Tricked-out 747 - United Hub
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Tricked-out 747s

By The Hub team, November 09, 2017

Since its debut in 1969, the Boeing 747 has been called upon for its fair share of special missions, from carrying U.S. presidents to fighting forests fires. Here, a look at five of the coolest modifications in the jumbo jet's history.

Air Force One

Perhaps the most famous airplanes in the world, the "Flying Oval Office" is actually a pair of specifically modified, sel-sufficient Boeing 747-200Bs (or VC-25s in Air Force terminology) that use the call sign "Air Force One" when the sitting U.S. president is on board. The planes have 4,000 square feet of interior floor space and such special features as air-to-air refueling, a medical operating room, and other classified perks. The current planes were delivered in 1990, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, and are expected to be replaced soon with updated 747-8i models.

Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

Boeing created the hulking 747 Dreamlifter cargo plane for a very specific purpose: to haul 787 parts that were too massive for other forms of transportation to its production facilities in Washington state. The modified 747-400 features a bulging midsection that has earned it comparisons to the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, and, at 65,000 cubic feet, its enormous cargo is the world's largest by volume.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

A modified United 747SP was transformed into SOFIA, a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (or DLR) designed to carry the world's only flying infrared astronomy laboratory on missions that can take place only at altitudes of about 41,000 feet. The airplane's body features an enormous door that can be opened mid-flight to allow its infrared telescope access to the sky.

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA)

U.S. presidents aren't the only high-profile cargo carried by the 747. NASA employed a pair of modified 747-100s to transport space shuttles from their landing sites back to Kennedy Space Center, as well as on numerous test flights. The aircraft's range was reduced to a mere 1,000 nautical miles due to the dramatically increased payload of the space shuttle, which is mounted atop the the plane, piggyback-style.

Evergreen 747 Supertanker

The world's largest firefighting plane debuted in 2009 in the shell of a 747-100 and is capable of dropping nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant or water on large fires. An updated version, flying under the name Global Supertanker and built on a 747-400 frame, was used for the first time in the U.S. this summer to fight a Northern California wildfire.

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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