After Landing: San Francisco - United Hub
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After Landing: San Francisco

By The Hub team

After Landing is a travel guide series dedicated to bringing you insider tips and local recommendations on what to see and do in some of our favorite cities. Check back often for new destinations.

If you've visited San Francisco already, you'll know of its charms. If you haven't, then you absolutely should. To help you plan your trip, we've tapped into a few of our employees, aka the travel experts, to share insider tips and local recommendations on some of our favorite cities. First up, the City by the Bay.

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Aerial view of the Golden Gate Bridge

Get to know the City by the Bay

Founded by seafaring Spaniards in the 18th century, the City by the Bay has lured settlers and visitors to its hills for centuries since. With a heady combination of the Californian climate, world-class cuisine and a carefree, cutting edge culture, it's very easy to see why.

Your arrival

Heavy traffic and high taxi prices mean the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to cover the 13 miles from San Francisco International Airport to downtown is to take the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a direct subway/monorail that leaves every 15 minutes and is about a 30-minute trip.

The famous Lombard Street, San Francisco

Where to stay

While great quality and good value hotels are dotted all across the city, the greatest concentration can be found in three main locations: around the tourist mecca of Fisherman's Wharf, on all sides of the city's main shopping district of Union Square, and along the stretch of Lombard Street just north of Cow Hollow, heading west towards Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge. All three have their merits, being close to many of the city's most popular attractions.

However, two other good neighborhoods worth considering are in and around SoMa (South of Market) and Mission. Both combine excellent hotels with many of the city's best restaurants and bars, all within easy strolling distance.

What to see & do

The following recommendations merely scratch the surface of what San Francisco has to offer, but they should definitely be on the itinerary of any first-time visitor.

The best way to cover ground in this hilly city, cable cars have been a feature since 1873 and were awarded national historic landmark status in 1964. They run on three lines, through many of the city's most popular neighborhoods: North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, Nob Hill, Chinatown and Embarcadero. Before you get on, however, remember to buy a ticket.

"The most famous landmarks and attractions are all worth adding to your must-see list," says Christine U., Customer Service Lead. "The sea lions at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, the wonderfully winding Lombard Street, Chinatown… They're popular for a good reason."

San Francisco based flight attendant, Louise C., shares her tips on where to go and what to see in San Fran

North Beach is another must-visit. Misleadingly, there's no beach there, but the Italian quarter is packed full of cafés, restaurants and hip stores. It's also close to Coit Tower, high on Telegraph Hill, which offers amazing Instagram-worthy views of the city, the bridges and the Bay.

"Golden Gate Park is a must-see," says San Francisco based flight attendant Louise C. "It stretches across more than 1,000 acres of land and is 20% larger than Central Park in NYC. It's best seen on foot and there are so many points of interest, most of them free of charge, including Stow Lake, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the California Academy of Science." Access the park through Haight-Ashbury, the birthplace of America's counter-culture.

The aforementioned California Academy of Sciences is well worth visiting, especially for families. It houses an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and four-story rainforest, all under one roof. If you need more, look no further than the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum, the Asian Art Museum and the Legion of Honor.

If you're after couture more than culture, make your way to Union Square, a mecca for serious shoppers. Major department stores and designer boutiques await, including the largest Bloomingdale's outside of New York City.

SF based flight attendant, Sean R., pictured in front of the Walt Disney Family Museum | Photo credit: Sean R.

"A personal favorite that I accidentally discovered is the Walt Disney Family Museum in Presidio," says San Francisco based flight attendant, Sean R. "It houses many of the Disney family's heirlooms, many of them interactive and created by Disney Imagineers. It's an amazing and unmissable place."

Cycling to Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge is another must-do experience. The Bridge stretches 1.7 miles across the Golden Gate and gives you amazing views across the bay, from Alcatraz to the city. You'll get to explore Sausalito for a while before either cycling back or jumping on a boat back to the San Francisco Ferry Building. Another must just across the Golden Gate Bridge is the Muir Woods National Monument. "The magnitude of the Redwoods is breathtaking. A lovely day trip to escape the city, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the peace that comes with a few hours of no cell phone service," says Newark based flight attendant, Luke B.

Newark based flight attendant, Luke B., shares his tips and recommendations on what to see and do in San Francisco

Finally, no visit to San Francisco can be complete without visiting the Rock: Alcatraz. Once home to some of America's most notorious criminals, the prison closed in the 1960s but is now open for cellhouse tours. Take an Alcatraz Cruises boat from Pier 33, but be sure to book ahead.

Where to eat & drink

In a city renowned for its gastronomic inventiveness, you'll eat well wherever you roam. That said, there are certain culinary experiences that should be on the list of every first-time visitor to San Francisco.

Eating burritos in the Mission at Taqueria El Farolito or La Taqueria is a must; though don't eat both in the same visit, as they're on the larger side. Head to Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, where local chefs shop for some of the city's freshest, finest produce. For seafood fans, head to the Fisherman's Wharf for the chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl at the legendary Boudin Bakery. Refuel with an espresso at Caffe Trieste, where Francis Ford Coppola wrote The Godfather, or with a cold glass of America's first craft beer, the local Anchor Steam. To stay ahead of the culinary curve, order a few slices of millionaire's bacon, just so you can say you have had it.

But, if you want three specific insider options, follow this advice:

Pictured: Ristorante Franchino | Photo credit: Gary B.

"Ristorante Franchino on Columbus Avenue is a great family-run Italian restaurant you have to visit," says Cleveland-based Boeing 737 captain Gary B. "The food and ambience are exceptional. I've made it my go-to every time I've been in the city for the last 15-plus years, which tells you how good it is. Particularly the tiramisu!"

"One of my absolute favorites is The House in North Beach," says San Francisco-based flight attendant Rebecca M. "The food is Asian American with simple, yummy ingredients. The sea bass is amazing, and also the deep fried salmon roll."

"Fish in Sausalito is worth the journey," says San Francisco-based flight attendant Mallory C. "The drive (or cycle) over the Golden Gate Bridge is stunning, with the gorgeous San Francisco skyline behind you. Then you get to chow down on some of the freshest fish in the Bay Area, eaten on picnic tables and overlooking the marina in Sausalito. Don't leave without ordering the fish tacos. But be warned, Fish is cash only."

San Francisco based flight attendant, Rebecca M., shares tips and recommendations on what to see and do in San Fran

San Francisco focus: Time to wine and dine

Two of America's – indeed the world's – greatest wine regions lie just north of San Francisco, in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Ideally, you'll be adding a couple of days on at the end of your visit to explore the vineyards at leisure. But if that's not possible, you don't ever need to leave the city to experience the best grapes Northern California has to offer. A growing number of neighborhood wine bars and tasting rooms bring the experience to you, offering the very best local vintages with small plates of seasonal bites. Fig & Thistle, Bluxome Street Winery and Tank18 are just three places getting it spectacularly right.

Neighborhoods in San Francisco

Best time to visit

While summer guarantees sun, it also brings the crowds and higher prices. The shoulder seasons of March to May and late August to November are still warm and slightly quieter, making excellent alternatives.

Getting there

United Airlines offers flights to San Francisco from many cities throughout the U.S. For more information and to book your trip, go to United.com or download our convenient United app. While you're there, share your adventures on social media with the hashtag #UnitedJourney.


Discover more in the After Landing series:

After Landing: Austin

After Landing: Denver

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Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team , April 03, 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 68 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 9,200 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.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom, a video conferencing tool that many people are using to stay connected.

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. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.







Domestic and international schedule reductions

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

While travel demand and government restrictions continue to impact our schedule, we know some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home. While our international schedule will be reduced by about 90% in April, we will continue flying six daily operations to and from the following destinations — covering Asia, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe — in an effort to get customers where they need to be. This remains a fluid situation, but United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times. Learn more about what we're doing to keep customers and employees safe.

Flights continuing from now through May schedule:

  • New York/Newark – Frankfurt (Flights 960/961)
  • New York/Newark – London (Flights 16/17)
  • New York/Newark – Tel Aviv (Flights 90/91)
  • Houston – Sao Paulo (Flights 62/63)
  • San Francisco – Tokyo-Narita (Flights 837/838)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (Flights 863/870)

In addition to the above, we will continue to operate the following flights to help displaced customers who still need to get home. In destinations where government actions have barred us from flying, we are actively looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.

Atlantic

The following flights will continue through March 28 westbound:

  • New York/Newark – Amsterdam (Flights 70/71)
  • New York/Newark – Munich (Flights 30/31)
  • New York/Newark – Brussels (Flights 999/998)
  • New York/Newark – Cape Town (Flights 1122/1123)
  • Washington-Dulles – London (Flights 918/919)
  • San Francisco – Frankfurt (Flights 58/59)

The final westbound departures on all other Atlantic routes will take place on March 25.

Pacific

  • We will continue to fly San Francisco-Seoul (Flights 893/892) through March 29 and San Francisco-Tahiti (Flights 115/114) through March 28.
  • Our final eastbound departures on all other Pacific routes will take place on March 25.
  • We will maintain some Guam flights as well as a portion of our Island Hopper service.
  • Hawaii's governor issued a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine order for all travelers arriving or returning to Hawaii. Travelers must complete a Hawaii Department of Agriculture form that will be distributed on board their flight which will also include the requirements for the 14-day quarantine, as well as the penalties. You must show a government issued ID upon arrival along with your form. You can find more information on the governor's website.

Latin America/South America

  • We will continue to fly Newark/New York – Sao Paulo (Flights 149/148) through March 27 outbound.
  • The last southbound departures on most other routes will take place March 24.

Mexico

  • We will reduce our Mexico operation over the next five days. After March 24, we will maintain a small number of daytime flights to certain destinations in Mexico — more to come in the next few days.

Canada

  • We will suspend all flying to Canada effective April 1.

In destinations where government actions have barred us from flying, we are actively looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.

The revised international schedule will be viewable on united.com on Sunday, March 22. We will continue to update our customers with information as it's available.

If you're scheduled to travel through May 31, 2020, and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. Please visit united.com for more information, or reference our step-by-step guide on how to change your flight, cancel and rebook later.

Domestic schedule

Effective April 8, we are further reducing our domestic service between some of our airport hub locations and 31 airports across the United States. We will continue offering service to all of these airports through other United hubs. Additionally, effective April 8, we will suspend service between the mainland and Hilo, Maui, Kona and Lihue - and we will maintain our daily service between our San Francisco hub and Honolulu, which has been reduced to one flight daily. We will continue to operate daily service between Honolulu and Guam.

We are closely monitoring demand as well as changes in state and local curfews and government restrictions across the U.S. and will adjust our schedule accordingly throughout the month.

These the changes result in a 67% overall domestic reduction from a previous 52%, and our overall capacity will now be down 78% overall.

Hub city Route suspensions Remaining service
Denver Arcata/Eureka, CA
Appleton, WI
Hartford, CT
Charleston, SC
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Hobbs, NM
Jacksonville, FL
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Kahului, HI
Shreveport, LA
Santa Rosa, CA
Syracuse, NY
SFO
ORD
IAD, ORD
EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
SFO
IAH
EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
IAH
SFO
IAD, ORD
New York/Newark Austin, TX
Burlington, VT
Buffalo, NY
Akron/Canton, OH
Grand Rapids, MI
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Las Vegas, NV
Kansas City, MO
Milwaukee, WI
Madison, WI
Minneapolis, MN
New Orleans, LA
Omaha, NE
Norfolk, VA
Portland, OR
Phoenix, AZ
Providence, RI
San Diego, CA
San Antonio, TX
Seattle, WA
Salt Lake City, UT
Sacramento, CA
Orange County, CA
Syracuse, NY
Knoxville, TN
Fayetteville, AR
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
ORD
ORD
IAD
SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
Washington-Dulles Austin, TX
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Portland, OR
Sacramento, CA
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
ORD
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
Houston Hartford, CT
Boise, ID
Akron/Canton, OH
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Lexington, KY
Ontario, CA
Norfolk, VA
Palm Springs, CA
Richmond, VA
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
IAD, ORD
DEN, LAX, ORD, SFO
ORD
ORD
SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, EWR, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN
Los Angeles Arcata/Eureka, CA
Austin, TX
Boston, MA
Baltimore, DC
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Eugene, OR
Honolulu, HI
Hilo, HI
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Orlando, FL
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Madison, WI
Kahului, HI
Palm Springs, CA
Redding, CA
Bend/Redmond, CA
Reno, NV
San Antonio, TX
Stockton, CA
Seattle, WA
St George, UT
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
SFO
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN
Chicago Albuquerque, NM
Asheville, NC
Bismarck/Mandan, ND
Bozeman, MT
Kearney, NE
Panama City, FL
Eugene, OR
Fresno, CA
Spokane, WA
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Wilmington, NC
Jackson, MS
Kahului, HI
Palm Springs, CA
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
Valparaiso, FL
DEN, IAH
IAD
DEN
DEN
DEN
IAH
DEN, SFO
DEN, LAX, SFO
DEN
IAD
SFO
IAD
IAH
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN
IAH
San Francisco Albuquerque, NM
Atlanta, GA
Nashville, TN
Baltimore, DC
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Detroit, MI
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Spokane, WA
Indianapolis, IN
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Kansas City, MO
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Madison, WI
Minneapolis, MN
New Orleans, LA
Kahului, HI
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Raleigh/Durham, NC
San Antonio, TX
St Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
Fayetteville, AR
DEN, IAH
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
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