Turks and Caicos - United Hub
rhapsody

Turks and Caicos

By The Hub team, March 22, 2017

Story by Richard Morgan | Photography by Michael George| Rhapsody, March 2017

At a yoga retreat on a private island, an exercise-averse writer finds his lotus operandi

I stood on the beach at sunset, as ordered, fretful and even fearful for my rendezvous. The sun, that glowing yolk, spilled across the shores and waves of Parrot Cay, a private island resort in Turks and Caicos, bathing white sands and coral-and-periwinkle clouds in sumptuous warmth. And there she was: a woman sitting cross-legged with her back to me, with the sun and the breeze and, hell, the whole universe swirling through her flowing brunette tresses and exotic floral clothes.

“Is that her?" asked a new friend, a six-packed blonde woman from San Francisco taking her first vacation in two years.

“I think so," I said, stroking my jaw as if to pull answers from it.

“It must be," the blonde said. “Look at her. She's so holy. Perfect. Isn't she just like you imagined?"

Even though this holy woman must've been 10 or 20 feet away from me, a voice filled my head as if coming from right next to me. “You must be Richard." Gentle and forceful, the way angels or flight attendants speak. It was cosmic.

The path to the ocean from the resortThe path to the ocean

Then, a force on my shoulder. A hand. I spun, and there she was: Elena Brower, the celebrity yogi I had come to meet, was standing beside me. The sunset woman, it turned out, was a case of mistaken identity. “Let's do this," said Brower, who has been teaching the likes of Eva Mendes and Naomi Watts since 1999. I cackled. It was the first of many times we would surprise each other that week.

We strolled along the beach. She cussed.She joked. She teased. In short, she shocked the hell out of me. But she also read the doubt in my face and smiled.

“Let me show you as we walk back," she said. “Think of five things you can hear. Your feet on the sand, the wind, the waves, my voice, but what else? Push your ears. Reach out around you. Welcome that fifth sound. That is meditation. That is yoga. Easier than you thought, isn't it?"

I hadn't known what to think. I did not come to this yoga retreat. I was sent. My editor sent me, frankly, because I didn't belong.

The author cools down after classThe author cools down after class

The most flexible and spiritual I get is when I cross my fingers. I lettered for three years on my high school track team as a statistician. In college, I took social dance as my P.E. requirement. I hadn't set foot in a gym in years. I'm even terrible at vacations—especially beach vacations, given that I don't know how to swim. On the shores of various paradises, I stare out into a cloudless Caribbean or perfect Pacific vista as if it were a Rothko of teals at a museum, full of anxiety about how long I have to look at the damn thing before moving on to the next exhibit without being scolded by the art lovers around me. Yoga, I thought, was for Himalayan splendor. Not for me, a man of I'm-a-layin' languor.

“This is the kind of paradise where the horizon does the exhaling for you."

But now I had been assigned to four and a half hours of yoga a day—two and a half at 9 a.m. and another two at 5 p.m. Yoga, for all its mellow mantras, was about to kick my butt.

I deflected my anxiety with dumb jokes. Before class started, I did a bunch of weird fake yoga positions. “Winner pose!" I cheered, mimicking the Heisman Trophy. “Stud pose!" (A bodybuilder pose.) “Star pose!" (Jazz hands.)

On top of all of Brower's en masse classes—thousands of practitioners in Central Park or under the Eiffel Tower—she also offers a handful of retreats each year (to Costa Rica, Germany, California). But the week at COMO Parrot Cay is special—the only one she returns to year after year. Next November's will be her ninth. And why not? It's the kind of paradise where the horizon does the exhaling for you. Even at peak capacity, tucked within its private banana and coconut plantations, the resort never feels full. It frees you to find your own fullness. It's not for getting trashed. It's for getting treasured. After the airport novels and self-help books and guru guides, the oasis whispers your own story to you. Bring a journal.

A yoga instructor leads a yoga class on the beachBrower leads a yoga class on the beach

Brower's 2012 book, The Art of Attention, has chapter prefaces written by Donna Karan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Christy Turlington Burns. She is a much more flexible version of Oprah Winfrey or Martha Stewart. She is their higher Brower, the Brower that be, and looks like she could be Rachel Weisz's 35-year-old hippie sister (even though Brower is actually 47).

She is everything to everyone. And who was I? This lumpy, rookie interloper. This impostor in never-before-worn Uniqlo activewear. This night owl pretending to be a morning person and trudging down to my first class—in a screened-in, stand-alone riverfront yoga studio where I'd be the only man among 20 ladies who lunge.

The human brain and heart are 73 percent water. Bones are 31 percent, skin 64 percent, muscles 79 percent, and lungs 83 percent. On the whole, babies are 78 percent water, and grown men are 60 percent. But in that first yoga lesson, I was 4,000 percent water. I was a human-shaped cloud that rained nonstop onto my yoga mat. I was so sweaty that my fingers pruned. My shirt splashed when it hit the mat. At the end of the two-and-a-half-hour session, during which poses were held for as briefly as 30 seconds or as interminably as 10 minutes, I guzzled half a liter of water in one long swig. That “namaste" greeting yoga practitioners are always saying to each other? I'm pretty sure it means “don't forget to drink eight glasses of water a day."

“In honor of Richard, let's do a child's pose," Brower said halfway through that first class. I flopped to my knees and threw my arms forward, as if in prostrate prayer. A moment of relief! And suddenly, I was a child again.

“Yoga, I thought, was for Himalayan splendor. Not for me, a man of I'm-a-layin' languor"

I was in second grade, mocked for being unable to pat my head while rubbing my stomach in a circle. In fourth grade, falling off my bike, and in fifth grade, falling off my skateboard. In seventh grade, caught saying “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3" aloud during my first slow dance at my first boy-girl mixer. In ninth grade, diagnosed with a heart condition and put on the track team as a statistician instead of a runner.

When I told my friends I was going to a yoga retreat, one said, “No one will believe you"; another said, “No one will recognize you when you return." It's weird: There's an idea that yoga
transforms you but only if you're already pretty awesome—that it turns princes into kings but not frogs into princes.

Brower's Art of Attention yoga cards spread out, offering positive affirmations and yoga posesBrower's Art of Attention yoga cards, offering positive affirmations and yoga poses

And it was then, flat on my knees, that I realized that child's pose could easily be called frog's pose—and that I had remained in the pose far longer than the rest of the class. “Man down," joked Brower. I tried to mutter a pep talk to myself. If the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series, then surely I could do some yoga. But instead, under my breath, I muttered one simmering word: “Enough." I wanted to quit. I had quit swim lessons, guitar lessons, and French lessons. What was one more thing? One less thing, really.

It turns out Brower knows about quitting too. Before becoming a yogi in 1997, she was a self-described “loser stoner." Even until 2010—well into her yoga stardom—she was smoking up to half a pack of cigarettes a day. I mention it not to point fingers (Lord knows I've had my own vices) but to mention how it relates to Brower's best qualities. She's no wax-on-wax-off cryptic sensei. She wasn't the perfectly holy sunset woman. She's goofy and gentle, relatable, and candidly, unabashedly human. One night—at a group poolside dinner of jalapeño oysters, Indonesian gado gado salad, tomato sambal, fried red snapper, red lamb curry, and crab cakes with wasabi mayonnaise—she pointed at a star above us, near the moon, and claimed it was Mars because, she said, it looked red to her. Doubtful, I pulled out my phone and used an app to identify the star. It was Mars, even though it didn't look red to me. “How could you see that?" I asked. Without missing a beat, she replied: “I'm very farsighted." She rolled her eyes jokingly, a move not nearly enough yogis know how to do.

She'd stroll around during class commenting on how we were doing. Move your hand an inch to the left. Keep that heel touching the floor. Shoulders out. Chin up. Back arched. Some directions were almost purposely baffling. What does it mean to move your navel in? Or your armpits down? Or your spine forward? “I need a sassy tush from you, Richard." I broke the unspoken (unknown to me) rule: I talked back. “It's as sassy at it gets!" I said, my body trembling to keep the pose. “It's getting sassier by the minute," she joked.

One of Como Parrot Cay's rooms, which all feature four-post bedsOne of Como Parrot Cay's rooms, which all feature four-post beds

All this changed in my second lesson. She asked us to do a full lotus position. Wondering what this was, I asked the woman next to me, a practitioner of 10 years who confessed she couldn't do it but explained that it was both ankles on both thighs.

“Like this?" I asked, trying it. The woman stifled a surprised laugh. Brower suddenly sounded uncharacteristically schoolmarm-ish. “What is going on over there?" she asked. Tangled and embarrassed, I looked at her in silence and hoped she'd move on. But she didn't. She stopped the class. “Everyone! Everyone! This is Richard's second class, and he is in full lotus!" There was a smattering of oohs and aahs and applause. “You're 37 years old," she told me. “That doesn't happen. You must've been a yogi in a previous life."

“I didn't realize it was part of yoga," I said, “to put my age on blast like that."

The whole room laughed. Comic's pose!

As I looked around at them, I saw something I hadn't seen before—or had seen but not realized: Almost nobody was doing the same thing. Some had their ankles at their knees, some deep into their hips, others had just one ankle up or were just kneeling or finding their own version.

Elena Brower finds her centerElena Brower finds her center

For seemingly the first time at the retreat, despite breathing being so integral to yoga, I exhaled. I let it out. All the stress, all the pressure, all the wondering how I'm doing. Gone in a puff of hot, stale air.

My third eye opened. My lotus operandi.

“Will you do this when you go home?" people asked me all that week. “Probably not," I said, “but I have awakened something that I can only call my body's conscience."

I had seen that the obstacle course is also scenic. I had learned I couldn't get an A+ in yoga, that it wasn't even exercise, that it wasn't about building muscle but shedding ego. Here was my fairy-tale
ending: Yoga kisses frogs not in the hopes of them becoming princes but because frogs are amazing and deserving of love.

For me, at some bourgie point, vacations became a matter of acquisition over meditation, of getting more than being more, of bucket-list check marks as status objects. A vacation was something I could win.

Now I knew: It doesn't matter.

In my life, only three things have mattered. First, in my teens in North Carolina, I realized I was gay. Then, in my 20s in New York, I realized I was a writer. Lastly—finally—in my 30s in Turks and Caicos,I realized I was this one simmering word: enough.

United Cargo moving more medical supplies and PPE

By Matt Adams, April 08, 2020

As the COVID-19 crisis has evolved, United's cargo operation has emerged as a critical conduit for getting life-saving goods where they're needed most.

Last week, we helped Flexport.org, the social impact arm of a freight forwarder based in San Francisco, import two shipments of medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) destined for New York and California. The first of those loads arrived in San Francisco from Shanghai aboard a chartered United Boeing 787-9 on Wednesday. It contained 1,000 ventilators, 70,000 goggles and 300,000 masks, all of which were donated by Alibaba cofounder and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai and his wife, Clara Wu Tsai. Those items were then put on a United 777 and flown to EWR, where they were distributed to 14 hospitals, medical centers and nursing homes in the New York City region.

The second shipment came into San Francisco the following day containing surgical gowns, hazmat suits and several million more masks for first responders in California. United employees unloaded that aircraft upon arrival and helped get the PPE onto trucks for delivery to Bay Area hospitals.

We are operating, on average, 20 cargo-only flights each day between six U.S. hubs and cities in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. In the process of doing so, we are moving thousands of pounds of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and PPE, in addition to those mentioned above, to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and treat those afflicted.

Domestic and international schedule reductions

By The Hub team, April 07, 2020

While travel demand and government restrictions continue to impact our schedule, we know some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home. We continue to operate dozens of repatriation flights in an effort to get customers where they need to be. This remains a fluid situation, but United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times. Learn more about what we're doing to keep customers and employees safe.

Flights continuing from now into May:

Atlantic

Operating:

  • New York/Newark – Frankfurt (Flights 960/961)
  • New York/Newark – London (Flights 16/17)
  • New York/Newark – Tel Aviv (Flights 90/91)

Pacific

Operating:

  • San Francisco – Tokyo-Narita (Flights 837/838)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (Flights 863/870
  • Select Guam routes, including daily Guam – Honolulu (Flights 200/201)

Latin America/South America

Operating:
  • Houston – Sao Paulo (1x daily)
  • Houston – Cancun (3x daily)
  • Houston – Mexico City and Monterrey (2x daily)
  • Houston – Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos (1x daily)
Suspended:
  • All other hub flying to Mexico is canceled.

Caribbean

We are suspending all remaining Caribbean service: NAS (Nassau, Bahamas) through May 3, SJU (San Juan) and STT (St. Thomas) April 7 – May 3 (at the earliest).

Canada

  • All flying to Canada is suspended.

To help with the uncertainty around future travel — be it summer vacations, conferences, events and more — customers now have until April 30 to make changes to, or cancel, any travel they have booked through the end of the year without fees. This is in addition to existing waivers already in place which allow customers to change or cancel plans for travel through May 31.

Please visit united.com for more information, or reference our step-by-step guide on how to change your flight, cancel and rebook later.

Domestic schedule

We have taken every opportunity to continue offering service to as many airports as possible through other United hubs as we have reduced our domestic flying. Effective April 8, we will suspend service between the mainland and Hilo, Maui, Kona and Lihue - and we will maintain our daily service between our San Francisco hub and Honolulu, which has been reduced to one flight daily. We will continue to operate daily service between Honolulu and Guam. These suspensions will run through April 22.

We are closely monitoring demand as well as changes in state and local curfews and government restrictions across the U.S. and will adjust our schedule accordingly.

Hub city Route suspensions Remaining service
Chicago Albuquerque, NM
Asheville, NC
Bismarck/Mandan, ND
Bozeman, MT
Eugene, OR
Fresno, CA
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Jackson, MS
Kahului, HI
Kearney, NE
Palm Springs, CA
Panama City, FL
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
Spokane, WA
Valparaiso, FL
Wilmington, NC
DEN, IAH
IAD
DEN
DEN
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
IAD
SFO
IAH
Market Suspension
DEN
DEN, SFO
IAH
DEN, SFO
DEN
DEN
IAH
IAD
New York/Newark Appleton, WI
Arcata/Eureka, CA
Charleston, SC
Grand Rapids, MI
Hartford, CT
Hobbs, NM
Honolulu, HI
Jacksonville, FL
Kahului, HI
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
New York, NY (LaGuardia)
Santa Rosa, CA
Shreveport, LA
Syracuse, NY
ORD
SFO
IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
IAD, ORD
IAH
SFO
IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
ORD
SFO
IAH
IAD, ORD
Houston Akron/Canton, OH
Boise, ID
Grand Rapids, MI
Hartford, CT
Honolulu, HI
Lexington, KY
New York, NY (LaGuardia)
Norfolk, VA
Ontario, CA
Palm Springs, CA
Reno, NV
Richmond, VA
San Jose, CA
St Louis, MO
ORD
DEN, ORD, SFO
ORD
IAD, ORD
SFO
IAD, ORD
ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, ORD
Los Angeles Arcata/Eureka, CA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, DC
Bend/Redmond, OR
Boise, ID
Boston, MA
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Colorado Springs, CO
Eugene, OR
Fresno, CA
Hilo, HI
Honolulu, HI
Kahului, HI
Kona, HI
Las Vegas, NV
Lihue, HI
Madison, WI
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Medford, OR
Monterey, CA
Orlando, FL
Palm Springs, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Redding, CA
Reno, NV
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Luis Obispo, CA
Santa Barbara, CA
Seattle, WA
St George, UT
Stockton, CA
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
Market Suspension
SFO
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN
SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN
Market Suspension
New York/Newark Akron/Canton, OH
Albany, NY
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Bangor, ME
Boston, MA
Buffalo, NY
Burlington, VT
Charleston, SC
Charlotte, NC
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Detroit, MI
Fayetteville, AR
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fort Myers, FL
Grand Rapids, MI
Greensboro, NC
Greenville, SC
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Indianapolis, IN
Jacksonville, FL
Kansas City, MO
Key West, FL
Knoxville, TN
Las Vegas, NV
Louisville, KY
Madison, WI
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis, MN
Myrtle Beach, SC
Nashville, TN
New Orleans, LA
Norfolk, VA
Omaha, NE
Orange County, CA
Orlando, FL
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Portland, ME
Portland, OR
Presque Isle, ME
Providence, RI
Raleigh/Durham, NC
Richmond, VA
Rochester, NY
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
Sarasota, FL
Savannah, GA
Seattle, WA
St Louis, MO
Syracuse, NY
Tampa, FL
Washington, DC (Reagan National)
West Palm Beach, FL
ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
IAD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD
SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, IAH, ORD
San Francisco Albuquerque, NM
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, DC
Boston, MA
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Detroit, MI
Fayetteville, AR
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Indianapolis, IN
Kahului, HI
Kansas City, MO
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Madison, WI
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Minneapolis, MN
Nashville, TN
New Orleans, LA
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Raleigh/Durham, NC
San Antonio, TX
Spokane, WA
St Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
DEN, IAH
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Washington-Dulles Austin, TX
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
New York, NY (LaGuardia)
Portland, OR
Sacramento, CA
DEN, IAH, ORD
ORD
SFO
ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team, April 07, 2020

When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.

We have operated more than 85 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 12,000 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.

Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.

Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Roatan, Honduras
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Melbourne, Australia

We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.

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