Winter Festival in the Ice City of Harbin - United Hub
Employee Travel Blog

Winter festival in the city of Harbin

By The Hub team, January 20, 2017

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 San Francisco based Airport Operations Station Support Senior Coordinator, Maridol Olarte

Winter is often considered cold, gloomy and miserable. I didn't realize the true definition of cold until our recent trip to Harbin, China. Misery, however, was far from what I felt. Harbin is known for its bitterly cold winters. It is called the "Ice City" for its well-known Ice Sculpture Festival during the winter season. A festival that is claimed to be the largest of its kind in the world and the reason why we ventured to Harbin during the cold winter months.

Winter ice sculptures in Harbin, China

Starting our trip from San Francisco we traveled to Beijing and once there we joined a locally organized all-inclusive private tour to the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival with co-workers and our families. Well prepared for subzero temperatures, our suitcases were full of bulky winter outfits. On our first day we started with three layers of winter clothing plus our winter coats, double layers of head covers and thick wool socks. The temperature that day was around 10 degrees. The next day it was negative 8 degrees so we added another layer of clothing, a neck warmer plus a jacket and an extra coat as well. On our third day it was even more cold with temps at negative 17 degrees so we added another thermal and a face mask. As you can imagine, we felt like we were dragging our bodies under this weight. To make matters worse, our cell phones froze and lost power in the cold very often. We had to use hand and foot warmers while holding them, as well as recharge them often. Going indoor to defrost every hour or so was a must. I know you're wondering… Is it worth going to this place with such drastic temperatures? The answer is: absolutely yes.

Colorfully lit ice sculptures at night in Harbin, China

We started our first morning with a visit at the center of Stalin Park where stands the Flood Control Monument, built to commemorate the tremendous feat of the Harbin people in controlling the massive flood of 1957. On our way to the park, you can see giant snow sculptures all over the city, which are made from giant blocks of ice from the frozen Songhua river. Afterward, we continued on to Central Street, which is lined with stores and restaurants. Intrigued by locals eating ice cream on this bitter cold winter day, we decided to try it too and it was delicious. We then proceeded to the Ice Lantern Show in Zhaolin Park. The magical and extraordinary ice lanterns and sculptures have literally made the park an icy wonderland with colorful humongous ice sculptures.

Ice sloping, a cold-weather winter activity in Harbin

Can you imagine swimming in freezing cold water? We watched a winter swimming performance on Songhua River and took part in some activities such as ice sloping and ice tubing. Taking a cable car ride across the river with the sight of the frozen water beneath you is a sight to behold. At the Ice and Snow Festival, there are many awesome ice and snow sculptures created by artists from all around the world. The freezing cold penetrates the bones, especially when you stay outside for longer periods of time, but the sight of the beautiful and impressive sculptures was so enjoyable we forgot about the cold.

An ice sculpture in the city of Harbin, China

This festival spreads across much of the city. You can see massive snow sculptures at Sun Island as well — located on the northern side of Songhua River and in downtown Harbin City. Sun Island is the only floodplain wetland ecology in a city center in China. The island is the pride of the locals and the pursuit of visitors. Each year, Sun Island becomes a paradise for the ice and snow festival sculptures art show. The island also has a zoo for Siberian tigers and provides a bus tour, allowing us to get close to the tigers. It was quite the adventure. Lastly, we visited Polarland, a theme park combining animal shows, polar land sights and interactive activities into one. Polarland is also located on Sun Island. This trip was a travel experience like no other on earth. The subzero temperatures didn't stop us from enjoying all of what the city has to offer. It was truly a trip of a lifetime.

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.

Scroll to top