United Airlines

Travel Tidbits for air travelers

 Brazilian restaurant for Miami International Airport

A popular chain restaurant from Brazil – Viena – has opened on the top (seventh) floor of the pre-security MIA Hotel at Miami International Airport.

The restaurant, which replaces the “Top of the Port” restaurant that was in that spot for many years, has a menu featuring Brazilian and European dishes, including salt cod fritters (Bolinho de Bacalau), Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail.

In addition to great views, this new restaurant has free Wi-Fi, happy hour, large-screen TVS and electronic charging stations.

Foodie Week at Philadelphia International Airport

 March 12-18 is Foodie Week at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) with seven restaurants in Concourse B offering special entrees at a discount – $12 – throughout the week

  • Baba Bar: Harissa Chicken Sandwich
  • Boule Café: French Onion Grilled Cheese
  • Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar: Shrimp Calabrese
  • Germantown Biergarten: Cheddar Brat Platter
  • Love Grille: Cheesesteak Hoagie
  • Mezzogiorno: Short Rib and Tomato Pizza
  • Noobar: Spicy Chicken Fried Rice

United Airlines passengers can buy a place in line

United Airlines now allows standard economy passengers to purchase Priority Boarding, allowing them to board in group 2.

The cost is $9 per segment and, according to United, the number of passes sold will be “closely controlled based on flight, date, time of day and day-of-week restrictions.”

For those who already have TSA Precheck and really want to move up in the boarding process, this is a less expensive add-on than Premier Access, which offers priority boarding benefits along with other benefit such as access to premier check-in lines and security lanes. Prices for this add-on start at $15 per segment.

Keep in mind: the new Priority Pass option, like Premier Access, is non-refundable and is not available to you if you’ve purchased a Basic Economy ticket.

SXSW bring extra music to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport  

The SXSW mash-up of conferences and festivals is underway in Austin and the airport in the Live Music Capital of the World is doing its part to make sure everyone gets their fill of music.

In addition to the usual 21 live music events it offers each week, Austin Bergstrom International Airport is adding six extra performances during peak SXSW travel days – March 12, 13 and 19.

Of the extra performances, bands will play at the airport’s Asleep at the Wheel State at Ray Benson’s Roadhouse near Gate 10, while extra solo acts will perform at Annie’s and Waterloo. See the full schedule here.

Post Office plus at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports

The Parisian postal service – La Poste – has opened enhanced post offices at both Paris-Orly and Paris-Charles de Gaulle airports, In addition to 24-hour postal machines, these post offices will have gift shops, terminals where customers can make photo postcards, rentable work spaces, and other services, including a key drop.

Your face is your boarding pass

Passengers flying with British Airways from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick can now opt to use their face as their boarding pass, thanks to SITA’s biometric boarding technology, which scans a person’s face and matches it up with the data U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has on that passenger in their files.

The process is already being used with certain JetBlue flights at Boston Logan International Airport and British Airways flights at Los Angeles International Airport.

Going biometric isn’t a requirement to board the flights testing the new technology, but last year’s SITA’s passenger IT survey showed that 57% of passengers would use biometrics instead of a boarding pass. SITA reports that real world rates are even higher than that: nearly 100% of passengers are opting to use the biometric boarding during the trials.

United Airlines serving up Olympic super heroes & snacks

United Airlines is super excited about the Winter Olympics and, as the official airline of Team USA, is going all out with stateside celebrations.

On Friday, Feb 9, the airline will be giving out super hero action figures of a half dozen Olympic athletes at seven hub airports: Houston (IAH), Dulles, DEN, LAX, SFO, Newark and O’Hare. Details here.

United will also be serving up Olympics-inspired food and beverage at more than 50 club locations through February 24.

On Friday, February 9,  they’ll be serving a Perfect 10 cocktail made with prosecco and cranberry juice, garnished with blueberries and cranberries and a Super Sundae, made with vanilla ice cream,  strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.

Through February 24, foods served will include a fruit bar with blueberries, pineapple, blackberries, honeydew and strawberries and a mix-and-match candy bar.

And in addition to specialty cocktails ($5 each) such as the The Rings (Vodka, triple sec, white cranberry juice and simple syrup garnished with lifesavers), on February 24 the menu will include a red, white and blue parfait, made with vanilla yogurt, fresh strawberries, blueberries and a sprinkle of granola.

 

How to get one of United’s Olympic athlete superhero action figures

Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen as United Airlines superhero action figure King Quad. Courtesy United

United Airlines is so excited about being the official airline of the United States Olympic Committee that it has made superhero action figures of six athletes competing in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and another half dozen action figures of United employees who do the magic on the planes and behind the scenes to fly the athletes to the games.

The athletes portrayed as action figures are:

Air Raider: freeskier Gus Kenworth

Artic Angel: snowboarder Jamie Anderson

Ice Lightning: short track speed track skater J.R. Celski

The Rocket: luger Erin Hamlin

King Quad: figure skater Nathan Chen

The Fury: sled hockey player, Nikko Landerson

(“Ice  Lightening” and “Winged Wonder” action figures)

There are also six superhero action figures portraying United employees, including one named Storm Tamer, representing an airline operations expert and my favorite, Departicus, who represents a customer service agent.

Want an action figure of your own?

In celebration of the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, United is giving out athlete action figures to customers at its hubs on Friday.

Look for the life-sized mannequins of the sponsored Team USA athletes at these spots. At each airport, the airline will be giving out the 100 action figure corrosponding to the life-size mannequin on site.

Houston (IAH): North Terminal, past gate C3

Dulles (IAD):  IAD: Intersection in C Concourse, en route to the trains

Denver (DEN): Concourse B, central plaza

Los Angeles ( LAX): Second level, Terminal 7 just above security

San Francisco (SFO) Rotunda near the food court

Newark (EWR) C3 Concourse

Chicago (ORD): Gate B12

At each airport, the airline will be giving out the action figure corrosponding to the life-size mannequin on site.

The airline has also been giving out action to figures to travelers at Penn Station in New York City who take a photo by the Team USA wall and then share the photo on social media (#TeamUnited).

 

 

 

 

Snaps from Boeing’s farewell flight for the Boeing 747

Courtesy United

United Airlines officially said farewell to its Boeing 747 airplanes on Tuesday with a special charter flight from San Francisco to Honolulu.

I got to ride along and will be putting together a formal report for the Runway Girl Network, but in the meantime, here are some snaps from the gate-side party, the flight and the arrival in Honolulu.

Those out-of-time outfits you’ll see? Everyone was encouraged to dress in outfits from the 1970s, to evoke the time when the iconic humped plane was introduced.

Tom Stuker, who has flown 18 million miles on United wih United CEO Oscar Munoz, who scanned passenger tickets for the flight.

 

Mai Tai cocktails for everyone on the flight.

 

And for dessert – “Volcano” ice-cream sundaes, with dry-ice.

 

On arrival in Honolulu, the plane received a 120-foot-long lei –
made out of trash bags by United employees.

And another cake!

That 18 hour United flight between LAX and Singapore

With the launch of new non-stop service between Los Angeles and Singapore, United Airlines set a new distance record among U.S. airlines flying to or from the United States.

Thanks – or rather, due – to headwinds facing westbound aircraft, the published length of the 8,700-mile trip from Los Angeles International Airport to Singapore’s Changi Airport clocks in at whopping 17 hours and 55 minutes, with the return/eastbound trip scheduled to take ‘just’ 15 hours and 15 minutes.

While still long, for many travelers this flight significantly shortens the journey to the Lion City. Until now, passengers had to make a stop somewhere along the way.

“This flight shaves hours off that journey,” said Patrick Quayle, Vice-President of International Network for United Airlines.

The new LAX to SIN flight (UA37) is scheduled to leave Los Angeles daily at 8:55 p.m. and arrive in Singapore at 6:50 a.m. two days later, local Singapore time. The return flight (UA 38) leaves Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport daily at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 10:15 a.m. the same day, local time.

United also serves Singapore with a daily non-stop flight from San Francisco, which at 8,466 miles is now the second longest scheduled flight operated by a carrier from the United States.

In addition to being the longest flight from the United States to anywhere in the world, the new United Airlinesnow holds the record for both the longest (LA – SIN; 8,700 miles) and second-longest flights (SFO – SIN; 8,466 miles) on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. That record is destined to fall in March, 2018 when Sydney, Australia-based Qantas begins flying a 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft between Perth and London, a distance of about 9009 miles.

While these will be the longest flights on Boeing 787-9 aircraft, they won’t be the world’s longest flight. That record is currently held by Qatar Airways, which flies between Doha and Auckland, a distance of 9,032 miles.

Courtesy UNITED

Shortening the flight time between Los Angeles and Singapore is not only appealing for leisure travelers heading to Asia, it gives Southern California an economic edge.

“Over 71 Singaporean companies have operations in the six counties of Southern California,” said Stephen Cheung, President of the World Trade Center, Los Angeles, “They create over 3,300 jobs for the local region and together contribute over 200 million in annual wages. So this new direct flight increases the opportunity for Singaporeans to invest in Los Angeles.”

If you’re going to be on a plane for 18 hours – or any long stretch of time – comfortable seating, upgraded amenities and the aircraft can make a difference in how you feel on arrival.

United’s 8,700-mile non-stop flight is serviced by a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner with 252 seats: 48 in Polaris business class, laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration; 88 premium economy seats and 116 economy seats, in a 3-3-3 layout.

While the 787-9 United used on this route doesn’t have its newest Polaris business class seats (and won’t be retrofitted with them for several years), the business class section does have lie-flat seats and benefits from the airline’s Polaris service, which includes Saks Fifth Avenue-branded bedding and fleece-lined slippers.

The aircraft itself offers benefits to long-haul fliers. The composite carbon fiber material (as opposed to aluminum) used to make the aircraft means the cabin pressure and humidity can be higher than on other airplanes. That makes passengers feel as if they are flying at a lower altitude than on a standard flight and can helps cut down on the fatigue, dryness, and jet lag travelers usually experience.

United Airlines is about to retire its entire fleet of 747 aircraft, known as the “Queen of the Skies,” and through January 2018 is giving passengers flying in Polaris premium cabins a collectible 747-themed amenity kit.

In addition to amenity-kit basics such as a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, tiny tissue pack, ear plugs, lip balm and hand lotion, this kit contains some commemorative items, including 747-themed socks, a 747-themed padded eye-mask and a pack of five 747-themed trading cards. There are 15 commemorative 747 cards in the full set, giving passengers on the 18 hour LAX to Singapore flight, and others, an excuse to strike up a conservation and swap cards along with road warrior stories.

     

Eating and snacking are important on a long haul flight. United’s Polaris passengers on the Los Angeles to Singapore flights can plan on having a four course dinner, with ice-cream sundaes and Asian sweets for dessert, breakfast before arrival and a choice of serve-yourself snacks, including Ramen noodles, sandwiches, fruit and candy during the flight.

Singapore Airlines, which – like United – flies direct between San Francisco and Singapore, plans to re-introduce direct flights between Los Angeles and Singapore soon. For now, though, United Airlines is the only carrier offering direct flights between LAX and SIN.

Last week, after dipping to as low as $177 for a short time, roundtrip economy fares for United’s non-stop flights between Los and Singapore were as low as $600 (including taxes) for some early December flights.

(My story about United Airlines’ new 18-hour flight between Los Angeles and Singapore first appeared in a slightly different version on CNBC).