Customer reunites with his United heroes
At the end of her automated external defibrillator (AED) training, Melanie Molek, a customer service representative at Washington Dulles International Airport, asked instructor Bill Huston how often he'd needed to use these skills in the 40 years he's been certified.
"Never," replied Bill, who is a lead customer service representative at the airport.
Melanie assumed she never would, either.
The next day, customer Jim Bowles' plan was to connect to Orlando, Florida through Washington-Dulles, but the flight was canceled due to weather. Unsure of how far he'd have to walk to find assistance with rebooking, the 51-year-old man, who'd felt fatigued the night before, grabbed the luggage cart at the end of the jetbridge and put his bag on it.
Not since Harry Potter arrived at Platform 9 ¾ has a cart proven so magical.
"I was at C9 finishing work on a flight to Tampa, Florida, when a coworker asked me if I'd heard a noise," Melanie recalled. "I hadn't, but she said a man with a cart had fallen over by C11 not far from Chef Geoff's. She finished boarding the flight and I went to check out the situation."
Mr. Bowles had suffered a heart attack.
Richard Horil, the general manager of Chef Geoff's, a police officer and Melanie were the first to tend to Mr. Bowles. While Mr. Horil and the officer started CPR, Melanie sprinted to C20 to grab the AED. Since she'd finished training the day before, she was well aware of where she could find one.
"Without the cart falling," Melanie said, "we wouldn't have heard him and who knows how much longer it would've taken to get there?"
When Chris Woods, a supervisor at Washington-Dulles, got the call that a customer had suffered a heart attack, he instantly thought to find out if Customer Service Representative Ali Mahboubi was at work.
In his free time, Ali is a volunteer medic with a local fire department. Luckily, he was at work that morning and rushed to C11 after getting a call from Chris.
"When I saw Ali coming, I felt so relieved," Melanie said. "I thought to myself that this guy is going to make it."
Nine minutes after Mr. Bowles suffered the heart attack, paramedics arrived. He was airlifted to Reston Hospital and eventually transferred to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where his outlook swayed between hopeful and grim for about two weeks.
But Melanie's feeling was right – Mr. Bowles made it through.
If Washington-Dulles Customer Service Representative Abeer Husary hadn't suggested CPR training be made available, if Bill wasn't able to administer classes, and if Melanie hadn't decided, on a whim, to drive 90 minutes to the airport on her day off to take the class, Mr. Bowles might not be alive today. The same serendipity prevailed. He happened to pick up the cart, Ali was at work that day, and Inova Fairfax Hospital is one of America's best heart hospitals. The list of things Mr. Bowles needed to go right – that did go right – went on and on.
Last week, Mr. Bowles, well on his way to recovery, along with his wife, his sister and his two teenage daughters, drove from their New Jersey home and reunited with Melanie, Ali and Mr. Horil at the airport.
The group spent a few hours recollecting that day and the uncertainty that followed and getting to know each other's life stories. There were hugs, tears and laughs, but above all, there was gratefulness for how everyone reacted that February morning, for the moments they were sharing together and all of the moments Mr. Bowles and his family would still be able to have together in the future.
"I've cried so much thinking about this," Mr. Bowles said as the group stood at C11, exactly where he'd suffered the heart attack. "You don't get too many second chances in life, but these guys helped make sure I got one. It's surreal to be back here and meet with my heroes."
As they walked away from C11, before the Bowles family was off to the older daughter's college lacrosse game and college visits with their younger daughter, Mr. Bowles had one last message for Ali, Melanie and Mr. Horil: "It's so great to have you all in my life," he said, "and to have my life because of you guys."
We know people are taking a second look at their travel plans right now. If you're scheduled to travel March 10 – May 31, 2020 and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. This is in addition to our previous waiver, which waives all change fees – domestic and international – for tickets purchased March 3 – April 30, 2020. This is available for any of United's published nonrefundable fares. 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.
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 68 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 9,200 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.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom, a video conferencing tool that many people are using to stay connected.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.