Wanderlust experience in Scotland
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 SFO Maintenance Planning Analyst Hannah Rebosura
I've often come across the travel quote in the internet that says, "It is better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times." And for the past 10 years or so, I have traveled the world, with 25 countries checked off my bucket list, yet Scotland still remained the elusive one. However, last October I had the wonderful privilege of flying off to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Pronounced, "Eiden-brah," Edinburgh is known as "Athens of the North," as well as Scotland's capital, of course. It's Old and New Towns were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and in 2009 it was voted the most desirable place to live in the U.K. Also known as the Aud Reekie, in Scottish Gaelic, Edinburgh is combined with both ancient and modern unique Scottish atmosphere. Its medieval palaces rub elbows with the modern architecture. Its gothic churches are as ancient and magnificent as the Edinburgh Castle itself.
Strolling down the elegant Royal Mile in the Old Town is definitely a must. It boasts the highest number of traditional souvenir shops. There you will find the "made in Scotland" garments from the popular cashmere and lamb's wool scarves to the traditional, yet very famous Scottish wear: the kilt. They come in every tartan pattern known, but they aren't cheap either.
The Royal Mile is book-ended by the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of the Holyrood House. The Holyrood House is the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II. Edinburgh is also home to several interesting museums and historical sites which include St. Giles' Cathedral, the place of worship of the Church of Scotland and it is also known as the "Mother Church of Presbyterianism." The cathedral is also dedicated to the city's patron St. Giles and the building right next to it is the Scottish Parliament. The Royal Mile's old cobbled-stone roads and the ever-iconic red telephone booth make the best scenic backdrop for every picture you take.
Then of course there is the Scotch Whisky Experience for all the whisky lovers and enthusiasts. For those of you that are unaware, Scotland is the biggest exporter of whisky. All the best Scotch Whisky comes from Scotland. The Scotch Whisky Experience offers whisky-making tours and tastings. The tasting was a lot of fun and I learned that the older the whisky, the stronger it is and the better it tastes, especially on a cold and gloomy day. It makes your day far more delightful and warm too.
Then we were off to the castle, Edinburgh Castle, that is. The Castle is better known as the symbol of the city and home to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an annual event featuring music, dance and more. The royal fortress is situated in one of the highest points of the city, and has been continuously in use for the past one thousand years but still remains in excellent condition. The castle is also home to the Mons Meg Cannon, an enormous medieval super gun, or cannon, that was built in 1449. The cannon fires huge, solid stone cannonballs, three times the size of a human head. Each cannonball weighs about 400 pounds and can shoot as far as two miles. Every day at 1:00 p.m. there is a ritual called the "One O'Clock Gun," or the firing of the cannon from the castle. The Scottish tradition began in 1861, when the firing was a signal for ships that sailed in and out.
The name "cannon," or "canon," is very common throughout Edinburgh. It somehow has a significant meaning. Beyond the crossroads, the Royal Mile continues down the Canongate, literally meaning, "Cannon's/Canon's Way." It was used in former times by the Augustinian Canons of Holyrood Abbey. The name or the word "cannon," is not just a weapon of destruction, but it is also a religious order in the Catholic and Anglican Church, and of course the Church of Scotland. From the award-winning Cannonball Restaurant and Bar, to the Canongate, all the way to the Canonmills and finally to the Old Cannon Kirk (Church) and Cross, the word "cannon," surrounds this marvelous Scottish city. Canongate was once described as, "the main avenue from the palace to the city, it has been born upon its pavements the burden of all that was beautiful, all that was gallant, all that has historically interesting in Scotland for the last six or seven hundred years."
Throughout my one-week stay in Edinburgh, I was able to go up to the Scottish Highlands in Loch Ness (famous for its mythical Loch Ness Monster) and Inverness. The Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of the crypto-zoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as "Nessie." The monster is an equivalent to our "Big Foot," or "Sasquatch." The "Nessie" was first sighted by an American couple on the road in 1933 where it approached their car and eventually ran away but it has been a mystical character in stories for hundreds of years. Eventually, Loch Ness became a tourist attraction in all of Scotland. The Urquhart Castle is also situated in Loch Ness. It is one of the oldest castles in Scotland, and definitely one with the most spectacular views of the Highlands and the lake.
Being surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Highlands in Inverness, felt so surreal. I felt like I was in a scene of "The Game of Thrones," and as a matter of fact, the show shot several scenes from their "Winterfell" episode in Season One in the Highlands. Even though it was cold and damp, the Scottish Highlands was one of the most beautiful places I've seen in my life, and that was a great check off my bucket list.
"Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show" is one of my most favorite travel quotes. Scotland truly has so much to offer. From getting lost in the Scottish Highlands, to my search for the Loch Ness Monster in Loch Ness, and falling in love with the Canongate, or Cannon's Way, while enjoying the sounds of the original bagpipe music, to striking a pose at the iconic Red Telephone Booth at the Royal Mile, and finally the Edinburgh Castle -- Scotland, you truly are one of a kind and most definitely brought out the wanderlust in me.
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
- 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.
Throughout these unprecedented times, we remain committed to doing what is right and fair for all of our MileagePlus® members and are pleased to share the steps we are taking to reciprocate the trust and loyalty that you have placed in United. These steps include not only Premier status updates, but also an extension of current memberships and subscriptions. The updates will happen automatically over the next few weeks — there's nothing you need to do.
The big news: If you have current 2020 Premier status, it will be extended to January 31, 2022. At a minimum, you will enjoy the same published status next year that you have today, up to and including Premier 1K®.
For the 2021 status year, United is reducing thresholds for Premier qualification by 50% for each status level, to make reaching an even higher tier easier. You'll still need a minimum of four flight segments on United or United Express®.
Earn Premier qualifying flights
… or meet a higher PQP goal
We're also doubling PQP for United Explorer cards and quadrupling PQP for the United Club cards.
At the same time that we're decreasing the published program's PQP requirements, via a promotion from May 1 – December 31, 2020, we're doubling (for United Explorer cards) or quadrupling (for United Club cards) the maximum number of PQP that Cardmembers can earn from card spending during 2020 to help achieve a higher level of status than you already have. More details to come later.
1K® and Platinum members, we're increasing your ability to upgrade by extending PlusPoints expiration dates by six months and expanding Skip Waitlist.
- This means a six-month extension of any PlusPoints set to expire on or before January 31, 2021.
- Last year we introduced Skip Waitlist on select flights as a benefit to 1K members, giving you more opportunities to confirm an upgrade request at the time of booking. This benefit will now be available for the rest of 2020 in a significantly expanded selection of long-haul international regions and will have expanded availability in 2021 as well.
We're extending all annual membership and subscription benefits by six months.
- We want to make sure your benefits are still there when you're ready to start flying again. That's why we're extending purchased United Club℠ memberships purchased directly from United and purchased subscriptions for Economy Plus®, United Wi-Fi℠ and checked bags by six months. You should see this reflected in your MileagePlus account soon.
All electronic travel certificates now have 24 months to be used.
- If your travel plans have been disrupted, and you have an electronic travel certificate from us for the value of your ticket, you now have two years from the date it was issued to book a new flight, as well as up to an additional 11 months to travel. This includes all currently valid and all new electronic travel certificates issued on or after April 1, 2020.
We have removed some redeposit fees for the rest of the year.
- We are currently waiving all award redeposit fees for travel through end of May 2020.
- We are now also waiving all redeposit fees for award ticket cancellations made more than 30 days before departure for the remainder of 2020.
Finally, we'll be making it easier to earn status in 2021 for the 2022 program year. We recognize that getting back to travel will occur at a different pace for different members. Keep an eye out for changes we will make to help you earn status in 2021 for 2022, as we'll share details later this year.
Over the years, you have placed your trust and loyalty in United, and we are honored to do the same for you. We are all in this together.
Status extension to January 31, 2022, applies to all members that met the published criteria of the MileagePlus program in 2019, status match associated with the United/Marriott Bonvoy partnership and status offered as part of a Sales nomination. Status granted from other programs and policies may not apply.
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.If you decide to cancel your flight, you can retain the value of your ticket to be applied to a new ticket without a fee. These electronic travel certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020. You might not see this policy change reflected everywhere right away – we appreciate your patience as we work to make that happen.
Eligible travelers on domestic flights and international tickets can request a refund on united.com or may call our contact centers if their flights have been severely adjusted or service to their destination suspended either due to government mandates or United schedule reductions related to COVID-19.
Certain tickets cannot be changed on united.com or the mobile app, including tickets booked through another airline (if the ticket receipt does not begin with 016). Please contact the original ticketing airline for changes.
Follow the steps below to stay up to date, change or cancel your flight.
Change your current flight:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
- Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
- Date of travel or destination
- Add a flight
- Remove a flight
- Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
- Continue through booking to confirm your new flight
Note: The change fee will display as waived, but any difference in fare may apply.
Cancel your flight and rebook later:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
- Select "Cancel flight"
- Confirm flight cancellation
- If you have future flight credit, when you return to the reservation, select "Use Future Flight Credit" to shop for new flights and apply the credit towards a new flight.
Canceling or changing an award flight:
When you select "Cancel flight," you will have the option to cancel your award reservation and redeposit the miles or to cancel your award reservation and use those miles for another trip in the future.
*We're currently experiencing heavy traffic to united.com. If you experience an error while trying to change or cancel your flight, please try again later.
Click through the slideshow below for more detailed instructions:
Start on the United homepage:
User can select 'My Trips' on the homepage widget to find and retrieve their reservation.
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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.