A family tree at LAX gives way to many United branches - United Hub
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A family tree at LAX with many United branches

By Pete Rapalus, June 14, 2017

When Scott Calkins was a rookie ground service equipment (GSE) maintenance technician at Los Angeles International Airport in 1987, he carpooled with his father Jim, who at the time was a lead technician and had followed his own father, Fredrick, a longtime communications supervisor to work for United. Now, that three-generation United family has added a fourth. When Scott leaves his Santa Clarita home for work every day, his carpool companion is none other than his son Tristin, the newest technician in the shop where Scott now holds the lead position held by his father Jim who retired in 1998 after more than 37 years of service.

Tristin (left) and Scott Calkins (right) pictured above

Tristin joined the team last year in December, so the Calkins can now celebrate Father's Day with four generations of United employees. Tristin says he's already planning to encourage his two sons to pursue maintenance careers at United in Los Angeles.

"We have a history in this family of the men following in each other's footsteps," Scott said. "I know of quite a few multi-generational United families but don't know of any others with four generations in a row, and three in a row in the same shop, on the same shift no less."

When Jim retired he moved to Bishop, in the Owens Valley east of the Sierra Nevada range in California, and Tristin, then 1, and his family began regular visits that continue to this day. "It seemed like we were always fixing something or working on something or just going through grandpa's toolbox when I was growing up," Tristin said. "We also had to work on the boat on Friday if we wanted to go fishing on Saturday," Scott added.

Jim Calkins, father of Scott and grandfather to Tristin Jim Calkins pictured above

Tristin acquired his first automobile at 14, a 1968 Barracuda, and is now restoring a 1968 Ford Bronco (Scott's first car was his father's 1969 Bronco). In high school, Tristin and his best friend both dreamed of becoming police officers or a sheriff's deputy, but over time it became apparent to him that working on cars and other vehicles was his real gift. That passion led him to an automotive degree and eventually a job offer from United.

"Tristin is the only person I know of who went to college with a focus on becoming a GSE mechanic ," said Los Angeles International Airport and Region GSE Senior Manager James Keating, who also worked with Jim. "We have a lot to learn about Tristin, but I feel what we learn is going to be good!"

While working with a family member might create conflict in some families, that wasn't the case with the Calkins. "It helped in my case that I always had a great relationship with my father," Scott said. "Working for him was pretty simple — he expected me not to screw up and to be better and faster than everybody else," he laughs. For Tristin, "I think there is less pressure from the lead being my dad than there is from other people waiting around to see if the lead's son will make a lot of mistakes."

To minimize those opportunities, Scott teamed his son with veteran Technician Dave Legg on many projects, and all agree the relationship has been good for everyone. "Despite their age and experience differences, they're remarkably alike," Scott said. "They've got the same personality and approach to a problem, which is they want it to be done right and not halfway."

Fred Calkins pictured above was the first member of the family to work at United. Fredrick Calkins pictured above

In addition to Fredrick, Jim, Scott and Tristin, the Calkins family tree has even more United branches. Tristin's maternal grandparents, Scott's in-laws, Dave and Olga Shaw, also worked many decades for United at Los Angeles International Airport — Dave in building maintenance and Olga as a secretary and later a customer service representative. Tristin also has several uncles, great-uncles and other extended family members with United service, in Seattle and San Francisco.

In addition to the career bloodline, the men also share a long and proud history of community service. Fredrick volunteered with the Boy Scouts and other organizations, Jim was a reserve with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and, after retirement, served with the Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department. Scott spends much of his free time as a football coach at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, and Tristin has recently joined him on the sidelines coaching cornerbacks. Working the overnight shift seems to agree with them. Neither the 30-year-veteran nor the rookie has any intention of bidding into daytime work.

"I wouldn't be surprised if I end up on it as long as my dad has," Tristin said. Both Scott and Tristin said they enjoyed the planned maintenance work that tends to take place overnight compared to the hectic unpredictability of much day shift work.

"I think Tristin was seven or eight years old before he even realized that I had a job," Scott said. "After all, I was there when he went to sleep at night and there again all day after he woke up. To him it must have seemed like I was always home."

Obviously, the youngster eventually figured it out and then emulated what his dad was doing. "Working the midnight shift doesn't seem unusual to me," Tristin said. "Just like being handy with tools and enjoying troubleshooting and fixing things, it all works for me too."

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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Spotlighting our own during Hispanic Heritage Month

By The Hub team, October 13, 2020

We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 th through October 15th and take the time to recognize the important contributions of our colleagues of Hispanic descent in the United family.

This year, we hosted virtual events organized by our multicultural business resource group UNITE to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, covering topics ranging from immigration reform to Hispanic leadership. We're also taking a moment to highlight Latinx employees nominated by their peers for their contributions both at and outside of work.

These nominees have demonstrated leadership in their position and through their character. Take a moment to read their own words about how their background and heritage plays a role in the way they interact with customers, in how they support their colleagues and why it brings valuable perspective to their work.

Vania Wit – VP & Deputy Counsel

Photo of Vania Wit, VP & Deputy Counsel for United Airlines

"I am the Vice President and Deputy General Counsel in the legal department. I am an attorney and have worked in the legal department for over 21 years and am currently responsible for a number of different legal areas – such as litigation, international, commercial and government contracts, labor, employment and benefits, antitrust. I have the privilege of working with a tremendous team of attorneys who are directly leading and managing these areas. One of the things I like most about my job is simply getting to know the backgrounds and personal stories that everyone has about their paths to United or their passion for the industry. Being the daughter of immigrants from South America and growing up in a family who relies heavily on air travel to connect us to our close family and friends is an integral part of my story and what drew me to this industry and this company."

Kayra Martinez – International Flight Attendant, FRA

Photo of Kayra Martinez on board an aircraft

"I love that my work as a flight attendant brings me all over the world and allows me to connect with diverse people across the globe. Because of my Spanish heritage, I've been able to use my language as a way to connect with passengers, crew members and people from every nationality. In addition, my heritage gives me a very close connection to family, creating community and using inclusion as a way to bring people together. After transferring to Europe, I was able to study German, more Spanish, Italian and Arabic. Outside of work, I'm the director and founder of a nonprofit organization that empowers refugees through art. Hundreds of children and adults fleeing war-torn countries have found healing through my art workshops. These refugees are currently displaced in Greece. Their stunning paintings are then sold in art galleries and communities around the world, raising awareness and putting income directly into the hands of refugee artists."

Adriana Carmona – Program Manager, AO Regulatory Compliance

Photo of Adriana standing in front of a plane engine

"I've been incredibly lucky to have amazing leaders during my time at United who have challenged me from day one to think outside the box, step out of my comfort zone and trusted me to own and deliver on the tasks assigned. I think this sense of ownership is largely shaped by my Latino background, which values responsibility, respect and accountability and taking full charge of what's in your control to be able to deliver accordingly."

Harry Cabrera – Assistant Manager, AO Customer Service, IAH

Photo of Harry Cabrera

"My desire to help people is what drove me to start my career in Customer Service over two decades ago. Currently I provide support to our coworkers and customers at IAH , the gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. As a Colombian native celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, I'm proud to see the strength that my fellow Latinos forge every day at United Airlines. Family values are a cornerstone of the Latin community; I consider my coworkers to be part of my extended family. Mentor support throughout the years gave me the opportunity to grow professionally. The desire to do better and help others succeed is part of that heritage. I collaborate with our Latin American operations and create ways to improve performance. No matter what language you speak, the passion for what you do and being approachable makes the difference in any interaction."

Juciaria Meadows – Assistant Regional Manager, Cargo Sales

Photo of Juciaria Meadows in a Cargo hold

"During my 28-year career, I've worked across the system in various frontline and leadership roles in Reservations, Customer Service and Passenger Sales in Brazil. I moved to the U.S. in 2012 to work as an Account Executive for Cargo. It did not take too long for me to learn that boxes and containers have as much a voice as a passenger sitting in our aircraft. My job is to foster relationships with shippers, freight forwarders, cosignees, etc. and build strong partnerships in fair, trustworthy and caring ways where United Cargo will be their carrier of choice. That's where my background growing up in a Latino family plays an important role in my day-to-day interactions. I've done many wonderful sales trainings provided by United and my academic background , but none of them taught me more than watching my parents running their wholesale food warehouse. Developing exceptional relationships with their customers, they always treated them with trust and respect. They were successful business people with a big heart, creative, always adding a personal touch to their business relationships and I find myself doing the same. It's a lesson that is deep in my heart."

Shanell Arevalo – Customer Service Representative, DEN

Photo of Shanell Arevalo at work

"I am Belizean and Salvadoran. At a young age my family moved to California from Belize. Although I grew up in the United States , one thing my parents taught me was to never forget the culture, values and principles I was raised on. This includes showing love, compassion, and respect to all people. We learned to put our best foot forward for any situation and always put our heart and mind into everything we do. In my position as a customer service agent, it's the difference of showing the love, compassion and respect to our passengers to show that this is not just a job but rather a passion of genuinely caring for our people. Being Latina, we are raised to always take care of our family, and the way I take care of passengers is the way I would take care of my family. If there's one way I know I can make a difference with our Spanish speaking passengers, it's being able to speak the language. The glow that comes over a passenger's face when they realize there's someone who can speak Spanish is absolutely an indescribable feeling. With that glow comes comfort and joy. The small comfort they get from knowing someone can connect with them makes all the difference in their experience."

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United Cargo responds to COVID-19 challenges, prepares for what's next

By The Hub team, September 30, 2020

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, United Cargo has supported a variety of customers within the healthcare industry for over 10 years. Three key solutions – TempControl, LifeGuard and QuickPak – protect the integrity of vital shipments such as precision medicine, pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical equipment and vaccines. By utilizing processes like temperature monitoring, thermodynamic management, and priority boarding and handling, United Cargo gives customers the peace of mind that their shipments will be protected throughout their journey.

With the global demand for tailored pharmaceutical solutions at an all-time high, we've made investments to help ensure we provide the most reliable air cargo options for cold chain shipping. In April this year, we became the first U.S. carrier to lease temperature-controlled shipping containers manufactured by DoKaSch Temperature Solutions. We continue to partner with state-of-the-art container providers to ensure we have options that meet our customers' ever-changing needs.

"Providing safe air cargo transport for essential shipments has been a top priority since the pandemic began. While the entire air cargo industry has had its challenges, I'm proud of how United Cargo has adapted and thrived despite a significant reduction in network capacity and supply," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "We remain committed to helping our customers make it through the pandemic, as well as to doing everything we can to be prepared for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution when the time comes."

Our entire team continues to prioritize moving critical shipments as part of our commitment to supporting the global supply chain. We've assembled a COVID readiness task team to ensure we have the right people in place and are preparing our airports as we get ready for the industry-wide effort that comes next.

In cooperation with our partners all over the world, United Cargo has helped transport nearly 145 million pounds of medical supplies to aid in the fight against COVID-19, using a combination of cargo-only flights and passenger flig­hts. To date, United Cargo has operated more than 6,300 cargo-only flights and has transported more than 213 million pounds of cargo worldwide.

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