of the year without fees. This is in addition to existing waivers already in place which allow customers to change or cancel plans for travel through May 31.If you decide to cancel your flight, you can retain the value of your ticket to be applied to a new ticket without a fee. These electronic travel certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020. You might not see this policy change reflected everywhere right away – we appreciate your patience as we work to make that happen.

Eligible travelers on domestic flights and international tickets can request a refund on united.com or may call our contact centers if their flights have been severely adjusted or service to their destination suspended either due to government mandates or United schedule reductions related to COVID-19.

Certain tickets cannot be changed on united.com or the mobile app, including tickets booked through another airline (if the ticket receipt does not begin with 016). Please contact the original ticketing airline for changes.

Follow the steps below to stay up to date, change or cancel your flight.

Change your current flight:

  1. On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
  2. Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
    • Date of travel or destination
    • Add a flight
    • Remove a flight
  3. Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
  4. Continue through booking to confirm your new flight

Note: The change fee will display as waived, but any difference in fare may apply.

Cancel your flight and rebook later:

  1. On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
  2. Select "Cancel flight"
  3. Confirm flight cancellation
  4. If you have future flight credit, when you return to the reservation, select "Use Future Flight Credit" to shop for new flights and apply the credit towards a new flight.

Canceling or changing an award flight:

When you select "Cancel flight," you will have the option to cancel your award reservation and redeposit the miles or to cancel your award reservation and use those miles for another trip in the future.

*We're currently experiencing heavy traffic to united.com. If you experience an error while trying to change or cancel your flight, please try again later.

Click through the slideshow below for more detailed instructions:

​Start on the United homepage: ​

User can select 'My Trips' on the homepage widget to find and retrieve their reservation.

  • If you're not signed in or you're a guest user, enter your confirmation number and last name.
  • If you are signed in, you can select a trip from your current trips or select the 'Find another trip' link.
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