A Place that Wows at Every Turn - United Hub

Iceland: A place that wows at every turn

By The Hub team

"It felt like a different planet. Everywhere you go is beautiful."

Iceland: A land of diverse and breathtaking Nordic landscapes – from glistening glaciers, incredible waterfalls, exploding geysers and more, you can find it all across this vast land of marvelousness.

For freelance photographer Tim Landis, a trip to Iceland was a dream come true – an island of immense beauty asking to be captured through a lens.

But Tim's dream was fulfilled both professionally and personally. Thanks to United's MileagePlus® program, Tim's wife Staci and their three children -- Makenzie (16), Madden (13) and Amara (11) – came along for the incredible experience.

"Soaking it all in was amazing but watching my family experience it as well was even better," said Tim.

World-famous Blue Lagoon

It was the ultimate family adventure – four days filled with the best of the best that Iceland has to offer. The trip kicked off with a stop at the world-famous Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa whose vivid turquoise water attracts tourists from all over the world. Each day that followed brought a new sense of curiosity and wonder.

Day 2

A drive along the Golden Circle, stopping to marvel at the gorgeous sights of Thingvellir National Park, playing the waiting game anticipating when the geysir will erupt and taking in the massiveness of the Gullfoss waterfall.

Dyrh\u00f3laey cliff

Day 3

Continuing on to Vik along the stunning southern coast of Iceland visiting various sites along the way, including two of Iceland's most famous waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. A bit of rain and fog didn't deter plans to check out Dyrhólaey, where the sea meets the dramatic cliff and where you can catch a glimpse of a puffin, Iceland's most famous bird.

Kayaking through the J\u00f6kuls\u00e1rl\u00f3n Glacier Lagoon

Day 4

The fourth day began with an early wake-up call to drive to Skaftafell National Park, home to some of the most precious natural pearls of the country. Here, you'll find breathtaking scenery, rugged mountains and beautiful glaciers, and a variety of plants and wildlife. The day continued with a boat excursion at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon where you can cruise between the marvelous icebergs which regularly break off the glacier and make their way to the sea.

The Landis family will forever be able to look back on their Icelandic adventure through the awe-inspiring photography they captured. But beyond the unreal scenery, unforgettable memories and unbelievable experience, the family's #UnitedJourney trip strengthened the Landis' most precious treasure: their unbreakable bond.

"One of the biggest takeaways from the trip is that we all saw each other grow in a small way. As parents, we got to see our kids be creative while also allowing them the space to interpret the world in their own way," said Staci. "I didn't travel much as a kid so being able to be alongside them during this opportunity and watch them take it all in is truly special."

As for Tim, he says the chance to share this journey through Iceland with his family is almost indescribable.

"It was incredible to experience a multitude of 'firsts' together – new and different foods, a variety of new experiences, landscapes we're never seen before and experiencing the grandeur of so many amazing piece of natural history," he said. "This trip was one for the books and we're so thankful for the opportunity."

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

5 tips & tricks we learned during our Icelandic experience:

  • Layers, layers, layers! A famous saying in Iceland is: "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes." The expression reflects the notoriously changeable weather of the country, so pack for all four seasons because chances are, you'll experience them all in one day.
  • Rent a car. Most of Iceland's top attractions are remote and spread out around the island, and with no railway system, your options of getting around are limited. Rent a car and hit the road for the ultimate road trip! *Note: Car rental is quite pricey in Iceland but use your MileagePlus® miles to book via Hertz and earn miles for your next adventure.
  • Factor in time for extra stops. Driving around Iceland is far from boring and each turn reveals a breathtaking landscape after the next. Plan for extra stops along the way because trust us, you will want to stop and take in the beauty. Note: Fill up whenever you see a gas stations – you never know how long it'll be before you see another one.
  • Order fish and chips at least once. Surrounded by the North Atlantic, no wonder Iceland offers some of the freshest seafood around. Our favorite? The classic fish and chips, specifically from the small red shack at the entrance to Skógafoss. A must, if you ask us!
  • Prepare to throw off your sleeping habits. During the summer months, Iceland has daylight for up to 20+ hours per day while in the winter, the may only be a few hours of daylight. Either way, adjusting your body to a sleep schedule is tricky.

Inspired to take your Icelandic adventure? United offers seasonal, daily nonstop flights from Newark to Reykjavik – only a four hour and forty minute flight! Book at United.com.

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Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

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.

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