Santiago: Gateway to Chile's Wines, Waves and Mountains - United Hub

Santiago: Gateway to Chile’s wines, waves and mountains

By Bob Cooper

There are many similarities between Santiago and Los Angeles — they share the same climate (mild and dry) and progressive, cosmopolitan energy. And both of these major cities are close to stunning beaches, wine valleys, mountains and major astronomical observatories. You might call Santiago the Southern California of South America.

Sample Santiago

Santiago's must-see landmarks are the Metropolitan Cathedral and Pre-Columbian Art Museum, but apart from the churches, museums and palaces of central Santiago, every visitor needs to experience the places that enliven the city — the markets, parks and neighborhoods. Central Market houses a legion of vendors and food purveyors inside a cavernous hall built in 1872. The National Zoo and an iconic hilltop Virgin Mary statue can be visited in Metropolitan Park. Barrio Italia (hip hotels, galleries and cafes) and Providencia (excellent restaurants and bars) are top neighborhoods in this city. Both day and night, Santiago is a walking city made for exploring.

Hit the beaches

Beach towns and seaside resorts line central Chile's Pacific coast, some within an hour of Santiago. Notable are the quiet village of Isla Negra, where poet Pablo Neruda's former home is now a museum, and the bustling beach resort city of Vina del Mar, brimming with high-rise hotels and casinos. But the highlight of any coastal foray is the colorful and historic city of Valparaiso. Only one hour from Santiago, the city of 300,000 is home to seven universities and 15 funiculars that climb the steep hills that characterize the city.

Wander the wine country

Some of the best Chilean wines are made just outside Santiago in the Maipo Valley. Wine tourism there is as robust as the cabernet sauvignons poured in the valley's numerous tasting rooms, and it's possible to visit several wineries on a single day trip from Santiago to Maipo or one of several other nearby wine valleys. It's best to take a wine bus so that you can taste at several wineries without having to worry about driving after, and the views of the nearby Andes from some of the wineries are just as spectacular as the wines.

See the stars

If you prefer stargazing to wine tasting, you can head north to one of the many observatories in Chile, regarded as the best collection of them in the world. Using Santiago as your launch pad to the stars, consider stops to see the ALMA Observatory (the world's largest astronomy center), the visitor-friendly Mamalluca Observatory and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory. The cold, dry, usually cloudless night air makes these spots ideal for stargazing. On July 2, you can even see the stars before dusk as that's the date of the next total solar eclipse and northern Chile is the best place to experience it. Observatories are located within a few hours of Santiago, too.

Ascend the Andes

The Andes soar skyward so close to Santiago that you can drive or take a tour bus right over them (via a 9,000-foot pass) to the Argentine wine city of Mendoza and back in one day. The twisty trip is a treat as you'll see two great wine regions and one great mountain range in a single day. Adventurous travelers may prefer to lengthen the trip by stopping to stay overnight at Portillo, one of several ski resorts within a few hours of Santiago, to enjoy skiing or hiking, depending on the season.

The basics

When, where and how

Chile boasts the top safety rankings on the continent. It's also easy to get around. Taxis, subways and Uber are all good options at the airport and in Santiago. For trips to the beaches, wineries, the Andes or Valparaiso, it's best to reserve a tour bus so you can enjoy the scenery and meet fellow travelers rather than stress over directions and traffic. Also, auto rentals in Chile are pricey. If you're looking to visit during Chile's summer, remember it's between December and March. But the best times to visit are late-September through November or March through May when you'll experience the typical mild temperatures, but thinner crowds and affordable prices.

Getting there

United flies nonstop from Houston to Santiago – though there are flights from multiple cities to Houston. Reserve your flight at united.com or on the United app.

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United's regional presidents join respective Governor's COVID-19 task force

By Ryan Wilks, May 21, 2020

As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.

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 throughout your travel experience.

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
    Introducing 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

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
    Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
  • 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
    Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
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    • Moving customers seated closely together
    • De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
  • 8
    Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
  • 9
    Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles

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.

A message from Scott Kirby, United’s new CEO

By The Hub team, May 20, 2020


Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.

While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.

First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.

As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.

Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.

We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.

But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.

Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.

Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.

While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.

Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.

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