Athens: History, Festivals and Greek Islands - United Hub
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Athens: History, festivals and Greek islands

By Bob Cooper, January 25, 2018

Athens may be known as the “cradle of Western civilization," but admiring its ancient buildings is only one reason to visit.

Monuments in Athens, Greece

Magical monuments and museums

Europe's oldest major city knows how to show off its 3,400 years of history. The city of three million people is filled with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments, most famously the Acropolis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site built nearly 2,500 years ago, the hilltop citadel is a collection of several ruins, including the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. In contrast, the adjacent New Acropolis Museum — 10 times the size of the landmark's original museum — opened just seven years ago, and displays an even more extensive collection of millennia-old sculptures and objects recovered from the site. Elsewhere in Athens, museums showcase archaeology, ancient Greek art, Byzantine art, Cycladic art (ancient art of the Aegean islands), ancient epigraphs and coins.

Hiking Trail in Athens, Greece

Sports and entertainment

Greece may be the birthplace of the ancient and modern Olympics, but Athenians don't rest on their laurels (an expression that originated in ancient Greece, by the way). They love to root for their local professional basketball and soccer teams. They love to hike in the mountains and national park surrounding the city. They love taking in an IMAX or OMNIMAX film at the huge Athens Planetarium, which screens several daily. And they love exploring the live theater options at more than 100 theaters citywide. Visitors can also enjoy these diversions.

Greek Island Resort near Athens

Greek islands

The Greek islands' resorts, beaches and ancient temples are so popular that they have more hotels than mainland Greece. Athens is the gateway to the islands, which are only a quick ferry trip away from the city. Among the best and most popular islands are Santorini (with an active volcano and streets carved into cliffs), Hydra (a car-free island where locals get around on donkeys) and Sifnos (mountains and beautiful beaches) — but altogether there are 200 inhabited Greek islands, so it's easy to pick one where you can escape the crowds.

Balcony Restaurant in Athens, Greece

Festivals and food

The August full moon is celebrated throughout Greece. More than 100 monuments, including many in Athens, are open for free visits during the moon's appearance on August 17–21, with music, dance, theater, art and films. Film takes center stage when 50,000 indie cinephiles flock to the Athens International Film Festival, with screenings from filmmakers around the world at five theaters. But every day is a festival at Athens' tavernas (casual restaurants), where Greek food and wine are consumed and celebrated.

Tourist Areas in Athens, Greece

Practicalities

Athens can be hot and a bit crowded in August, so September through November is a perfect time to visit, when it's still warm and the prices are lower — though Athens is a bargain year-round. It's far less expensive than most of Europe's other great cities, like London, Paris and Rome. Buses, subways and taxis are the best way to get around in Athens, and many ferries also go to the islands.

If you go

United Airlines has launched new nonstop service to Athens International Airport from Newark Liberty International Airport, extending through October 5. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your trip.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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