A guide to the perfect NYC holiday weekend
As anyone who's seen the classic film “Miracle on 34th Street" knows, no city in the world captures the spirit of the winter holidays quite like New York City. From late November until mid-January, the five boroughs of NYC transform themselves from an exciting and sophisticated urban mecca to a magical and wondrous destination unlike any other. To help make your holiday in New York City extra festive, here are some spectacular sights and attractions that you won't want to miss.
The Rockefeller Christmas tree
A merry tradition that dates back more than eight decades, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is an iconic symbol of the holidays that draws upwards of 125 million visitors each season. This year's tree is a towering Norway spruce grown in Pennsylvania. Standing 75 feet tall and weighing almost 13 tons, the beautiful behemoth is decorated with five miles worth of energy efficient LED lights, and topped with a crystal-covered star priced at $35,000. The tree remains lit from November 29 until January 7, and is the perfect place to begin an unforgettable weekend trip in NYC.
Bryant Park Winter Village
This open-air market in Midtown Manhattan is often referred to as NYC's official winter wonderland, and for very good reason. Featuring delicious snacks from more than three dozen food vendors, as well as luxury shopping and family-friendly seasonal events, it's a one-stop destination for holiday fun. But it's the 17,000-square-foot outdoor skating rink that's the main attraction. From 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. daily, visitors can take to the ice for free under the crisp New York sky. If you forgot your skates at home, don't worry — you can rent a pair for only $20.
Holiday window displays
New York City and shopping are virtually synonymous, which is why the city's biggest and brightest department stores pull out all the stops each year when it comes to their holiday window displays. If you're looking for stunning artistry, make your way to the windows at Bergdorf Goodman. They've partnered with seven humanitarian charities to design their windows this year, and the results are truly incredible. For classic charm, try the colorful windows at Lord & Taylor. This season, visitors can marvel at animated displays with themes like Arctic Adventures, Holiday Circus and Winter Woodlands.
Dinner at Rolf's restaurant
While most restaurants throughout the city add a bit of holiday décor each year, none go as far as Rolf's, a beloved German eatery in Gramercy Park. More than 15,000 Christmas ornaments and 100,000 twinkling lights cover every available inch inside this 50-year-old restaurant, making it a popular attraction that's well worth visiting. As if that wasn't jolly enough, thousands of icicle decorations and hundreds of vintage toy dolls hang from the ceiling, giving the restaurant a surreal quality you'll never forget. The delicious handmade pork sausages and chicken schnitzel are an added bonus!
Tea at the Plaza Hotel
Beautifully decorated with lights and wreaths each year to celebrate the holidays, this landmark destination in the heart of the city personifies the style and elegance of NYC, and is an ideal spot to visit after a walking tour of nearby Central Park. To warm up after a stroll, reserve a table at The Plaza's historic Palm Court, a lovely dining venue with special holiday tea offerings throughout the season. For visitors with children, The Santa Experience at The Plaza is open in the hotel's main concourse from November 24 until December 24.
Dyker Heights Christmas lights
When it comes to dazzling lights and outrageous decorations, this walking tour through the residential Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights has been drawing huge crowds since the 1980s. Each night in December (excluding Christmas Eve and Day), visitors can enjoy an astonishing guided tour, either on foot or by bus, that will leave them utterly breathless. Though many of the elaborate displays are designed and built by professional staging companies, the majority are crafted by individual homeowners competing with each other to see who can attract the most attention.
Union Square Holiday Market
No matter who is on your gift list this year, you'll have no trouble finding just what you're looking for at this popular outdoor holiday market located in Union Square Park. Open from November 16 until December 24, this European-style shopping destination includes more than 150 vendors selling intricately handcrafted merchandise and artwork in a beautiful outdoor setting. An impressive assortment of local food vendors helps add to the festive ambiance, making the Union Square Holiday Market one of NYC's must-visit winter attractions.
If you go
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
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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.