The Treasures of Tanzania - United Hub

The treasures of Tanzania

By The Hub team

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By Flight Dispatcher Jonathan Uhrig

I originally intended to do this trip as a Kilimanjaro climb and trip to Zanzibar Island, however, I settled on two safaris due to time constraint. The first part of the safari was visiting four national parks and the second was visiting Selous Game Reserve in the south of the country via Cessna on a dirt airstrip. I used Tanzania-Experience.com for my planning. I flew from Chicago to Dubai and from there to Dar Es Salaam. I then flew on Dar Es Salaam to Kilimanjaro Airport, which is surprisingly a very modern airport.

A bit of history about Tanzania: It was formerly the German colony of Tanganyika and was taken over by the British as part of Germany's war reparations from World War I. Tanganyika got its independence from Britain in 1961 and was renamed Tanzania to incorporate Tanganyika and the former independent colony of Zanzibar Island hence the name, Tanzania.

During my first two nights, I stayed in the African View Lodge in Usa River near the town of Arusha. On the first full day of my vacation, I had a free day so I went to the Arusha Central Market where spices, coffees and souvenirs can be purchased. I also visited a snake farm and the Maasai museum. The Maasai people are natives who live in mud huts in the area and are mainly farmers. It is not uncommon to see children, as young as five, with a stick on the side of the road guiding 50-60 head of cattle.

On the first full day of the safari, you get a safety brief and meet the other people you will be traveling with. All safaris use Land Cruisers with a capacity of seven passengers. There is a small compartment in the back for luggage as you travel from lodge to lodge. I traveled with two German couples and a man from Minneapolis. Our first stop was Tarangire National Park, known for its native Baobab Tree. As we made our way to this National Park I saw every animal imaginable, including lions, elephants, giraffes and hippos. I didn't see a rhino until I got to Ngorongoro Crater.

We spent the second day at Lake Manyara, which has more than 600 species of birds. I saw a ton of baboons -- about 200 migrating from one area to another. Lake Manyara is also part of the African Rift Valley, the mountain chain runs from deep in the continent north to Kenya and beyond. The mosquito and Tse Tse fly is prevalent in this area so be sure to use repellent. The Tse Tse fly has a long needlelike proboscis and its bite can be painful.

The third day was the height of the trip with a visit to the Serengeti and a hot air balloon ride. The hot air balloon stays low initially so you have great views of the wildlife below, including the hippos in the river. Then the balloon gently climbs to an altitude of 3,000 feet. From this height, I saw giraffes, gazelles, lions and many acacia trees. It is the only way to see the Serengeti. Afterwards, there is a champagne salute at the landing site to commemorate the first balloon flight in the 1700s. After the toast you are treated to an outdoor brunch and get to sit and talk with the balloon captain. You are even given a certificate for the ride.

The balance of the trip was spent going to Ngorongoro Crater which is home to 27 rhinos. The rhinos are protected here because their horn is coveted by illegal hunters/poachers. I saw hundreds of animals in Ngorongoro Crater thanks to migration season - mainly for zebras and wildebeests. After Ngorongoro, I spent time at a real Maasai Village where they greeted us with their native dance and we got a chance to see their mud hut first hand. Their "kitchen" consists of an open fire, and a typical mud hut has two simple compartments for sleeping. That night, we drove to Ngorongoro Farm House located on a coffee plantation. We took a coffee walking tour and were briefed in detail about the seeding, planting, harvesting and processing of Arabica coffee.

The last two days were spent in the Selous. I flew there in a Cessna Caravan out of Arusha Airport - not as modern as Kilimanjaro but interesting nonetheless. The Selous has its own dirt airstrip so our pilot had to do two go arounds because there was a giraffe on the active runway. In the Selous, I went on another safari that also included walking the safari the next morning and a river cruise on the Rufiji River.

On the last day we were in Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. I had just enough time to witness the colorful and chaotic atmosphere at the fish market before heading home.

If Tanzania is in your travel plans, you won't be disappointed - it was a wonderful learning experience and very fun.

Things to note before you go:

  • A Visa is required for Tanzania.
  • Yellow Fever vaccine is not required, however, see your physician about other medical requirements.
  • If you plan on doing the hot air balloon trip, be sure to bring plenty of sun block, a hat and warm clothing.

Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

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