Treat Yourself to Tahiti: A Polynesian Paradise - United Hub
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Treat yourself to Tahiti: A Polynesian paradise

By Bob Cooper, April 10, 2018

Travelers eager to expand their island horizons should give the exotic Tahitian islands a try. The South Pacific island of Tahiti and the neighboring French Polynesian islands of Moorea, Bora Bora and Huahine are more accessible than ever, with United nonstop flights from San Francisco to Tahiti launching October 30. The snorkeling, diving, hiking and beaches are memorable, whether it's on a romantic getaway or a trip with family or friends.

Aeriel shot of overwater bungalows in French Polynesia

Tahiti

There's plenty for visitors to do on the island of Tahiti from the moment they arrive at Faa'a International Airport near the capital of Papeete. The biggest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti is split into two sections — the bigger northwestern side of Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, the southeastern side. Tahiti is the cultural, economic and political capital of the French Polynesian islands with nearly 69 percent of the islands' inhabitants living there.

Waterfalls of all sizes, created by the combination of steep slopes and bounteous rainfall in the high volcanic mountains, can be seen on hiking trails in fern-filled “waterfall valleys." Head to Teahupo'o Beach, where monster waves have made the beach legendary among big-wave surfers. In fact, the beach is the site of the annual Billabong surf competition where some of the world's best surfers compete, making it a great place to watch the action from the sand. Like all Polynesian islands, the snorkeling and diving — with about two-dozen lagoons, ocean reefs, caves and shipwrecks accessible from land or on boat excursions — are amazing.

Depending on your budget, stay at one of the more luxurious resorts with overwater bungalows or opt for a lower cost and more traditional experience by staying at guesthouses and pensions (homestays).

Luxury thatched roof bungalows on Moorea

Moorea

A ferry ride lasting about 45 minutes brings you from the island of Tahiti to Moorea, 15 miles across the Sea of the Moon. Similar to Tahiti, saw-toothed volcanic mountains overlook white-sand beaches. Endless activity options include mountain hiking, snorkeling and diving. Moorea is a little quieter than its bigger neighbor, with smaller lodgings mixed in with big beach resorts. Surrounding the San Francisco-sized island are deep coral reefs visitors can explore in snorkeling or diving gear and ocean surf filled with dolphins. On the land are trails you can follow on horseback or a rented bike; surfing and kitesurfing beaches where relaxation rules; and restaurants that incorporate coconut in seemingly every dish.

Palm trees overlooking tropical resort, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora

It's hard to argue the claim by Tales of the South Pacific author James Michener that Bora Bora is the world's most beautiful island. A ring of islets almost completely surrounds Bora Bora, protecting it from the big waves of the Pacific Ocean. This results in a huge, donut-shaped, sandy-bottomed playground of calm aquamarine waters in which to snorkel, dive, kayak and paddleboard all day. There's only one beach, but it's a beauty with powdery white sand. You can also hike up 2,159-foot Mt. Pahia. Dining ranges from elegant Polynesian restaurants to food trucks serving grilled fish. Most accommodations are on the pricier side — the island is famous for its overwater bungalows — but this favorite island of honeymooners is worth it. It's only a 50-minute plane hop from neighboring Tahiti.

Huahine

Nicknamed the Garden of Eden, Huahine is even more low-key than its neighbors. There are no colossal beach resorts, but an ample number of boutique resorts, inns and bungalows. There are also abundant activity choices, including hiking, visiting the ancient village of Maeva (where a number of centuries-old royal temples have been restored by archaeologists), snorkeling through coral gardens and diving at unique dive sites. More than its famous neighbors, it's a place to tune out the world on some of the South Pacific's finest beaches. A 40-minute plane ride delivers you from Tahiti to this serene refuge.

View of overwater bungalows in Tahiti

What to know before you go

When to go The climate of the Tahitian islands is tropical as the temperature gauge seldom leaves the 70s and 80s day or night. That's also the water temperature range, which peaks in November through April (Tahiti's “summer") in the low 80s — perfect for snorkeling without a wetsuit.

Getting there United Airlines flights to Tahiti begin October 30, with three weekly nonstop flights between San Francisco and Papeete, departing each city on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Visas aren't required for North Americans or Europeans.

Culture While French is the official language, Tahitian is widely spoken by the natives. However, most Tahitians in the tourism sector speak English. The currency is the CFP Franc, which you may want to use to purchase pearl jewelry — pearl farms are widespread on the islands. Tattoo art is also well-known on the islands as the form has been perfected for centuries in the South Seas.

Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your Tahitian adventure.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

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.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

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.

United cargo-only flights transport critical goods

By The Hub team

When the pandemic began, United Cargo knew it would be critical to utilize its fleet, network and industry-leading pharmaceutical handling processes to transport a COVID-19 vaccine when the time came.

Connecting vaccines to the world: United responds to mass distribution effort

December 22, 2020

On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.

Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.

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