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Introducing Better Boarding

By United Airlines , September 17, 2018

The feedback from customers and employees was clear: we needed to improve our boarding process. As part of our ongoing efforts to put customers at the center of everything we do, we identified boarding as an opportunity to improve the airport experience. We tested a variety of different boarding processes on thousands of flights across multiple airports. Best practices emerged from each test, and combined, they now form what we are calling "Better Boarding".

Better Boarding consists of three key improvements

Less time in line:

By reducing the number of boarding lanes, there is more space for customers to enjoy the gate areas, many of which have been completely remodeled with more comfortable seating and in some airports, the ability to have food and drinks from within the airport delivered directly to the gate area. Over the years, we have invested millions of dollars in our terminals, and now with less time spent standing in line, customers will have more time to dine, shop, relax, work or enjoy a United Club℠.

Simplified gate layout

Say goodbye to the five long lines we see today

Group 1 will board through the blue lane.

Group 2 will board through the green lane, followed by groups 3, 4, and 5.

Two groups on each side of sign indicating lanes 1 (blue) and 2 (green)

Late arriving customers in Group 1 and 2 will use the blue lane.

Customers in groups 3, 4, and 5 always use the green lane.

Better information:

We are providing customers with more information throughout the boarding process so that they feel more at ease, and more equipped with the latest information about their flight. Customers with the United app can receive a push notification once their flight starts boarding. Customers will only receive the notification if they've opted in for push notifications and have a mobile boarding pass in the app's wallet.

Enhanced communications

Be in the know about boarding

Mobile phone and smartwatch with boarding notifications

Customers will receive boarding notifications through the United app (if they've opted in for notifications).

Gate information display with boarding instructions for group 1-2 through lane 1 (blue) and group 3-4 through lane 2 (green)

Improved gate area digital signage to guide customers through boarding.

Balanced groups and better recognition:

United MileagePlus® Premier 1K® customers will now pre-board and United MileagePlus Premier Gold customers will be boarding in Group 1. For more information on our boarding groups, visit: https://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/travel/airport/boarding-process.aspx

Improved premier customer recognition

We're happy to make them happy

Premier passenger in front of boarding line

Improved premier recognition and better positioning of customers to create balanced boarding groups.

The new Better Boarding process is just one of the steps we are taking to improve the customer experience. We will continue to collect feedback from customers on ways we can further improve boarding and you may receive a post-travel survey to tell us more about your experience

Introducing a more personalized experience on united.com

By Gladys Roman , July 13, 2018

Our united.com homepage is getting some big enhancements. Yesterday, we announced the launch of the new site, which will offer a more modern, user-friendly design, allowing users a more personalized digital experience.

Each one of our customers is unique and has different needs for his or her travel, and personalizing our digital offerings is just another step toward giving our customers the experience and the products that they ask for, said Digital Products and Analytics VP Praveen Sharma. "Our goal with this new homepage is to provide customers with a more seamless experience."

The new website will provide personalized content based on a customer's MileagePlus® status as well as upcoming, current or prior trips. It will also include a new display that will be fully responsive for optimal viewing on desktop and mobile devices. Later this year, the site will include a travel section that will provide customers with curated content from destinations United serves.

We began rolling out the new homepage in April and continued expanding it to more users while we added more functionality throughout the phased rollout. The site will be live to all customers in early August.

These efforts are part of our commitment to improve our customers' travel experience through every step of their journey. Earlier this year, we updated our mobile website, adding a more optimized display, additional flexibility to adjust flights throughout the site, Japanese language translations and more.

Our new homepage will also appear on our mobile website, creating a more seamless experience when customers are managing travel and bookings across multiple devices.

Introducing the newest United Polaris lounge at IAH

By The Hub team , July 05, 2018

Customers traveling United Polaris® business class will now be able to relax and dine before their flight out of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport at the recently opened United Polaris lounge. From distinct flair like unique artwork and Southern food specialties, the new lounge offers customers a chance to experience what makes Houston unique.

Located in Terminal E, next to Gate E12, the new United Polaris lounge is the most recent of several investments we have made in Houston, including our announcement of a $1M grant to the Houston Food Bank as well as our long-term lease commitment at 609 Main in downtown Houston.

A focus on food and culture

The new United Polaris\u00ae lounge at IAH boasts food unique to the Houston area

Dubbed the culinary and cultural capital of the South, the new United Polaris lounge features artwork throughout from local artists, Shane Tolbert and Terrel James. Food highlights include a Texas breakfast skillet, Cajun andouille sausage and chicken étouffée, Argentinian roasted chimichurri chicken, tres leches bites and the United Polaris burger, which will be on the menu at all United Polaris lounges. The cocktail menu includes Caliente on the Rocks, which contains Casamigos® Tequila, orange juice and a homemade sour mix, garnished with a jalapeño for an extra kick and caipirinhas, the traditional Brazilian cocktail made from muddle lime, sugar and cachaça. Also available is our house-made star infused vodka and oolong tea-steeped bourbon.

As we continue to increase momentum of the roll-out of United Polaris, we're thrilled to bring this industry-leading lounge concept to Houston, where the lounge décor, food and drink are all a reflection of the city, said Mark Krolick, United's Vice President of Marketing. "We specifically designed this United Polaris lounge location to feel like a boutique hotel, with dedicated spaces for relaxation, refreshing and dining and we're confident that our Houston customers and those connecting through this award-winning airport will enjoy a best-in-class lounge experience."

Seating and amenities for business and for comfort

With 191 seats, 324 power outlets and 264 USB ports, the lounge is well suited for those traveling for business or for pleasure. 2 private daybeds outfitted with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and 6 luxurious shower suites, featuring rainfall showers and SoHo House & Co's Cowshed products are also available for those looking to rest or to freshen up. Additionally, there will be ample space to keep luggage in the shower suite, so customers will always have their personal items at hand. Personal valet services are also provided upon request, including garment steaming.

The shower suite at the new United Polaris\u00ae lounge at IAH

Additional updates coming soon

The focus behind the United Polaris experience has always been to provide long-haul travelers with what they've asked for: better sleep in the sky. On average, we plan to add one aircraft with the new United Polaris business class seat every 10 days from now through 2020. And as of July 1, every seat in the United Polaris cabin will be provisioned with a cooling gel pillow. The gel pillow, previously available by request, has proven to be one of the most popular items of United Polaris bedding.

The opening of the United Polaris lounge at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport follows closely follows the debut of the United Polaris lounge at San Francisco International Airport in April and the United Polaris lounge at New York/Newark last month. The United Polaris lounge at Los Angeles International Airport will open later this fall.

Closer than you think: Using innovation to show the convenience of EWR travel

By The Hub team

If you live in the New York City area or have ever visited the Big Apple, you'll know a couple of things when it comes to traveling into and out of the city. First, there are a lot of people — both locals and tourists alike; second, a large population means unavoidable traffic woes; and third you have three airports to choose from when it comes to your travel options. With multiple travel options, how does one decide which route to take? As many New Yorkers will tell you, getting anywhere in a New York minute doesn't always equate to getting to your destination quickly. So, does that mean you should make your travel selection based on proximity? Well, not necessarily.

To help make the selection process easier, we launched an innovative campaign with our advertising agency partner, McGarry Bowen, to show New Yorkers just how much time they can save by flying in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport, our New York area hub. Using GPS software, we teamed up with Verifone Media and Kinetic to show skeptics that EWR is much closer than they think. Outfitting 125 yellow cabs in New York City, we used real-time data from the Curb app to provide updates with time estimates based on the taxi cab's geolocation and surrounding traffic patterns placed strategically on the roof of the vehicle also known as the taxi-top ad placement. The campaign recently took home two awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a global event that recognizes creative communications and advertising, considered to be the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry.

In the fiercely competitive airline advertising market of New York, it's a constant challenge to think up new ways to cleverly stand out, said Global Advertising Director Daniel Cuellar. The taxi top campaign allowed us to be the first to use innovative technology to show New Yorkers just how close Newark is."

United's Terminal C at EWR recently underwent a $120 million renovation. So, not only can you get there much faster than you think, once there you'll have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to passing the time before your flight. From a bevy of world-class food options to unique experiences, Terminal C has a lot to offer travelers. Additionally, the newly opened United Polaris® lounge gives customers traveling in United Polaris business class a chance to relax and dine before their flight. From distinctive lighting to unique artwork to a focus on craft cocktails and comfort food, the new lounge at EWR embraces the energy of the Newark/New York metropolitan area and the exciting destinations served from it.

Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your next trip through EWR.

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A final farewell to the Queen of the Skies

By Benét J. Wilson , June 15, 2018

Have you ever wondered what happens to an aircraft after the end of its useful life? Well 13 lucky MileagePlus® members and two of our employees got to find out after winning an Exclusives auction.


The auction prize was a behind-the-scenes trip to Universal Asset Management's (UAM) facility in Tupelo, Mississippi, where our last four Boeing 747s are being disassembled and the parts prepared for recycling. It also included a champagne toast onboard N118UA, our last 747, and dinner under the stars with the Queen of the Skies.

As we arrived at the facility, adjacent to Tupelo Regional Airport, several of us were a little emotional when we saw the aircraft in different stages of disassembly. But in the company's lunch room — decked out with Malaysia Air first class seats, airplane art and a table made from a stabilizer — Keri Wright, UAM's CEO was firm about her company's mission. “We don't tear down or scrap aircraft. We focus on recycling," she stated. “Think of it like organ donation. These parts can help other aircraft continue to fly. And you are among the few people in the world to see all of this from behind the scenes."

We then headed to the facility's Global Distribution Center warehouse. The lobby of the facility featured our first class seats and galley carts, along with a tire rim-and-glass coffee table and a credenza/bar made from the window section of a 737 fuselage.

Wright, along with Senior Manager, Fleet Transactions Jim Garcia walked us through the warehouse and explained how parts were tracked and cataloged. Among the items we saw were two wrapped helicopters, Boeing 777 landing gears, 747 tire rims, thrust reversers and a cowling from the center engine of a McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

MileagePlus members walking around the last 747

When the warehouse tour ended, it was back to the airport facility. We went out on the tarmac and took pictures of the 747s, including the star of the show — N118UA. Though, all four jets' engines had been removed already.

After a series of photos, we climbed the air stair onto N118UA, where we were able to walk around. I had the honor of being on the last United 747 flight in November 2017, so I grabbed a glass of champagne and sat in my seat — 8C — one last time. We all joined in a final champagne toast to the jet, then deplaned for dinner.

One of the lucky winners was Eric Chiang, an economics professor at Florida Atlantic University, who brought his friend Vicky Chiu, who flew in from Hawaii. “We've been friends for years and we love to travel. I was onboard a flight to London and read a short newspaper article about this auction," he recalled. “We were about to take off and I called Vicky and asked her to bid on this event. I bid 168,000 miles, but got it for less.

Chiang and Chiu are both 1K flyers on United. “I expect to do around 15 international trips this year. I love United because they're able to reach more global destinations than any other airlines," said Chiang.

They both appreciated the chance to attend such a unique event. “Experiences like these are different. We really appreciate the chance for this behind-the-scenes event," said Chiang. “It was also a great chance to meet United executives and share feedback on what's going on at the airline."

MileagPlus members at the Exclusive event

John Ikeda, a United Global Services member who is approaching two million miles, brought his partner Michael Phelps to the event. He also read about the event in a newspaper article, but he also had a special reason for wanting to attend the 747 farewell.

At the last MileagePlus® Experiences auction, I won an altimeter that was on an older 747, and I wanted to see if I could trace where it came from," said Ikeda. “Jim Garcia was able to trace it for me. I was thrilled that I was able to see other parts from that same 747 in the UAM warehouse.

The event exceeded Ikeda's expectations. “I thought it would just be a warehouse tour, a walk on a plane and not much else," he said. “It was great to hear Keri and Jim discuss this side of the business. It was fascinating to learn that this place wasn't about scrapping aircraft, but giving them new life."

Although this event has passed, it's not too late to bid on hardware from N118UA, including single window and American flag cuts out and tail numbers. Join the MileagePlus® Exclusives email list to stay in the know on the hardware auction and other future events.

Go inside the new United Polaris lounge at EWR

By The Hub team , June 05, 2018

Today, customers traveling in United Polaris® will be able to relax and dine before their travels in the new United Polaris lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport. From distinctive lighting to unique artwork to a focus on craft cocktails, the new lounge at EWR embraces the energy of the Newark/New York metropolitan area and the exciting destinations served from it.

The United Polaris lounge at EWR is conveniently located in Terminal C, following security screening, between Gates C102 and C120.

The lighting fixture that mimics the constellations of the 12 zodiac signs in the entry of the new United Polaris lounge at EWR

Staying true to its Newark/New York City roots

Exhibiting distinct local flair, visitors are greeted with a vibrant lighting fixture created by Brooklyn-based art and design laboratory Richard Clarkson Studio that is meant to mimic the constellations of the 12 zodiac signs upon entry into the lounge. In a nod to the city's recognition for preeminence in the world for craft cocktails, the bar is the stand-out gem of this United Polaris lounge, both in terms of size and the array of cocktails offered. The thoughtful cocktail list includes the United Polaris Old Fashioned, a fresh take on the classic, complete with J. Rieger & Co. Kansas City Whiskey, a house simple syrup, Dale DeGroff bitters with a muddled orange wheel and Luxardo cherry, just like the legend himself — Dale DeGroff— makes it. A custom-designed a la carte dining menu blends international comfort foods, such as Moroccan-spiced braised lamb, with staples like the United Polaris Burger, which will be on the menu at all United Polaris lounges.

The spacious lounge seating at the new United Polaris lounge at EWR

Lounge seating and amenities to meet all needs

With more than 27,000 square feet, the lounge boasts 15 different types of seating for up to 455 travelers, and comes equipped with 570 power outlets, 450 USB ports and 4 private phone rooms for meetings and calls. For those wanting to relax, the lounge has 10 private daybeds outfitted with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and 10 luxurious shower suites, featuring rainfall showers and SoHo House & Co's Cowshed products, featuring the best in wildcrafted ingredients and essential oils. Customers have ample space to keep their luggage with them in the shower suite so they will have all their personal items at hand. A valet will even steam their clothes upon request.

Food and drink spread at the new United Polaris lounge at EWR

Food and drink selections with world-class influences

From a private dining area to a bistro-like buffet and a cocktail menu with signature drinks, visitors can look forward to a culinary journey with an inventive, seasonal menu that manages to be familiar and far reaching at once. Food and drink selections include nods to both the local area and the popular destinations we serve from New York/Newark. Customers can grab a bite from the buffet before boarding or settle in for a full meal in the private dining space, which seats close to 50 people. A custom-designed a la carte dining menu blends international comfort foods, such as Moroccan-spiced braised lamb, with staples like the United Polaris Burger, which will be on the menu at all United Polaris lounges. A bistro-like buffet that includes a do-it-yourself bagel bar plus sandwiches and wraps such as a curried salmon salad with cucumber raita and baby spinach on a pumpernickel roll as well as a charcuterie board and chicken parmesan.

Visitors to the United Polaris Lounge at EWR enjoy craft cocktails at the bar

The extensive cocktail menu with signature drinks features the Fernet About It, a unique version of the Cuba Libre containing the Italian libation, and the United Polaris Star with a house-made anise-infused vodka as well as other house-made items including oolong-steeped bourbon, lavender syrup, vodkas and vermouth. Whether sampling the charcuterie board or sipping on a London Spritz, customers have plenty of choices to fuel up for their flight ahead.

More United customers begin their journey in the New York/New Jersey region than in any other of our hub cities. From here, our route network reaches across the globe, and we are thrilled to now offer our customers traveling in United Polaris business class a best-in-class lounge experience, said Jill Kaplan, President, New York/New Jersey for United Airlines. "We continue to add new international destinations from Newark, including Porto, Portugal and Reykjavik, Iceland, which we launched this month. The addition of the United Polaris lounge for our customers traveling on long-haul flights strengthens our service offering in Newark for the most enjoyable experience."

Additional updates coming soon

The focus behind the United Polaris experience has always been to provide long-haul travelers with what they've asked for: better sleep in the sky. On average, we plan to add one aircraft with the new United Polaris business class seat every 10 days from now through 2020. Beginning July 1, every seat in the United Polaris cabin will be provisioned with a cooling gel pillow. The gel pillow, previously available by request, has proven to be one of the most popular items of United Polaris bedding.

The opening of the United Polaris lounge at New York/Newark closely follows the debut of the United Polaris lounge at San Francisco International Airport in April. The United Polaris lounge at George Bush Intercontinental in Houston will open this summer, followed by the lounge at Los Angeles International Airport this fall.

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