Where the Reef Meets the Rainforest - United Hub
Employee Travel Blog

Where the reef meets the rainforest

By The Hub team, April 04, 2017

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By SFO Customer Service Representative Leonida Esquieres

Far north in Queensland, Australia, is a place of immense natural beauty. It is a rich, cosmopolitan mix of cultures and people, as well as the site of three World Heritage Sites -- the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics and the Riversleigh fossil site. It is where time slows down, and we can relax and appreciate a geographically beautiful region.

We flew to Sydney Airport on United's daily nonstop from San Francisco International Airport and from there took another flight to Cairns, the primary gateway to the three World Heritage Sites we were about to explore. The city of Cairns is similar to Honolulu in regards to climate and ambiance. From there, we rented a van and a driver to take us to our next destination, Port Douglas— where the reef meets the rainforest, a tropical wonderland of diversity. This town provides access to the Great Barrier Reef and also the Daintree Rainforest.

Leonida and her family hiking in the Daintree Rainforest

We had the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience by taking a pontoon reef tour. Throughout the tour, we explored the outer reef, where we enjoyed an array of reef viewing activities, such as glass bottom boat rides, semi submarine coral viewing tours and an underwater observatory. The Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia is the largest coral reef system on Earth and can be seen from outer space. It is comprised of more than 2,900 separate reefs, spanning more than 1,600 miles. It is home to the greatest variety of flora and fauna species found in any one location in the world. It provides the most awe-inspiring experience. This natural wonder offers snorkeling, diving, swimming or simply coral viewing. We had the opportunity to scuba dive and snorkel with Wally, the friendly "fish dog," and a humphead wrasse who was extremely sociable and eager to take us around his kingdom in the reef. It was an incredible experience playing with these two fish dogs under water.

Leonida Esquieres scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef

A day later, we visited the Cape Tribulation Safari in Kuranda, a village in the rainforest. The rainforests of the Wet Tropics are a museum of flora and fauna that were listed as World Heritage Sites in 1988. They cover an area of nearly 900,000 hectares of rainforest and tropical vegetation, stretching for more than 400 kilometers. Here, pockets of primitive plant species have remained undisturbed for millions of years, and rare, even previously unidentified, species of birds, insects and mammals have emerged.

We started our journey from Freshwater railway station to take a scenic train ride to the Kuranda Rainforest on a cable car ride (Kuranda Skyrail), exploring the remarkable rooftop of the rainforest. Along the way, you can hop off of the cable car to visit some sights, including Barron Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station, Barron Falls and the Wet Tropics area. In Kuranda, we wandered around the markets and later went to see the spectacular, tropical butterflies in their most natural habitat.

Following our trip to Kuranda, we visited Mossman Gorge Wet Tropics and took a cruise along the Daintree River, where we saw alligators.

A five-day, well-spent adventure in Queensland is definitely worth the long journey.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

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.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

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.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

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.

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