Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities - United Hub

Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities

By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

"The parts of the travel experience that we all take for granted like checking luggage, getting your flight status and accessing a boarding pass can still be a challenge for someone with a visual disability," said EVP of Technology and Chief Digital Officer Linda Jojo. "These new accessibility enhancements are part of our continuing commitment to level the playing field, unlock all the customer benefits of our app and give people with disabilities more independence while traveling."

Senior Accessibility Analyst Ray Campbell is a member of United's digital team who's visually impaired and sits on the board of the American Council of the Blind. He played a key role in helping us redesign the app. He even put the app to the test as seen in this video.

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"Optimizing mobile apps for tools such as VoiceOver and TalkBack has been a game changer, allowing people with visual disabilities to fully utilize smartphone technology in their daily lives," said Ray. "It's just as important for someone with a visual disability to easily access day-of-travel information and features as for any other customer. Improving the accessibility of the United app, helps us truly live out United's mission of caring for all customers."

United's Senior Accessibility Analyst Ray Campbell using the mobile app at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Beyond the accessibility changes, our digital team enhanced the current offering while keeping the features that helped the app win a Webby People's Voice award in 2019.

  • For our MileagePlus® program members, the app now features a refreshed account experience for members to easily check balances, track Premier® progress, explore MileagePlus benefits, access past activity and more, all in one place.
  • The airline is also expanding a popular feature previously only accessible to MileagePlus members. Now, all 37 million customers who have the United app will see a contextualized home screen starting 48 hours before their flight which provides dynamic updates based on where a customer is in their travel journey. For example, customers can see the boarding status of their flight on their homescreen, access personal device entertainment onboard with one click, find a link to a map with gate-to-gate directions for connecting flights and click a quick access button to track any checked bags upon arrival.
  • We made slight tweaks to navigation based on customer feedback to make the app more intuitive, including making the bottom navigation persistent throughout the app. Another example is the "More" menu, which was reorganized and now contains the "Inbox" feature, which includes timely messages about boarding announcements, gate changes and other travel updates.
  • Customers will notice a new color palette that's consistent with the refreshed branding the airline debuted in 2019. United's digital team also made subtle design adjustments to make things more consistent and easier to find, like always using a purple bar to highlight the main call-to-action on a page and ensuring alerts and flight status icons appear the same way in every page on the app.
  • All of these changes are underpinned by a new back-end platform, which will ultimately make the app faster and more responsive.

The redesigned app is now available to download for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® devices (as an iPhone app) and for Android devices.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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