Weekend Inspiration: Bangkok - United Hub
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Weekend inspiration: Bangkok

By Kelsey + Courtney Montague

Bangkok is a city steeped in mystery to many, especially to people from the West. Its name alone is fascinating. The word "bang" in Thai means "village on a stream." "Ko" means "island." People believe its name is an ode to the key rivers that work their way through and around the city. We recently spent some time in Bangkok, so if you're there for a few days, be sure to visit some of our favorite spots.

Friday evening

When you arrive we recommend grabbing drinks and dinner on Khao San Road. This is a back-packers paradise and the perfect place to grab a cheap and quick meal. Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu has incredible hot and sour shrimp soup. If you're looking for Western fare, stop by Mulligans for some fish and chips. The best place to get a drink and people watch is The One Bar — a little pricey but worth it.

Saturday

A trip to Bangkok would not be complete without a tuk-tuk ride. Ask your hotel's concierge to organize the tuk-tuk. Pro tip: make sure they negotiate the price with the driver before you leave the hotel.

The Grand Palace is a great place to go for your first stop in Bangkok. Try to get there early to avoid the lines. Flip-flops or open toed shoes aren't allowed within the palace, so be sure to wear closed-toe shoes. Also, try to make sure your shoulders and legs are covered. If you don't have a long skirt or pants, have no fear. They sell loose, comfy pants in ornate patterns at the entrance to the palace (they were so comfortable we honestly wore them the rest of the trip).

The Grand Palace is breathtaking and has been home to the Kings of Siam (later named Thailand) since 1782. Take your time as you stroll around the palace grounds and visit the many different buildings. Over 200 years of royally inspired craftsmanship grace every wall, hall and chandelier in the palace.

After exploring the Grand Palace, take a cab ride over to the Marble Palace — here you'll find a site less touristy, but just as beautiful. For an Instragram-worthy spot and a very different scene, check out the Unicorn Café. Everything in the café is unicorn inspired, even the food.

Saturday evening

We highly recommend heading to dinner at Thara Thong. This restaurant has fantastic food, it's in a beautiful location and there is a fun traditional Thai dance performance that starts after 6 p.m. Make sure to get reservations beforehand.

Sunday

Your trip to Bangkok wouldn't be complete without visiting a floating market. We suggest getting up early and visiting the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. Allow yourself to get lost in the sights and smells with the locals as they shop for their weekly groceries. Then, visit the Chatuchak weekend market (only open on the weekend) — which is the equivalent of Bangkok's Grand Bazaar. While there, try a Thai coconut and buy plenty of souvenirs for your friends and family at home.

After wandering around the markets, consider speaking to your hotel about getting a Thai massage. If you've never had a massage, be sure to let your masseur know, but simply put a Thai massage is similar to a deep tissue massage here in the U.S.

Sunday evening

With a population of over 8.2 million people, it's difficult to understand how huge Bangkok is until you set foot on one of the many stunning rooftop bars or restaurants in the city. We love The Surawongse at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel. The views on this rooftop were only surpassed by the kindness of the staff and the quality of the cocktails.

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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.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

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