Watch now: The sound of aloha
Standing inside Play4M.E.'s storefront at Honolulu's Ala Moana Center, it's hard not to notice a common tendency in the passersby: a quick glance through the window followed by a double-take and, inevitably, a smile. A room filled floor-to-ceiling with bright blue, red, green and yellow `ukuleles can have that effect on people.
Unlike its trendy neighbors in the open-air mall, Play4M.E. (short for Play for Music Education) isn't a retail outlet. That is most evident by the signs beneath the rows of `ukuleles reading PLEASE TOUCH. Instead, it's a place where anyone, regardless of skill level, can experience the joy of making music free of charge. Which is exactly what San Francisco-based Flight Attendant Leo Daquioag had in mind when he opened the place in February under the umbrella of his non-profit Music for Life Foundation.
Raised in Honolulu, Leo created Music for Life six years ago as a way to use his free time to benefit the community that has meant so much to him. "I have a lot of downtime between trips," he says, "so I was looking for ways to stay busy. I started thinking about what I have to offer and how I could give back."
A lifelong musician (for what it's worth, back in high school, his rock group the Descendants won a Honolulu "Battle of Bands"), Leo had a pretty good idea of the direction he should go. "Music has always been in my life, so I figured I could use that passion to help others."
He began by recruiting area musicians to play fundraising events, like the one that he helped organize after the 2011 Fukushima earthquake in Japan, and worked with news outlets, educators and local residents to hold instrument donation drives in support of scholastic music programs. That's when he stumbled upon a find that has helped take his mission in a new direction.
Last year, Leo was contacted by a local teacher who mentioned having a stockpile of unused `ukuleles at her elementary school. He soon discovered a similar trove on many campuses around Oahu. "Decades ago, the State of Hawaii put them in all of our public schools," he says. "Kids who grew up on the mainland learned to play the recorder and we learned to play the `ukulele. But when funding for music and arts programs was cut, they were put away in storage. The schools had all of these instruments, but they were in disrepair because they hadn't been played for years."
In a serendipitous twist, those same instruments had been made by Kamaka Ukulele, which is owned by the family of one of Leo's close friends, Chris Kamaka. Leo asked Chris for help refurbishing the `ukuleles, and another of his pals, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, volunteered to personally repair 100 of them while on tour. Together, they were committed to getting the instruments into the hands of students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to play.
At the same time, Mike Upton, owner of Kala Ukulele in Petaluma, California, found out about Leo's work and donated more than 2,000 of their beginner models for the project. Before long, Leo had enough to outfit the Play4M.E. center in addition to several schools.
"Music identifies a culture," he says. "When kids don't get the chance to participate in that, we lose some of our humanity. The next generation of doctors and scientists need to exercise the creative side of their brains, too."
On most afternoons and weekends the Play4M.E. space is awash with sound, as kids of all ages, oftentimes accompanied by their parents, learn to play the instrument that holds such a revered place in Hawaii. In his first brick-and-mortar endeavor, Leo has gone to great lengths to foster a creative, welcoming environment in which to bring music to the masses. In May, the center even hosted its "`Ukulebrity Series," with workshops by several well-known musicians, including Kalei Gamiao, Benny Chong and Taimane Gardner.
"In Hawaii we have this word, pono," Leo says. "Pono can mean showing love, showing aloha and showing support for the community because you love it. I like that word. With the Music for Life Foundation, we want to be vehicles for musicians, organizations and for other non-profits to show pono."
As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.
Appointed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Jill joins the New Jersey Restart and Recovery Advisory Council — a group of business and municipal leaders tasked with planning to restart the state's economy.
"Serving on Governor Murphy's Restart & Advisory Council uniquely positions us in the epicenter of helping to restart state's economy by providing innovative ideas, sharing best practices and creative thinking to help ensure the rebuilding of New Jersey's economic vitality alongside notable business leaders," said Jill. "I'm honored to represent United Airlines and the transportation industry as a core building block to expediting the state's recovery."
United is the sixth largest company in the state and one of the largest essential businesses continuing to operate through this crisis, and as or advocate, Jill will share some of our best practices and lessons we're learning with the nine different committees through the customer and employee lens.
On the opposite coast, California Governor Gavin Newsom last month appointed Janet to his Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. Joining Janet at the table are former California governors, legislative leaders and CEOs and executives from numerous businesses with large stakes in the state, such as Apple and Disney. In addition to Janet's position on the task force, Janet is also serving on the Long-Term Jobs Recovery sub-committee and will advocate for industries suffering long-term ramifications of COVID-19 such as tourism, travel and entertainment.
"Being appointed to Governor Newsom's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery ensures that United is part of the important conversation and part of the plan to help California pave the way toward a fast, safe recovery of jobs," said Janet. "It is an honor to represent the only transportation business on the task force, and I look forward to working alongside a group of very distinguished leaders and focusing on innovative ways to rebuild the economy for our 40 million residents. This work will build on our partnership with the Governor to provide free flights for medical volunteers and having our employees call to check in on isolated older adults as part of the Social Bridging Project."
Pre-COVID, we transported 38 million passengers to, from and within California each year, and directly and indirectly supported tens of thousands of jobs, so the health and well-being of the industry is vital to the prosperity of the state.
As the only airline represented among each of these groups, Jill and Janet are working hard to ensure that our voices, as a company and industry, are heard, valued and utilized as a new chapter dawns on the horizon.
Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.
While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.
First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.
As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.
Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.
We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.
But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.
Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.
Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.
While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.
Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.
At the airport
1Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
2Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
3Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
4Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
5Introducing touchless check-in for customers with bags
At the gate:
6Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
7Providing hand sanitizer and
8Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
9Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing
On our aircraft
1Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
2Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
3Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
4Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
5Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
6Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
7Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
- Limiting middle seat selection
- Moving customers seated closely together
- De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
8Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
9Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles
We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
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 and Microsoft Teams, video conferencing tools 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).
To use on Zoom:
- 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.
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.