Safety is Global III: Dream destinations around the globe
Rio de Janeiro's Carnival and Munich's Oktoberfest are obvious picks, while others are more obscure, like India's Holi Festival and a hot-air balloon festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. But all seven of these events are memorable, iconic and dream-worthy events that shouldn't be missed.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Major Carnival celebrations span the globe, from Venice to Sydney and even New Orleans, but Rio de Janeiro's Carnival is king. Just as you don't have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, you don't have to be Catholic to enjoy Carnival, which began as, and remains a bacchanalian blowout leading up to Lent. You just need to know it's a colorful, citywide swirl of dancing, parades, costumes, masks and bracing beverages—and you need to be in Rio on February 9-14.
Northern Lights in Alaska
The far-northern latitude of Fairbanks, Alaska, makes it the best easy-to-reach destination in the U.S. for viewing the Northern Lights, the multicolored swirls of light that periodically take over the polar night sky, also known as the Aurora Borealis. Their appearance is unpredictable, but they're most frequent and most visible during the long, dark nights between mid-autumn and mid-spring in Fairbanks. While waiting for this cosmic light show, you can check out Fairbanks' Aurora Ice Museum and Running Reindeer Ranch, both open year-round.
Holi Festival in Delhi
The Holi Festival in Delhi (March 1-2) may be the biggest and most exuberant among many throughout India—and exuberance is what the Hinduism-based festival is all about. It's also called the Festival of Colors because spraying or getting sprayed or smeared with colored water or powder happens all over the city. Don't pack your best clothes! The Holi MOO! Festival adds a music component, with dozens of Indian and international musicians performing.
Lantern Festival in Chengdu
The March 2 Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) celebrations throughout China—and has shined as the highlight of the year in the western Chinese city of Chengdu since 711 A.D. The festival is named for the decorative paper lanterns carried by children and displayed citywide, especially in Culture Park, site of the Lantern Fair. Festivities throughout the week before and afterward include fireworks and folk dancing.
NYC Half Marathon in Manhattan
Never mind that dream of running the New York City Marathon. Besides needing to run 26.2 miles, you need to beat the odds, as only one in six who enter the race-number drawing succeed. Targeting the United Airlines NYC Half instead makes more sense. It's half as far and you have twice the odds (one in three) of getting in. Also, this "half" lets you gallop through the heart of Times Square—which the marathon doesn't—after passing other Manhattan landmarks and touring Central Park.
Hot Air Balloon Festival in Northern Colorado
Steamboat Springs is the closest Colorado ski town to the Wyoming border, so it's logical that its longtime hot air balloon festival (July 14-15) is called a "balloon rodeo." Besides an actual professional rodeo on Saturday night, visitors watch balloon pilots compete in balloon-rodeo contests that include a beanbag toss from the sky and precision landings. A large art fair and live music are also featured—and the trails surrounding this outdoors town are superb for hiking, biking or skiing.
Oktoberfest in Munich
Fall celebrations are found all over the world that call themselves Oktoberfest, but there is only one true Oktoberfest—the annual, beer-soaked, citywide party in Munich. Plan on parades, carnival rides, open-air concerts, Bavarian folk dancing, German food, and enough good beer to serve the six million people who annually take over the city for the three-weekend-long festival (Sept. 16-Oct. 3, 2017 and Sept. 22-Oct. 7, 2018).
In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.
Whether it's visiting friends and relatives, traveling for work or simply exploring a new corner of the world, we all have a reason as to why we fly. No matter the reason you fly, the miles you earn and donate help our Miles on a Mission partners soar. Take a look at how some of our partner organizations have put our MileagePlus Members' donations to work.
"To deliver life-saving cells and hope to Be the Match patients, like me!"
"These donated miles will support Born This Way Foundation's mission of supporting the wellness of LGBTQ+ youth — and all young people — by expanding access to mental health resources and promoting kindness."
"Combined Arms is uniting communities to accelerate the impact of veterans and their families."
"To help children get to life-saving cancer treatment"
"We fly to save. We fly to save lives, saving homeless veterans anywhere, any time."
"Gift of Adoption flies to unite children with their families — giving them a chance to thrive!"
"Holocaust Museum Houston flies United to educate people about the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Holocaust Museum Houston flies United to connect teachers with Holocaust and human rights educational resources."
"We fly today so those living with ALS can have a better tomorrow."
"At Lazarex we fly patients with cancer to clinical trials for hope and a chance at life!"
"Donate your miles to help refugees reach safe homes for the holidays."
"To get vital relief and recovery aid where it's needed most!"
"We fly to educate and empower girls in Peru."
"To collaborate with partners & promote that #FoodIsMedicine"
"United helps our medical teams deliver hope and support when people need it most!"
"We fly to bring hope to 2 million people around the globe facing food insecurity."
"To make waves to fight cancer."
"Because every LGBTQ young person deserves to be valued, respected and loved for who they are."
"My team needs me now more than ever. I will be there for them!"
"Watts of Love brings solar light and hope to those living in the darkness of poverty!"
"To bring access to clean water for everyone that needs it."
Critical medical shipments – Check.
High-tech electronics – Check.
2.7 million pounds of lobster? Check.
While this year's holiday gatherings will look a little different, millions of people around the world will still carry on the tradition of celebrating the holidays with a meal.
As the appetite for different types of food from all over the world increases, so does the need for safe and reliable transport. Fish caught in the United Kingdom can depart at breakfast and arrive in Washington D.C. in time for dinner. Thanks to United Cargo's expansive network, we are longer constrained by global distance or the seasonality of a product,
United Cargo plays a big role in transporting shipments with a limited shelf life around the world. Packed in between the latest electronics from Asia and the hottest fashion items from Europe, our aircraft carry a variety of perishable shipments like flowers, fruit, meat and vegetables, where speed and careful handling keeps them fresh. Whether it's cherries from Washington State or vegetables from Peru, our temperature-controlled shipping processes and vast global network helps move these commodities all over the world.
While the holidays are an exceptionally busy time of year for shipping perishable items, United Cargo transports these critical goods for people all over the world year-round. Earlier this year, United Cargo moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program to support communities impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, with the holiday season here, we anticipate the cargo holds of our aircraft to be full of grocery store replenishments, including staples like turkey and ham, hitting shelves across the globe.
We take pride in our role to make sure perishables and produce arrive on time and at the peak of freshness. These products sustain, feed and nurture the world, and consumers around the globe depend on them every single day.
Since March 19, United has operated nearly 8,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 272 million pounds of cargo on those flights alone. United Cargo is proud of the role we play maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access commodities from all over the globe.
Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your holiday travels, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive travel-ready:
1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, payments 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 and touch-free onboard payments.
2. 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 coverings, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
3. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading* cleanliness, plus putting health and safety at the forefront of your experience, in partnership with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic. We've implemented CleanPlus in a number of ways that you'll notice throughout your trip, as well as with some behind-the-scenes enhancements 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
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.
4. Don't forget essential documents
We've made a list of travel requirements and restrictions for every destination that you can check twice, or as often as you need before your trip. Just visit united.com/travelrequirements to get the details on COVID-19 testing, health documents and other things you may need before you fly.
5. Wear your mask
You may not notice our smile behind our face covering, but you can be sure that we're appreciative of all our travelers who arrive to the airport with their mask on, and continue to wear it over their nose and mouth at all times in the airport and on board. Make sure you review our requirements for face coverings, including what an acceptable face covering looks like. Bonus points if your mask infuses some holiday cheer!
6. A better boarding process for your safety
If you haven't flown with us in a while, you might want to get familiar with our new 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.
7. 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.
8. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates, weather conditions, flight status, gate 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.
9. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during the holidays. 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.
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.
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
Watch our most popular videos
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.