Three Perfect Days: Montana - United Hub
Hemispheres

Three Perfect Days: Montana

By The Hub team, August 01, 2017

Story by Jacob Baynham | Photography by Brad Torchia | Hemispheres, August 2017

Montana is a story best told outside. It's a place where people measure the worth of their weekends by the mud on their boots. Those who were born here know what they have. Those who visit will dream about finding a way to stay. But no one is indecisive about living in Montana. If you're here, you're all in. You're outside and getting up early, as Norman Maclean wrote in A River Runs Through It, “to see as much of the Lord's daylight as is given to us."

Day 1 Graphic

In which Jacob drinks espresso with a pop star, does some vicarious surfing, and fulfills his dream of owning—ok, renting—a 1986 VW Van

I'm standing 620 feet above Missoula, beside a giant white “M" branded onto a mountainside. Fifteen thousand years ago, I'd have been underwater. During the last ice age, a glacier dammed the Clark Fork River, creating a lake that was 2,000 feet deep and larger than Delaware. Beavers the size of grizzlies roamed its banks. Then the dam broke and flushed the lake out to the Pacific. I'm looking down at the aftermath, which is now the midsize college town where I live.

The sun hasn't quite crested Mount Sentinel behind me, but it's light enough to see the maple-lined streets and the Clark Fork unspooling through town. Somewhere to my right, in the shadow of Mount Jumbo, is my house. It feels good to linger in the cool air and listen to the meadowlarks, but few moments are as heavy with possibility as a Montana summer sunrise. So when the University of Montana clock tower chimes the hour below, I'm already jogging down the switchbacks toward another kind of pick-me-up.

I find it at Drum Coffee, a new café owned by John Wicks, the drummer for the indie-pop band Fitz and the Tantrums. Wicks's wife, Jenna, grew up in Missoula, and after the couple had kids they moved here from Southern California. He's tall, with thick-framed glasses and a peacoat with notebooks in the breast pocket. Over a café cortado, he tells me how Montana won his heart.

Surfers on the rushing Clark Fork RiverSurfers on the rushing Clark Fork River

“In Los Angeles, I got the sense that people were trying to make their lives as easy as possible," he says. “That's not a goal here. People want to see the benefit of their hard work. I really love that about this place."

Before he moved here, Wicks felt jaded, toiling away in a cutthroat industry. But now, when he's not on tour, he spends his days managing the café, giving drum lessons to kids, and running up the mountains behind his house. “The topography of this place plays a part in the humility here," he says. “These mountains don't care what you do. They're going to be here when you're gone. That plays a big part in people's priorities."

One of my immediate priorities is brunch at Scotty's Table, an Art Deco–inflected bistro downtown. I order a burger made from cattle that graze a pasture along the Bitterroot River, south of town. It's topped with a farm-fresh egg and bacon, and it's a tribute to sustainable beef.

From here, I cut through Caras Park to the Clark Fork, where surfers are playing in a standing wave. The river is high and brown, but the surfers are out anyway, paddling furiously into the froth, then springing to their feet, suspended by the roaring current. I feel a vicarious thrill.

John Wicks, musicianJohn Wicks, musician

A hundred yards upstream is the Clark Fork Farmers Market, where locals wander among stalls bearing homemade jellies, morel mushrooms, beeswax lip balm, and kombucha. At Ninja Mike's breakfast stall, a man in a mechanic's jumpsuit works the griddle, flipping egg sandwiches to old-school hip-hop. Farther down, a sandy-haired kid in a Nirvana sweatshirt strums Green Day on an unplugged Stratocaster.

The day is getting on. I've spent weeks planning these three days, but I'm most excited about the driving, which I've arranged to do in a 1986 Volkswagen Westfalia Weekender Camper—a personal dream. I collect one at the airport from Dragonflyvans, where Scott Quinnett introduces me to a van he calls Lizard King—named both for Jim Morrison and for the lizard that was living in the engine when he bought it. The vehicle has a beige interior, the aerodynamics of a brick, and no power steering. I'm smitten.

Quinnett walks me through Lizard King's particularities (take hills slowly) and hands me the keys. “I can almost guarantee you a blast," he says with a smile. The van purrs to life, and I crank its large steering wheel homeward to pick up my family.

“Montana is one of the few places where the far right and the far left coexist and want the same thing: to preserve what's here." —John Wicks

A few notes on my family: My wife, Hilly, gave birth to our second son, Julian, three weeks ago. Our other son, Theo, is 3. But Hilly is a fourth-generation Montanan, and game for adventure. So is our 10-year-old niece, Salome, who's along for the ride. We pile into the van and head to Tagliare Deli for sandwiches, all of which are named after rock bands—I order the Megadeth, with spicy capicola, soppressata, and mozzarella. We roll out of town through a notch in the hills on Highway 93.

Our next stop is for candy, at Hummingbird Toys and Treats in Arlee, on the Flathead Indian Reservation about 30 miles north. The Hummingbird is a local fixture that sells 60 varieties of black licorice from around the world, and there is much deliberation before we can set off again.

Scarcely 10 minutes up the road is another mandatory stop: the Windmill Village Bakery in Ravalli, where owner Nancy Martin sells fresh doughnuts the way her mother made them. She chops one up for Salome and Theo, and hands me one on a square of wax paper. It's warm, soft as a marshmallow, and gone in a few savage bites.

Martin was born and raised in Montana. “When you live somewhere else, people don't like you until you give them a reason to," she says. “In Montana, people like you until you give them a reason not to. And you can't beat the scenery. The day we crest that hill and don't gasp, we need to reboot, because something's off the rails."

Strolling North Higgins Ave. in downtown MissoulaStrolling North Higgins Ave. in downtown Missoula

She's referring to Ravalli Hill, and when we crest it, minutes later, we do gasp, as always. The Mission Mountains rise straight from the valley floor here, a blue-green wall of peaks. They're distractingly beautiful.

We drive beneath them to Polson, a small town where the trees outnumber the houses on the shore of Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the West and one of the cleanest in the country. We travel up the west shore, past cherry orchards, to Tamarack Brewery in Lakeside (our lodgings are nearby, and I'm ready for a drink).

We sip our way through a comprehensive flight of beers and nibble on fish and chips. Everyone's tired. The West Shore State Park campground beckons. We pull into the site and I pop the top of Lizard King while Salome builds a fire. We can see blue water through the trees below us and snow on the mountains beyond. The campground is quiet.

At 10 o'clock, it's still light. Salome and Theo are asleep in the upper bunk; Hilly, Julian, and I are stretched out below. I go to sleep thinking there's no place I'd rather be.

Day 2 Graphic

In which Jacob cooks a campfire breakfast, boats to a lake island, and cycles to the sun in Glacier National Park

All right, the night wasn't total bliss. Hilly elbowed me awake to say, “You're doing that breathing thing again." The kids were restless. But by 6:30 the birds are singing, and I'm rested enough to slide open the van door.

Lizard King makes camping almost effortless. I pull a propane burner from the cupboard, along with a kettle and a French press. Minutes later, I hand Hilly a cup of coffee, and she hands me Julian, to burp. Salome and Theo help me cook eggs and sausages on the fire.

After breakfast, we walk down to the lake, which is lined with moss-green rocks and clumps of purple flowers. The sun is warm, and I decide to take a dip. It's a brief one. This lake used to be a glacier, and it hasn't warmed much since.

Group of cattle at Flathead Lake State Park

Amy Grout, the Flathead Lake State Park manager, has offered to take me to Wild Horse Island, a 2,163-acre park and the largest island in the lake. The Salish and Kootenai used to swim their best horses out to the island, to foil thieves. It's still home to five wild horses, about 100 bighorn sheep, 50 mule deer, and a handful of coyotes—plus a black bear and a mountain lion that swam out there.

While my family plays on the shore, I wobble aboard Grout's motorboat, alongside a middle-aged couple named JoAnn and Glenn, who spend their summer weekends as volunteer guides. They're the sort of intense, competent types who can wield a phrase like “Drop the stern anchor." I fasten my life vest, happy they're aboard.

Grout steers away from the dock and points the bow toward Wild Horse. “This is a little gem of Montana," she says. “It's a pretty special place." Waves splash against the aluminum hull, and after some engine trouble—an opportunity for JoAnn and Glenn to cheerfully connect the backup motor—we make landfall.

JoAnn and Glenn stay with the boat as I follow Grout up the hillside. We wade through a knee-deep, bright yellow sea of arrowleaf balsamroot. Grout has short chestnut hair and the disposition of someone who gets paid to do what she loves. She still remembers her first visit to the Flathead. “I fell in love with it," she says. “It was like the valley where I lived in Alaska. I was 13 years old, and I told my parents, 'I'm going to live here one day.'"

Jackie Kecskes, cattle wranglerJackie Kecskes, cattle wrangler

She leads me past a century-old homestead and an abandoned apple orchard. The trail is redolent of horse dung, but we don't see the horses. Grout does spot a giant bighorn sheep through her binoculars on a ridge above us. “That's a world-class ram," she says. Four others filter out of the trees around it.

We finally drop back down to the shore through a glade of old ponderosas that smell of butterscotch. “This is where I was meant to be," Grout says. “I love the landscape and the people. Montanans, we're hardy. We'll do anything to help someone out. We can be very stubborn, but we love the place we live."

Back on the mainland, I rejoin my family to continue our caravan northward, past the strip malls of Kalispell and the lumber mill in Columbia Falls. In the town of Hungry Horse (population 757), we pull over at Willows' HuckleberryLand, a roadside gift shop that's said to serve the area's best huckleberry milkshake.

Inside, Buddy Willows himself is behind the counter, eating a buffalo burger. He's surrounded by shelves of huckleberry everything—honey, syrup, jam, barbecue sauce. “We use Montana huckleberries," he announces. “I'd say they have about 15 to 20 percent more twang." He hands me a copy of his self-published autobiography, The Wild and Crazy Buddy Willows. It's not a dull read.

“You get the beauty of a state like Colorado—the big mountains and the beautiful forested areas—but without the huge population. You don't feel crowded." —Jackie Kecskes

We leave with a lunch of huckleberry shakes and huckleberry pie—don't judge—and drive 10 miles to the entrance of Glacier National Park, where we all go quiet at the view of the peaks rising behind Lake McDonald. Two mule deer cross the road in front of us.

Soon, we're checking in at the Lake McDonald Lodge, a chalet on the north shore that was built as a hunting lodge in 1913. The lobby has a stone fireplace, cedar beams, and game animals mounted on the walls. Lampshades decorated with Native American pictographs hang from the ceiling. Outside, a colony of ground squirrels scurry and chirp. “People call them whistle pigs," a lodge employee tells me. “They own the property. We don't."

It's time to leave the family again, as I'm not sure the kids would enjoy my next adventure: a steep bike climb up the Going-to-the-Sun Road, on which the winter's 80-foot snowdrifts aren't fully cleared until midsummer. Tyler Schmittel, of Glacier Guides, arrives to accompany me. We get off to an awkward start when I ask him if the bearded man tattooed on his leg is Fidel Castro. “It's Edward Abbey," he replies. “The writer and conservationist."

On that note, we start pedaling. Schmittel recently cycled from Los Angeles to Guatemala City, so he's not at all out of breath as he reels off the names of the wildflowers we pass. The white trillium look like fallen stars on the forest floor.

The author in his beloved VW vanThe author in his beloved VW van

We climb and weave alongside McDonald Creek, which is an otherworldly shade of blue. “It gets that color from glacial silt," Schmittel says. We pass two piles of bear scat on the road. I notice my guide keeps a can of bear spray in his bike's water bottle holder.

We're surrounded by mountains, some of them giant domes of snow, others sheer rock faces that fall from their ridgelines like the cheek of an ax. We stop at Haystack Creek, a lovely spot a few miles from the pass. But looking around at what the Blackfeet call the Backbone of the World, it's hard not to feel sad. In the mid-1800s, there were about 150 glaciers here. Now there are 26. Some scientists project that within 15 years they will all be gone.

Later, back at the lodge, I meet up with my family, who spent the day walking the Trail of the Cedars. With a broad view of shimmering Lake McDonald, we dine on smoked Columbia River steelhead and tender local lamb smothered in a fennel demi-glaze. I wash mine down with a locally brewed Going to the Sun IPA, which only seems fitting.

As a woman plays “Edelweiss" on the piano, Theo passes out over his fruit plate. Salome informs Hilly and me that edelweiss is a white wildflower that grows in Switzerland. She's an uncommonly bright kid. Maybe someday she'll figure out what to do about the glaciers.

Day 3 Graphic

In which Jacob frustrates an intelligent horse, glamps on the Blackfoot River, and lands a memorable brown trout

After a huckleberry pancake breakfast (rich in antioxidants!), we decide there's time for a 5-mile hike to Avalanche Lake. Marsha, at the front desk, tells us a grizzly sow and two cubs were on the trail recently, so we pack bear spray, although we'll soon learn that Theo melting down over a lollipop is an equally effective deterrent.

The trail is well traveled. When I stop to take a picture of Theo and Salome in a hollowed-out tree, a lady walks by and says, “We have that same photo with our daughters, 20 years ago!"

At the lake, people eat granola bars and gawk at the enormous picture postcard in front of them. In the center of it all is a waterfall that begins at Sperry Glacier and crashes hundreds of feet down the mountain, too far away to be heard.

We have more driving to do. Back in Lizard King, we exit Glacier and follow the verdant Seeley Valley down the backside of the Mission Mountains. Two hours later, we enter another, wider valley, where we find The Resort at Paws Up, a dude ranch on the Blackfoot River. We check in and are led to the River Camp, where we'll spend the night in a canvas tent. Paws Up claims to have invented the term “glamping," and I wouldn't argue. We are met at the tent by two butlers, who look more like outdoor sportswear models than coat-and-tails types. One of them points out a bald eagle's nest overhead. We're also shown the pavilion, where we'll dine, and the fire pit, where we can toast gourmet s'mores afterward.

My first activity is a cattle drive. In a wide meadow, I meet wrangler Jackie Kecskes, resplendent in white leather chaps and with an elk-antler knife on her belt. She introduces me to my horse, a tall paint named Kid. We set off through the sagebrush with three other wranglers, and Kecskes talks me through the basics: A tap of the heels makes a horse walk; pulling the reins makes him stop; pressure on his right side makes him turn left, and vice versa.

“I always say, you work with a horse the way you work with a man," she says. “You know the outcome you want to achieve, but it has to be their idea, otherwise it won't stick." I recognize the principle from parenting.

Amy Grout, state park managerAmy Grout, state park manager

As we reach the cow pen, the animals look up as if to say, “Oh no, this again?" Kecskes swings open the gate, and I try to help the other wranglers herd the cows toward her. But I keep messing up my turn signals, applying pressure with the wrong foot. Kid is confused. Then he seems to realize I'm inept and takes the lead. Evidently, he knows the outcome he wants to achieve.

Kecskes developed a love for horses in California when her parents let her adopt a half-blind pony at age 5. She came to Montana via Colorado and never wants to leave. “I love the pace of things here," she says. “We still brand our cattle on horseback, and the local sheriff comes out because he's handy on a horse."

By now we've driven the cows to an open pasture. The wranglers teach me how to cut a cow from the herd, as real cowboys do. I find it's a lot like parallel parking, except the curb keeps moving to join the other curbs, and my car has lost respect for me. I manage it once or twice, and then we drive the cows back to the pen. It's not exactly Lonesome Dove, but I've got a little swagger as Kid walks me back to the stable.

“I've stopped to help people fix a flat on the side of the road, and they'll try to pay me. I say, 'No. This is who we are in Montana. This is what we do.'" —Amy Grout

We have some time before my next activity, so I watch the kids while Hilly—who, let's not forget, gave birth three weeks ago—gets a massage. She does this at Spa Town, a row of white tents on the forest's edge that looks like a place a soldier might have convalesced after a Civil War battle (or where a mother might convalesce after a postpartum road trip with three children). As the masseuse kneads the knots from her back, she listens to a whistle pig nibble on the tent. There's no escaping nature out here—it's an immersive experience.

With Hilly suitably relaxed, I head out for some fly fishing with Jason Much, a friendly Midwesterner with a man-bun and Muck Boots. Much came out to Montana six years ago to fish for fun, and now he makes a living doing it. “The rivers brought me here, and I think they're keeping me here," he says as we drive to the boat launch.

The Blackfoot is running high with snowmelt, and I don't expect great fishing. But Much knows a few slower spots. He hands me a rod rigged with a big streamer and pushes off the raft. Now and then, he offers guidance. “Try in that slack water," he says, or, “That's brown town in there!"

A cattle wrangler at Paws UpA cattle wrangler at Paws Up

He's right. Suddenly there's a tug on the line and a swirl of yellow. I've fished long enough to know that it's a big brown trout. Slowly, I work it toward the boat, and Much slides his net underneath. And then he lifts from the water one of the finest fish I have ever seen. It's a golden slab of a trout, with black spots and a hooked jaw. Its tail is reddish and the size of my palm. I ease the hook from its mouth and it swims powerfully away. Much lets out an open-mouthed laugh.

Around the corner we see a pair of geese with goslings and a sandhill crane stepping through the reeds. Much is explaining his theory of the philosophical progression of fly fishing. First, you just want to catch a fish on a fly. Then, you want lots of fish. After a while, you want to catch the biggest fish. “The final stage," he says, “is when you want to catch the most difficult. That's when you start to see the soul in a fish."

We're in fast water now, aloft on the waves as swallows hawk
mayflies over our heads. We fall silent, and the only noise is the creak of the oarlocks, the rushing water, and the clap of ducks taking flight. Tall ponderosas lean toward the river from both banks like crossed swords at a naval wedding. In places, a cliff rises from the water, the rocks mottled with lichen in shades of purple, orange,
and gray. The sky gets all the credit, but everything's bigger in Montana—the mountains, the trout, the sheer sense of being.

Our tent is a mile downstream. There will be a cold beer there, and a fire. We'll eat dinner outside, and afterward we'll climb
into heated beds within earshot of the river.

“Did you catch anything?" Hilly will ask.

“Yes," I'll say. “I did."

Missoula-based writer Jacob Baynham likes to compare owning a VW van to owning a boat, although his wife reminds him that he has never owned either.

United Plans Largest Transatlantic Expansion in its History, Including 10 New Flights and Five New Destinations Debuting Summer 2022

Airline sets course to destinations not served by any other North American carrier in Amman, Jordan; Azores, Portugal; Bergen, Norway; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Tenerife, Spain
By United Newsroom, October 14, 2021

CHICAGO, Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United today announced the largest transatlantic expansion in its history, including 10 new flights and five new, vogue destinations – Amman, Jordan; Bergen, Norway; Azores, Portugal; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands. All of the new routes – which are set to begin in Spring 2022 – are not served by any other North American carrier. Additionally, next year, United will add new flights to five popular European destinations: Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Munich and Rome. Lastly, United will launch seven routes that were interrupted due to the pandemic to Bangalore, Frankfurt, Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Nice and Zurich. Flights are subject to government approval.

"Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways," said Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United. "Our expansion offers the widest range of destinations to discover – introducing new, trendy locales that our customers will love, as well as adding more flights to iconic, popular cities."

Amman, Jordan

United will begin new capital to capital service between Washington, D.C. and Amman, Jordan starting May 5. Customers will be able to explore the numerous historical sites in and around Amman, as well as visit Jordan's other top destinations including Petra, the Dead Sea and the Wadi Rum desert. United will be the only North American carrier flying direct to Amman with service three times weekly with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal

United will add a third Portuguese destination to its global network with brand new flights between New York/Newark and Ponta Delgada in the Azores beginning May 13. The carrier will offer the most flights between the U.S. and Portugal of any North American airline and will be the only airline to fly to the Azores from the New York metro area. This daily service joins United's existing flights to Porto, which will return in March, and Lisbon, which the airline is currently operating from New York/Newark and will resume from Washington, D.C. next summer. United will fly a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft featuring United's new signature interior with enhanced seat back entertainment with Bluetooth connectivity and overhead bin space for every customer.

Bergen, Norway

Beginning May 20, United will become the only U.S. carrier to fly to Norway with flights launching between New York/Newark and Bergen. United will offer three times weekly service on a Boeing 757-200, allowing customers to experience Bergen's surrounding mountainous landscape and breathtaking fjords. United will be the only carrier to fly to Bergen from the U.S.

Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

United is expanding its Spanish beach getaway destinations with three times weekly flights between New York/Newark and Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, launching June 2 with a Boeing 767-300ER. This will be the first and only flight between the U.S. and Mallorca and will add to United's existing service to Madrid and Barcelona.

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Travelers looking for an additional new beach destination can enjoy the stunning black and white sand beaches of Spain's Canary Islands with United's new flight from New York/Newark to Tenerife. United will be the only airline to fly direct between the Canary Islands and North America with three-times weekly service launching June 9 with a Boeing 757-200. Along with the new service to Palma de Mallorca, United will fly to more Spanish destinations from North America than any other airline.

Expanded European Service

United is also adding flights to some of Europe's most iconic cities in anticipation of a resurgence in visitors. Next spring United will add:

  • New daily flights between Denver and Munich – joining existing service from Denver to Frankfurt and London which is expected to resume in March. United is the only U.S. airline to offer transatlantic service from Denver.
  • New daily flights between Chicago and Milan, joining existing seasonal flights between Chicago and Rome. United will be the only airline to offer a direct flight between Chicago and Milan, adding to its existing service between New York/Newark and Milan.
  • New daily capital to capital service between Washington, D.C. and Berlin, joining our other service to Berlin from New York/Newark. United is the only U.S. airline with direct flights to Berlin.
  • An additional daily flight from New York/Newark to Dublin and Rome.

In addition to these new routes, United will begin seven routes that were interrupted by the pandemic:

  • Daily flights between San Francisco and Bangalore beginning May 26
  • Daily flights between New York/Newark and Nice beginning April 29
  • A second daily flight between New York/Newark and Frankfurt beginning April 23
  • Daily flights between Chicago and Zurich beginning April 23
  • Flights from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York/Newark to Tokyo's Haneda airport by March 26

Committed to Ensuring a Safe Journey

United is committed to putting health and safety at the forefront of every customer's journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness through its United CleanPlusSM program. United has teamed up with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to redefine cleaning and health safety procedures from check-in to landing and has implemented more than a dozen new policies, protocols and innovations designed with the safety of customers and employees in mind. To manage entry requirements in different destinations, and find places to get tests, customer can visit United's Travel Ready Center.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website. 
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to  purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, 872.825.8640, media.relations@united.com

United Announces Promotions and Leadership Changes in Network Planning and Procurement

United promotes Ankit Gupta to SVP of Domestic Planning and United Express, Patrick Quayle to SVP International Network and Alliances
By United Newsroom, October 11, 2021

CHICAGO, Oct. 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced the promotion of Ankit Gupta to Senior Vice President of Domestic Planning and United Express, and Patrick Quayle to Senior Vice President International Network and Alliances. Both Gupta and Quayle will continue to report directly to Andrew Nocella, United's Chief Commercial Officer.

In addition to these promotions, United also named former United Express Senior Vice President Sarah Murphy to lead the airline's new Global Sourcing organization as Senior Vice President of Global Sourcing and Chief Procurement Officer. Murphy will now report to Gerry Laderman, United's Chief Financial Officer.

Ankit Gupta

"As we work to deliver the best customer experience in North America with a dramatic increase in premium seats, Ankit's leadership in developing the United Next vision has us poised to exceed our customers' expectations as we meet the resurgence in air travel," said Nocella. "He has helped us execute network strategies that would ordinarily take years to develop in a matter of months. And as we play an ongoing and key role in the U.S. economic recovery, we will continue to shape our domestic network with a fleet that spans the CRJ-550 to cutting-edge mainline narrowbody aircraft."

Gupta, formerly Vice President of Network Planning and Scheduling, will now assume responsibility for the operation and strategy of the United Express network in addition to leading the domestic planning team. By linking the United Express operation more closely with the airline's domestic planning team, United expects to better optimize its network and deliver a better, more consistent experience with the products and services it offers.

Patrick Quayle

"Patrick continues to be instrumental in enhancing the alliances that benefit both United and our partners by helping us reach destinations each carrier is unable to serve with its fleet alone," said Nocella. "He led the design and interior configuration for more than 1,000 of our aircraft, including United Polaris, United Premium Plus and our high-premium Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and continues to reshape our network in the midst of a radically different demand environment, making the most of rapidly changing economic and passenger trends."

Quayle, also a former Vice President on United's network planning team, played a key role for the airline through the pandemic, leading the airline from just 10 daily international flights in early 2020 to now becoming the flag carrier of the U.S. as the largest international carrier in the country, with the largest trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific networks, as well as holding the position as the number one carrier to Central America.

Sarah Murphy

As the new leader of the Global Sourcing team, Murphy will leverage her experience leading teams in United's finance and operating groups and will build upon the procurement team's track record of success in driving efficiencies among the airline's vendors and suppliers to deliver for United's employees, customers and the communities it serves.

"With Sarah's extensive operating and capital budget expertise, and her deep knowledge of our operations, she is uniquely positioned to enhance our ability to source the goods and services we need in order to transform the customer experience and change the way people think about United while protecting the company's bottom line," said Laderman.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website. 
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to  purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

 

 

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com

United Plans Largest Domestic Schedule Since March 2020

December schedule includes new connections between the Midwest and warm weather cities like Las Vegas and Orlando as well as nearly 70 daily flights to ski destinations, including new service between Orange County and Aspen
By United Newsroom, October 07, 2021

CHICAGO, Oct. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United today announced that it will fly its biggest domestic schedule since the start of the pandemic to meet an expected surge in holiday travel, with an emphasis on connecting the Midwest to warm weather cities like Las Vegas and Orlando as well as offering nearly 70 daily flights to ski destinations, including new service between Orange County and Aspen.

According to United, holiday travel flight searches on united.com and the airline's app are up 16%, compared to 2019. The airline expects the busiest travel days for the Thanksgiving holiday will be Wednesday, November 24 and Sunday, November 28, while popular days for winter holiday travel are expected to be Thursday, December 23 and Sunday, January 2.

The airline plans to offer more than 3,500 daily domestic flights in December, representing 91% of its domestic capacity compared to 2019.

"We're seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow," said Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning and scheduling at United. "We know families and friends are eager to reunite this holiday season, which is why we're thrilled to add new flights that will help them connect and celebrate together."

In December, United will begin new direct flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix from Cleveland, and to Orlando from Indianapolis. The carrier also will resume eight popular direct flights from Midwest cities, including routes to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando and Tampa, offering the most mainline departures the airline has flown from Cleveland since 2014 including direct service to Nassau and Cancun. United will offer up to 195 daily flights to 12 destinations in Florida this winter, the most flights to the Sunshine State in company history. United is also resuming direct flights from Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh to Fort Myers – which were some of the airline's most popular point-to-point flights last winter.

Customers who prefer fresh powder can enjoy more flights to ski destinations with United than any other carrier. The airline offers 66 daily flights to over a dozen ski destinations across the U.S., including brand new service beginning this December between Orange County and Aspen. This winter season, United will have flights to Aspen/Snowmass, Bishop/Mammoth, Bozeman/Big Sky, Eagle/Vail, Kalispell, Gunnison/Crested Butte, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Jackson Hole, Montrose/Telluride, Reno/Tahoe, Sun Valley from its hub airports.

Earlier this year, United announced that it will add 150 flights to warm-weather destinations this winter season. All of these flights and more are available now on united.com and United's mobile app.

Committed to Ensuring a Safe Journey

United is committed to putting health and safety at the forefront of every customer's journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness through its United CleanPlus℠ program. United has teamed up with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to redefine cleaning and health safety procedures from check-in to landing and has implemented more than a dozen new policies, protocols and innovations designed with the safety of customers and employees in mind. Customers can review COVID-19 entry requirements, find local testing options and upload any required testing and vaccination records for domestic and international travel, all in United's Travel Ready Center. United was the first airline to integrate all these features into its mobile app and website.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website.
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com

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