Let the Good Times Roll - United Hub

Let the good times roll

For the first time in 50 years, Americans can legally get their hands on Cuban cigars. Here, a beginner's guide to finding the best stogie.

By The Hub team

Story by Richard Morgan |Rhapsody, December 2016

La Casa del Habano in Havana's Miramar neighborhood is nicknamed Quinta Avenida—Fifth Avenue—for good reason. It's essentially the Tiffany's of tobacco: a marble-tiled smoking room with plush armchairs, an immense walk-in humidor, and a roaming peacock.

Carlos Robaina has been tending the store for nearly a decade. He is as close to tobacco royalty as it gets. His father, Alejandro Robaina, the most prominent tobacco titan in the world, received a medal in the 1990s from Fidel Castro that acknowledged him to be the country's best grower; his son, Hirochi Robaina, now runs the plantation that has been in their family since 1845.

But here at the Miramar shop's restaurant—the only cigar-shop restaurant in Havana—over cortaditos (Cuban espressos) that taste as rich and earthy as the smoke in the air, Robaina laughs when a visitor asks which cigar is best. “Which wine is best?" he asks. “Do not choose it. Let it choose you."

Choices now abound for American tobacco lovers. Cuban cigars have always been freely available in London, Rome, Shanghai, and anywhere that didn't have an embargo against Cuban goods, but they have attained legendary status for Americans—not only for their greatness, but for their forbidden greatness.

Now, with commercial flights from America landing in Havana for the first time in half a century, Cuban cigars are, well, catching fire. In October, the Obama administration lifted the five-decade-long trade ban on cigars, allowing Americans to purchase as many as they want as long as they are for personal consumption. This will no doubt spur even more travel to the country. Next year's annual Habano Cigar Festival, from February 25 to March 4, is expected to be record-setting.

“Like your vacation, a cigar is an experience that begins to end the moment you start it. Until you try it again."

As for picking the cigars themselves, there are two main approaches, one for shop purchases and one for factory purchases. According to Richard Carleton Hacker, author of The Ultimate Cigar Book, when buying a box in a shop, it's always best to check the cigars' shade and the degree to which the tobacco is all the same color. The idea is not to favor dark over light—that's a matter of personal taste—but rather that the tobacco in the box is consistent; a mixed box is a poorly made box. And on individual cigars, it's important to check the wrapper for tears, holes, or dark spots; damaged wrappers will hinder the smoking experience.

In factories, on the other hand, Hacker says, “you can have the experience of driving your Mercedes right off the assembly line in Stuttgart." Cuban cigars are hand-rolled, and the rollers are rated on their skill level; grade-seven rollers are the best, able to roll figurados—cigars in complicated shapes. While it's rude to ask a roller directly what his or her grade is, Hacker advises asking the factory manager to point out who the sevens are.

Back in the Miramar shop, Carlos Robaina isn't discussing color, shape, grade, or even price. Strolling through the humidor, he waves at his cache of tobacco. “You can buy it, but you cannot have it," he says. “These are not cigars. This is Cuba. Like your vacation, a cigar is an experience that begins to end the moment you start it." He smiles. “Until you try it again."

United cargo-only flights transport critical goods

By The Hub team

When the pandemic began, United Cargo knew it would be critical to utilize its fleet, network and industry-leading pharmaceutical handling processes to transport a COVID-19 vaccine when the time came.

Connecting vaccines to the world: United responds to mass distribution effort

December 22, 2020

On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.

Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Airline and its customers use crowdsourcing platform - Miles on a Mission - to donate more than 11 million miles for charities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care
By United Newsroom, December 01, 2020

CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Why we fly

By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

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.

Scroll to top