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 Airlines Plans to Begin Flights Between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria in November

United to operate the first ever nonstop flight between Washington, D.C. and Lagos and offer more flights between D.C. and Africa than any other carrier
By United Newsroom, September 17, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines announced today that new service between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria will begin November 29 (subject to government approval). The airline will operate three weekly flights connecting the U.S. capital to Nigeria's largest city, which is also the top Western African destination for U.S-based travelers. Tickets will be available for sale on united.com and the United app this weekend.

"This new flight to Lagos has been highly anticipated by our customers and offers the first ever nonstop service between Washington, D.C. and Nigeria, as well as convenient, one-stop connections to over 80 destinations throughout the Americas including Houston and Chicago," said Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of international network and alliances. "On behalf of all of United we'd like to offer our sincere thanks to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and U.S. Department of Transportation for supporting our plans to provide this service."

"We are honored to work with our partners at United Airlines to welcome their second nonstop connection from Dulles International to the African continent," said Carl Schultz, acting vice president of airline business development at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. "Lagos joins nearly 50 other nonstop international destinations currently served by the National Capital Region's gateway to the world."

United will operate this route with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner featuring 28 United Polaris® business class lie-flat seats, 21 United Premium Plus® premium economy seats, 36 Economy Plus® seats and 158 standard economy seats. This flight is the only service between the U.S. and Nigeria to offer premium economy product. Flights will depart Washington, D.C. on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and return from Lagos on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

This new flight builds on United's expansion into Africa and solidifies United's leadership position to Africa from the D.C. metro area, with more flights to the continent than any other airline. Just this year, United launched new service between New York/Newark and Johannesburg, South Africa and between Washington, D.C. and Accra, Ghana. And this December and January, United will increase its service to Accra from three weekly flights to daily* as customers travel home for the winter holidays. United is also returning its popular service between New York/Newark and Cape Town, South Africa on December 1.

United's new flights comply with each country's COVID-19 protocols and customers should check destination requirements before traveling.

Making International Travel Easier

United is the only U.S. airline to offer its own one-stop-shop where customers can conveniently get "travel-ready" by finding a location to schedule a COVID-19 test as well as upload and store their test results and vaccination records directly through the airline's website and award-winning mobile app with the Travel-Ready Center. The airline's easy-to-use travel tool available on United's mobile app enables customers to reduce stress and save valuable time at the airport right from the palm of their hand. United also announced a collaboration with Abbott and became the first U.S. carrier to set up an easy way for international travelers to bring a CDC-approved test with them, self-administer while abroad, and return home.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website. 
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to  purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

*daily flights to Accra this winter are subject to government approval


SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com

United, Honeywell Invest in New Clean Tech Venture from Alder Fuels, Powering Biggest Sustainable Fuel Agreement in Aviation History

United agrees to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over 20 years - which is one and a half times the size of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced SAF commitments combined
By United Newsroom, September 09, 2021

CHICAGO and DES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United and Honeywell today announced a joint multimillion-dollar investment in Alder Fuels – a cleantech company that is pioneering first-of-its-kind technologies for producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at scale by converting abundant biomass, such as forest and crop waste, into sustainable low-carbon, drop-in replacement crude oil that can be used to produce aviation fuel. When used together across the fuel lifecycle, the Alder technologies, coupled with Honeywell's Ecofining™ process, could have the ability to produce a carbon-negative fuel at spec with today's jet fuel. The goal of the technologies is to produce fuel that is a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum jet fuel.

United Airlines to Present at the 14th Annual Cowen Global Transportation & Sustainable Mobility Conference

By United Newsroom, September 01, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United (NASDAQ:UAL) will present at the 14th Annual Cowen Global Transportation & Sustainable Mobility Conference on Thursday, September 9. The presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m. CT / 11:30 a.m. ET.

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