Discover your own Mexico City
Each week we profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.
By Portland, Maine Customer Service Representative Fiona Lawless
As one of the most populous cities in the world, Mexico City can be a daunting place to spend a little time. Personally, the most daunting thing for me is trying to narrow down the eclectic range of attractions Mexico City has to offer. Although well known for its obvious landmarks and tourist draws, I have decided to highlight the daily facets enjoyed by the locals and on offer to all.
I am lucky to have spent six weeks in Mexico City, spread over three separate trips with my boyfriend, Jerry. Having time on our side has enabled us to enjoy the tourist traps and these more hidden gems. Even if time is of the essence, I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and seek out even one adventure, something as simple as rising early and getting a pre-dawn cup of coffee.
The best time of day to experience the streets is just as the majority of its residents are waking up. One of our favorite things to do is to grab a coffee and ramble aimlessly around the streets of the Zocalo at this magical time. This is also the perfect time to take photographs; not only can you capture the sunrise over the grand, colonial architecture, you can also take those snaps with ease, as you'll have the footpaths pretty much all to yourself.
While you're out there on your early morning foray, keep an eye out for any of the multitude of amazing local bakeries you are bound to pass. Two such recommendations are Pasteleria Ideal and La Vasconia. The challenge is self-control within these fortresses of indulgence and abandoned willpower.
Perhaps an early morning stroll is in order to bring you down off your sugar rush: Head out to Viveros de Coyoacan. Take the Metro to Viveros, where you can ramble through this shady oasis, which serves as the primary nursery for Mexico City's parks and gardens and is a favorite for local joggers, dog walkers, school kids and general walkers.
Do not be afraid of the Metro; it is your friend. For about 30 cents, you could ride the rails all day if you wanted, as long as you stay within the border of the Metro turnstiles. Beyond that, it is one of the cheapest public transport systems in the world, and planners even had the foresight to connect it to the airport, something many cities have not done. As you ride the Metro, take note of the murals, art installations, archaeological displays and all manner of transient entertainment to be had, both in the stations and on the train as you are whisked from stop to stop.
No matter where you are, make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times. You will find street art/urban art everywhere in the city. It is up to you to look up and around to be rewarded with vertical gardens, impromptu open-air galleries and urban creations.
Saturday mornings in the city, visit the weekly pop-up markets that cater to all tastes. Located near the unique library, Bibliotecha Vasconcelos, with its surreal shelves that seem to float in mid-air, you will find Tianguis Cultural del Chopo. Here, punks, goths and all manner of those with social angst check out the latest shade of black. If tattoos, mohawks, music and piercings aren't your thing, head to the tree-lined Roma neighborhood. Here on Saturday and Sunday mornings you can peruse antiques, retro bric-a-brac and shabby chic.
Feeling a tad peckish and perhaps in some need of re-hydration? In our humble opinion, Mexico City presented us with the best examples of botanas yet. Botanas are a free snack served to a patron of a bar. They can be as simple as a dish of peanuts or as hearty as soup, rice, chicken, fish or steak. Typically gaining access to the "stick to the ribs" fare involves buying a couple of beers, whereby your botanas are now your reward for imbibing.
If you need to quench your thirst and you would like a different but very traditional Mexican drink, try pulque. This predecessor of mezcal, tequila and cerveza is the original drink of the gods. If you are new to pulque opt for a curado (cured), to take the tang out of the original state. Curados come in many different flavors — strawberry, lime, coffee, coconut, celery, etc.
Round out your day watching oily men in spandex and masks wrestle each other in a ring. Taking in a Lucha Libre match while you are in Mexico City is an experience not to be missed. The acrobatics, dramatics, flair and audience participation make for a memorable night out.
If you are in town on a Sunday, become an honorary resident, and join the throngs of locals who stroll and cycle on the grand boulevard Paseo de la Reforma, which is closed to traffic for a few hours on Sundays only. Alternatively, take a boat ride or enjoy the welcome shade of Chapultepec Park with a picnic.
Finally, forget the tacos and enchiladas; make sure you try some birria. This mildly spicy stew hails from Jalisco and is traditionally made with goat or mutton but is also made with beef. The best birria is found at Taqueria El Paso, a street food cart by San Antonio Metro station. You can also satisfy your carnivore cravings with a large plate of succulent Yucatecan cochinita pibil at Coox Hanal, a sit-down restaurant with mouth-watering Yucatecan staples.
To say that we are in love with Mexico City is an understatement, and don't even get me started on how smitten we are with the rest of Mexico.
If you would like more information about Mexico City, Mexico or Central America, check out our travel blog, A Couple of Drifters.
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On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:
1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more
Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.
Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.
"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.
We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
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
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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.