Let the Good Times Roll - United Hub

Let the good times roll

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 and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

Making every step of the travel journey safer for you

By United Airlines, May 20, 2020
United Clean Plus | Clorox

We remain passionate about connecting the world safely

United CleanPlus SM is our commitment to putting health and safety at the forefront of your journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness. We're teaming up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures, and over the coming months, we'll roll out Clorox products across our U.S. airports, starting in select locations, to help support a healthy and safe environment, and to provide transparency and choice throughout the travel journey.

At the airport

  • At check-in:

  • 1
    Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
  • 2
    Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
  • 3
    Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
  • 4
    Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
  • 5
    Rolling out touchless check-in for customers with bags
  • At the gate:

  • 6
    Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
  • 7
    Providing hand sanitizer and
    disinfectant wipes
  • 8
    Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
  • 9
    Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing
  • 10
    Rolling out Clorox Total 360 Electrostatic Sprayers to disinfect in the airport

On our aircraft

  • 1
    Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
  • 2
    Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
  • 3
    Providing onboard items like pillows and blankets upon request
  • 4
    Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
  • 5
    Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
  • 6
    Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
  • 7
    Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft
  • 8
    Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove 99.97% of airborne particles
    • The cabin recirculated air is exchanged every 2-3 minutes

Cleveland Clinic We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.

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