Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month
Updated October 13, 2016
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we've asked a few of our team members to share stories and tips from their home countries.
Malecòn, the main road and seawall along the coast in Havana, Cuba.
Below meet Hermes as he shares his memories and tips from his home country of Cuba. His family moved from Cuba to Madrid in 1970 when he was seven years old.
Pictured left is a young Hermes sporting a traditional Cuban attire. On the right is a childhood celebration in Havana.
Hermes Pineda - Managing Director of Airport Operations and Cargo Human Resources
Cuban culture is unique in the Caribbean. Cuban people love music and we love to dance. For many years, Havana was the epicenter of the Caribbean for aspiring musicians looking to make it big, and many did, like Celia Cruz and Benny More. Today, Cubans continue to love their music, and also relish sports like baseball, boxing, and track and field. In addition, the art scene there, led by many wonderful — but not well-known — painters and sculptors, is exploding.
As in many other Caribbean countries, food and drink are an important part of Cuban life. Thinly sliced green plantains, and rice and black beans are staples. Seafood is always great there; after all, it is the largest island in the Caribbean. Roasted pork is a delicacy typically reserved for festive times or special occasions. If you visit, look for small, family-owned restaurants for the most authentic cuisine. A Cuba Libre made with Havana Club rum is a delicious traditional drink.
I'm excited to go back once United resumes service to Havana in November. Of course I'm curious to see the people and places after all these years. My half-brother still has family and friends there, so I am looking forward to reconnecting with them. Cuban people are warm and welcoming, and they're happy that more Americans will be coming to the island.
When you visit, skip the tourist traps and get out into the local neighborhoods and the countryside to see Cuba for what it really is. Walk around and meet people, sample the food and experience all that it has to offer. In Havana, go and see the Malecòn, the main road and seawall along the beachfront. Seek out the now up-and-coming artists; many of them are becoming more publicized now, and art dealers are taking notice. The squares or, plazas, in Cuba are actually quite similar to those in Spain and Italy, with painters on the corners selling their work.
Machu Picchu, an Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru.
Below meet Hector and Patty as they share insights and recommendations from their home country of Peru.
Above left Hector with his mom, pictured right is Machu Picchu, a main attraction in Peru.
Hector Calderon – Dulles based ramp supervisor
Home to Machu Picchu and the capital of the Incan Empire, visiting Peru is a life-changing experience. Though our family moved to the U.S., we still have relatives in Baranco, a district of Lima where my mom lived. Similarly to many Hispanic countries, Peru is very family-oriented. It is common for many generations to live together – it is actually pretty rare for people to move out of their family home.
Tradition and history are very important to Peruvians and are easily maintained due to generations living so close together. We share traditional meals and really enjoy home cooking. Unlike in the U.S., there aren't many big corporations and most of the restaurants are mom and pop shops serving up traditional Peruvian dishes like ceviche. Ceviche is a seafood dish made from raw fish that has been marinated in citrus juice and mixed with vegetables such as onions and tomatoes. This dish pairs perfectly with pisco, Peru's high-proof spirit made from distilled grapes.
Additionally, there's plenty to see in Peru. Of course, there is Machu Picchu, where the archaeological remains from the Incan Empire are still very much intact. If you visit Peru you will undoubtedly visit this site where buildings, walls, stairs and life from our ancestors can still be seen. It's surreal to know that this was once the home to Incans, at what was the peak of the empire's power.
Above Patty is hiking on the Inca Trails.
Patty Alvitez – Portland based airport operations supervisor
I moved to the U.S., but have many relatives, including my parents, who still live in Lima. When I go back to Peru I always go straight to my parent's home. We love to go to a restaurant called La Rosa Nautica. It's a fine dining restaurant on the ocean pier very close to Miraflores, an upscale residential and shopping district. It's a great place to spend special occasions. You'll definitely need to try a pisco sour, a Peruvian drink made from pisco, egg whites and lime juice.
First, you should head to Aguas Calientes, a three-and-a-half hour train ride from Cusco where you can spend the day hiking, eating delicious foods and if you are like me and love shopping, there are plenty of great shops to peruse. I recommend spending the night in Aguas Calientes and waking up early to see the sunrise on Machu Picchu. That morning you can take a 15-minute van to Machu Picchu. It is truly the most beautiful sight.
Another attraction to see are the Inca Trails that stretch between the city of Cusco and all the way to the ruins of Machu Picchu. There are many different trail routes that you can take with varying difficulty levels, but it's an amazing way to see the gorgeous countryside, rivers, waterfalls, animals and the Andes Mountains. Some trail routes lead to the Cocalmayo hot springs, which is also a bonus.
This year, United is celebrating its 50
th year serving Mexico. Below are stories about what you can expect to find and what you should do when visiting Mexico City.
Mexico's all-inclusive resorts and gorgeous beaches make it a popular vacation destination. Traveling inward from the beaches to some of Mexico's landlocked areas is where you will find some of Mexico's most historical districts.
Zocalo is the main square of Mexico city, and was once the Aztec's ceremonial center.
Ricardo Albarran Sanchez – Denver based Flight Attendant
Mexico City is a blend of a modern, cosmopolitan city mixed with remnants from the city's past. There are high-rise buildings, amazing architecture, the people are always welcoming and the population is growing rapidly. Churches, temples and even a castle remain from years of conquistadors. The
Chapultepec Castle dates back to the 1700's when it was home to royalty. Today, Mexico's National History Museum lives in the castle, I highly suggest checking it out.
Ricardo also suggests traveling just 50 miles south of Mexico City where you'll find the small country town of Cuernavaca, the perfect place for rest and relaxation. Locals enjoy visiting Cuernavaca to socialize, catch up on politics and to enjoy time out from the day to day rush. Think of it as the Hamptons of Mexico City, only full of Mexican tradition and culture.
Pictured left is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On the right is Arlette overlooking Mexico City.
Arlette Martinez - Cargo Analysis Representative, Chicago
My dad lived in Guanajuato and my mom lived in Hidalgo, both states are very close to Mexico City, in Central, Southern Mexico. I still have a lot of family there, which gives me an excuse to visit almost once a year. Each neighborhood has a plaza that is brimming with authentic Mexican culture. Locals congregate in the plazas to enjoy shops, vendors selling artifacts, traditional Mexican restaurants and street food. My favorite plazas are in Coyoacan, which is a historic borough in Mexico City's Federal District, and Zocalo which is the main plaza in Mexico City and once the center of the Aztec capital.
Just 30 minutes away from Zocalo is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is one of the world's most visited Catholic shrines. Even if you're not interested in religion the Basilica's architecture is truly unique.
Cathedral of Granada
Below meet Francisco and Ana as they share stories and tips from their home country of Nicaragua.
La Cruz de Bobadilla is a cross planted at the tip of the volcano to drive away evil.
Francisco Maestas - Airport Operations Customer Service Manager, Houston
My family is from Somoto, a city in northern Nicaragua. I love visiting my family in Nicaragua, my grandparents lived in a small town called Leon. When you visit Nicaragua you must see the Granada, the Spanish colonial ruins that survived numerous invasions. Also visiting the Masaya Volcano is a must. The volcano is still active, but you can hike up it and tour the underground tunnels that were created by flowing lava. My favorite memory is swimming in Laguna de Xiloa, a volcanic crater that is filled with fresh water — the aquatic life and snorkeling is amazing.
Above left Ana arrives at Corn Island, pictured right is surf town, San Juan del Sur
Ana Carranza - Ramp Service Employee, Los Angeles
When you come to Nicaragua you will notice how welcoming the locals are, and how diverse the country is from its people to its geography. The Corn Islands off the Atlantic coast offer a serene atmosphere for relaxing — you won't believe that you're still in Nicaragua with how mellow the islands are. On the pacific side there is the vibrant San Juan del Sur,, a coastal town known for its exuberant surf community. The best time to come to Nicaragua is during Semana Santa, or Holy Week, at the end of March. There are tons of festivities, carnivals and the beaches come alive with people enjoying time with their loved ones.
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.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
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.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
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.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
Watch our most popular videos
This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.