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Global citizenship

We commit to a cleaner future by pledging to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions

By United Airlines , September 13, 2018

Today was a historical day — we became the first U.S. airline to publicly commit to reducing our greenhouse emissions — 50 percent by 2050. This pledge further strengthens our commitment to becoming the world's most environmentally conscious airline. Achieving this goal would eliminate 21 million metric tons of CO2 in the atmosphere per year, equivalent to removing 4.5 million cars off the road or all of the cars in Los Angeles and New York City combined.

In order to meet that goal, we're making investments in fuel-efficient aircraft, implementing conservation-minded operational changes and pioneering the use of sustainable aviation biofuels.

Our CEO, Oscar Munoz, applauded the move, stating that in addition to being good for the environment, reducing our dependency on oil is good for our business. "At United, we believe there is no point in setting challenging and ambitious goals without also taking tangible steps towards achieving them, especially when it comes to securing the health of our communities and our planet," said Oscar Munoz, United's chief executive officer. "While we're proud to be first U.S. carrier taking such an ambitious step, it is a distinction we look forward to sharing as the rest of the industry catches up and makes similar commitments to sustainability."

To celebrate this historic commitment, we are operating the longest transatlantic biofuel flight to date, tomorrow, from San Francisco to Zurich. The flight will run on 16,000 gallons of biofuel at a 30/70 blend with conventional jet fuel supplied by World Energy, California-based refinery that converts feedstocks into low-carbon biofuel that cuts CO2 emissions by 60 percent on a life-cycle basis. Since 2016, we have sourced more sustainable aviation biofuel than any other carrier in the world. Our partnership with World Energy started back in 2016, with our inaugural flight from LAX. We will continue working together to decarbonize the air transportation industry by increasing the number of flights using renewable fuel.

"This flight is one of many steps needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions long-term and meet California's ambitious climate goals," said Bryan Sherbacow, Chief Commercial Officer, World Energy Paramount. "World Energy is a pioneer and the global leader of commercial renewable jet fuel, in addition to providing low-carbon solutions to the ground transportation industry. We are excited to continue to provide low-carbon solutions that enable our customers to achieve their sustainability goals and look forward to continuing this work with companies such as United at airports around the world."

Our efforts to be the greenest airline in the industry is about the future of our business and more importantly, our skies. For more information on how we're flying towards a more sustainable future, visit our Eco-Skies® page.


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Doing our part to #SheddTheStraw

By United Airlines , September 06, 2018

You may think that foregoing a single plastic straw won't effect change, but small actions can lead to big changes. That's why we are eliminating non-recyclable plastic stirring sticks and cocktail picks on our aircraft, and replacing them with an environmentally-friendly alternative made out of bamboo. Starting in early November, you'll see these items onboard our planes. It's a small, but meaningful step to help minimize the impact plastic products have on our environment.

With 8.8 billion tons of plastic in our oceans, our collective efforts have the ability to go a long way. Plastic products can take up to 22 years to degrade and even then aren't ever completely gone, as plastics are not fully biodegradable. And we're not just stopping there. The elimination of plastic stirring sticks and cocktail picks is just one part of a larger initiative we're taking here at United. We recycle aluminum cans, paper including newspapers and magazines, and plastic products onboard our planes. These efforts are part of our company-wide commitment to operating sustainably and responsibly. We're also evaluating more sustainable options for our onboard catering operations beyond our current partnership with brands that are committed to sustainable practices like illy coffee, which we proudly serve onboard our planes and in United Clubs℠ and lounges.

Additionally, we're partnering with the Shedd Aquarium in our hometown of Chicago, whose goal is to spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world, and which is doing its part to help animals and protect our waters through their #SheddTheStraw campaign. "We've partnered with Shedd Aquarium for over 30 years and we're proud to do our part to #SheddTheStraw and help conserve our oceans from excessive plastic waste," said Catering Operations Vice President, Charlean Gmunder.

Join us and the Shedd Aquarium to #SheddTheStraw.

"We are thrilled to work with United Airlines to reduce single-use plastic items used globally, which often pollute waterways and can harm wildlife," said Cheryl Mell, Senior Vice President, Conservation Partnerships and Programs. "United's commitment to Shedd the Straw by removing plastic stirrer sticks and cocktail picks is a shining example that plastic comes in different shapes and we can all be part of the solution to reduce our plastic footprint. A supporter of Shedd for 30 years, United's leadership toward environmentally-friendly business operations brings a positive impact that extends worldwide."

It's easy to go about our daily lives forgetting every little bit helps when it comes to protecting our environment. Here are a few things you can do to help when traveling:

  • Bring along a refillable bottle to use while you travel. Remember to fill it up once you have gone through security
  • Make sure to recycle any paper products like old magazines or newspapers
  • Separate your garbage items from your recyclable items until collected by a flight attendant
  • Use our United mobile app instead of a paper boarding pass

For more information on our commitment to the environment, visit our United Eco-Skies® page.

We fly Australian firefighters to wildfires

By Gladys Roman , August 10, 2018

As parts of Oregon and California continue to battle blazing wildfires that have already consumed thousands of acres of land, we stepped up to help and flew a group of Australian firefighters to Boise, Idaho, over the weekend.

We created an extra section to fly a group of firefighters from all over Australia to Los Angeles International Airport, where they departed on a flight to Boise, Idaho on August 4.

Australia/New Zealand Contingent Field Liaison Officer Barry James explained that firefighters were selected to come help based on their qualifications, and they're all proud to support their fellow firefighters in the United States.

"We're flying to Boise for a couple of days of training and then we'll be splitting up. Some of us are going to Northern California and the rest are going to Oregon for a six-week deployment," explained Officer James, who flew United for the first time, but said it won't be his last. "It was an awesome, awesome experience; it was really hospitable," he added.

Our Los Angeles based employees and crews made sure the firefighters felt their appreciation by giving them a special welcoming message in the gate area, where they thanked them for their hard work.

"It was such an incredible honor for us at LAX to meet and fly these men and women, who are sacrificing their time and putting their lives on the line to help us battle the wildfire devastation in this part of the country," said LAX Station Operations Control Manager Maggie Ronan. "The crew in general was just outstanding. They were all so honored to fly this group and felt it was amazing that United built the extra section for their journey. There was a very special energy felt on the flight as we closed up to send them off to BOI."

We're teaming up with leading disaster relief organizations to provide aid to those impacted by the California wildfires. We will match up to $50,000 in total donations made to our charitable partners, Airlink, American Red Cross, Americares, North Coast Opportunities and Shasta Regional Community Foundation. For more information and to make a donation California Wildfire relief efforts, visit our CrowdRise fundraising campaign.

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‘Inclusion Revolution’ takes center stage

By The Hub team

As the official airline sponsor of this celebration, we hosted a tent at the event, where more than 50 employee volunteers welcomed festivalgoers with giveaways, a digital photo booth and a message board where you could post an inspirational message for Special Olympics athletes. Those who stopped by the tent also had the opportunity to take photos with three Special Olympics athletes from our Superheroes ad campaign — Nikki Jones (aka Lane Lightening), Novie Craven (aka Bocce Boss) and Michael Schmidt (aka Super Hooper). The full-day event at Soldier Field also offered family-friendly activities, including sports, rides and games, exhibits, food and live entertainment.

It was so fun to see the faces of the athletes when we gave them the United Special Olympics pins, said Marketing Operations Program Manager Kathy Shrode, who volunteered at the event. "They were so thankful and you know they were going to treasure it."

Aerial view of United's tent at the Day of Inclusion events

The excitement continued into the night at the Global Day of Inclusion Celebration Concert, featuring performances by Chance the Rapper, Usher, Smokey Robinson and more. We also received a spotlight as our CEO, Oscar Munoz, took the stage to say a few words on behalf of the company.

You're here to be part of something much bigger, much more human, much more connected. You're clearly building a world that's united. Thank you so much, all of you, for being part of this, enjoy the rest of your night, enjoy the celebration, said Oscar, who was joined on stage by Bree Bogucki, a Special Olympics Illinois ambassador and athlete.

Oscar at the photo booth tent with festivalgoers

Chicago O'Hare based First Officer Gerald Boeckmann was one of five employees who were selected to be part of the anniversary celebration. Gerald's 17-year-old son Noah has Down Syndrome and has been a Special Olympics athlete for the last eight years, competing in various sports. Special Olympics is very important not only to Noah but also to his two sisters and Gerald.

It's exhilarating to be a part of this, and, when I was notified that we were one of the families to be selected, the kids were jumping off the floor, said Gerald. "I give credit to all the volunteers and caretakers who work with kids with special needs, and I thank Oscar and United for bringing all of us together."

Special Olympics launched its mission at Soldier Field in 1968 and has since grown to involve 4.5 million athletes from over 170 countries.

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Flying the flame, igniting inclusion

By The Hub team

It was an unusual sight: a flame on a plane -- but that's exactly what passengers on a flight from Boston to Chicago witnessed as we transported the very special cargo on July 18. The flame was enclosed in a secure lantern and accompanied by a Special Olympic athlete and two Guardians of the Flame – members of a group of more than 100,000 law enforcement officers whose role is to protect and ensure the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame wherever it travels.

This wasn't just any flame, however; it was the Special Olympics' Flame of Hope, the flame which lit the Eternal Flame of Hope to kick off Special Olympics' 50th anniversary celebration Friday morning.

United employees waiting at a gate at O'Hare for the arrival of the Flame of Hope

CEO Oscar Munoz, General Counsel and EVP Brett Hart; and Community Affairs VP Sharon Grant, along with many employees and customers, greeted the Flame upon arrival to O'Hare International Airport, where it was presented to local Guardians of the Flame.

We didn't just transport the Flame of Hope on board one of our flights, said Oscar. "That flight symbolized how we are taking the values of inclusion and respect, which that Flame represents, fully on board as a company."

From O'Hare, the Flame traveled to Soldier Field, the site of the very first International Special Olympics Summer Games 50 years ago, and where the Law Enforcement Torch Run® took place the morning of Friday, July 20. More than 100 employees participated in the event, a four-mile course along the lakefront in downtown Chicago, along with hundreds of law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from throughout Illinois and the world.

I saw people from all over the world come together for a great cause, said Global Catering Operations Projects and Performance Manager Yana Strutz, who participated in the Torch Run, "It is wonderful to see my colleagues take time out of their busy schedules to ensure that Special Olympics athletes get the time and attention they deserve."

Employees and volunteers at Soldier Field

The run concluded with the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope monument, a flame that symbolizes the eternal hope that Special Olympics provides to athletes and their families. The flame will stay forever ignited inside the permanent, 30-foot monument outside of Soldier Field.

United will go beyond just flying the Flame of Hope on one flight, we will 'carry the torch' everywhere we fly and spread the light of this inclusion revolution. We intend to be ambassadors for this movement everywhere we operate, said Oscar.

Our partnership with Special Olympics represents our continuing effort to break down barriers and further build on Special Olympics' remarkable legacy of inclusion by engaging our employees around the world.

Employees team up with California State Parks Foundations for Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup

By The Hub team

This past Earth Day, employees teamed up with the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) for its 20th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup. CSPF is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting, improving and advocating for all of California's 280 state parks. The annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup provides an opportunity for California communities to do something meaningful for the planet.

Employees from various divisions, including operations, human resources, customer service, finance and community affairs, came together to help with environmental improvement projects. Working at two project sites in California, employees volunteered to perform much-needed maintenance to the preservation and upkeep of state parks.

At Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Los Angeles, employees worked to eradicate a hillside of non-native plants and plant over 50 new native shrubs, grass and cacti. The overlook and hiking trails provide breathtaking, panoramic views of the Los Angeles Basin, the Pacific Ocean and surrounding mountains.

In San Francisco, employees gathered at Sunrise Point in Candlestick Point Recreation Area — the future home to one of only two urban campsites in the city. The point provides sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, the East Bay and San Bruno Mountain. While there, employees planted local native plants to support ecological diversity, weeded and removed invasive plants and species, and removed several pounds of trash.

These vital conservation efforts aid State parks in the face of natural disasters. Thanks to CSPF and the volunteers, the parks are better able to cope with wildfires, drought and other environmental impacts. Employees were able to unite in the stewardship of California's state parks, and make lasting friendships while connecting with nature.

You can learn more about California State Parks Foundation and its efforts to preserve and improve California's state parks on their website.

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