United Airlines

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).

 

Snaps from World’s Longest Flight from the US

On Friday evening, United Airlines launched what is (for now) the World’s Longest Flight from the U.S.: an 8, 7000 flight between Los Angeles and Singapore.

Scheduled to take 17 hours and 55 minutes, the flight actually arrived more than an hour early.

I’ll be doing a few reported stories on the flight – and how to survive such a long airplane journey – but for now here are a few snaps from the pre-flight festivities.

Flight crew lines up for a group picture before United flight 37 takes off.

 

Plenty of props on hand to help celebrate the inaugural.

Business class seats stocked with Polaris bedding.

More pictures to come. Along with an hour by hour report on my (rough) journey. Thanks, United, the for the ride to Singapore.

 

Getting ready for the World’s Longest Flight

I travel to Los Angeles today so that I can join United Airlines for the launch of their LAX to Singapore flight tonight.  At 17 hours 55 minutes, this will grab the title as longest flight from the U.S.

I’ll be one of the lucky ducks flying in the cabin of a 787 offering United’s swank Polaris service and surroundings but, still, that’s an awfully long time to spend on a plane.

So I’ve been putting together a list of activities and projects to make sure I stay occupied, entertained and productive.

Here’s what I have so far:

Watch some movies.
Learn some Italian (Next month: trip to Florence!)
Hem pants
Get to inbox zero
Have (only) one drink
Check out the menu, but don’t eat too much.
Charge Fitbit. Get my 11001 steps.
Interview at least 4 other passengers about how they are staying occupied.
Finish two or three assignements due next week
Start that will.
Outline my next book.
Finish reading that book about King Leopold.
Sleep some. Or a lot.

What else should I add?

Of course, I said yes to flying to Singapore because what many believe is the World’s Greatest Airport is there. Singapore Changi, with multiple gardens, free movie theaters, a giant slide, cool art, over-the-top floral installations, shops galore and much, much more, is a destination unto itself and while I’m in town a brand new terminal opens.  Joy!