From the Jungle to the Sky - United Hub

From the jungle to the sky

By Matt Adams, June 16, 2017

On June 15, we celebrated 25 years of service to Quito, Ecuador. During that time, our routes connecting Ecuador's capital city have played a vital role in the region, but, for Houston-based First Officer Tim Johnson, United's presence there carries even more significance.

United employee, Tim Johnson in Quito

Tim is probably one of only a few Ecuadorian Johnsons that you'll meet. Born and raised in the rural jungle town of Shell, five hours south of Quito, his parents were missionaries from the U.S. and Canada. It was a unique childhood, one that shaped a distinctive cultural identity within him and a deep appreciation for where he grew up.

"The country is so beautiful," Tim said. "You have the Costa Region (on the Pacific coast); the Sierra Region where the Andes Mountains are; the Oriente (Eastern) Region where the jungles lie; and the Islas Region, which includes the Galapagos Islands. As small as Ecuador is, it really has every kind of thing to offer."

In his youth, Tim filled his days by trekking across the countryside, fishing and swimming in the headwaters of the Amazon River (while keeping one eye open for piranhas) and taking in Ecuador's natural wonders.

United pilot, Tim Johnson as a kid in Quito.

He got his first taste of flying while living in Shell, when he worked out a sweet deal at a small airstrip near his house. "In sixth and seventh grade, I would make brake shoes and groove tires for the aircraft in exchange for Coca-Cola," he said. "I would go over there for about two hours every day, do my work, drink my Coke and go home. And sometimes the pilots would take me up with them."

After completing the eighth grade, Tim moved to Quito for high school, which is when the allure of flying really took hold. "Our campus was right next to the airport, so I would watch the planes flying over and think how cool it would be to do that."

College brought Tim to the U.S. to pursue an avionics degree, but it wasn't easy being away from the place he loved. "Though I knew I had the privilege of going to the U.S., and I appreciated it, my heart was in Ecuador. My first year away at college, I missed it so badly. But I had one goal: become a pilot so that I could fly there. I knew I had to stick it out."

Aerial view of Quito

A few years later he got his chance, going for a pilot position in Houston. "During my interview, they asked why I wanted to work there, and I told them, 'Because you fly to Quito.'" said Tim. "That's the whole reason I'm here."

He still flies to Quito regularly, stopping to visit old friends and see the sights. Though he lives in Houston with his wife Mindy (a United flight attendant) and their children, Tim's soul has never strayed from the place he calls home.

"Everyone at the base knows when I've just gotten back from a trip to Quito, because I'll be in the pilot's office with a big smile on my face," he said. "There are a lot of cool places in the world, but I just want to fly south."

United Airlines Plans to Begin Flights Between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria in November

United to operate the first ever nonstop flight between Washington, D.C. and Lagos and offer more flights between D.C. and Africa than any other carrier
By United Newsroom, September 17, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines announced today that new service between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria will begin November 29 (subject to government approval). The airline will operate three weekly flights connecting the U.S. capital to Nigeria's largest city, which is also the top Western African destination for U.S-based travelers. Tickets will be available for sale on and the United app this weekend.

"This new flight to Lagos has been highly anticipated by our customers and offers the first ever nonstop service between Washington, D.C. and Nigeria, as well as convenient, one-stop connections to over 80 destinations throughout the Americas including Houston and Chicago," said Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of international network and alliances. "On behalf of all of United we'd like to offer our sincere thanks to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and U.S. Department of Transportation for supporting our plans to provide this service."

"We are honored to work with our partners at United Airlines to welcome their second nonstop connection from Dulles International to the African continent," said Carl Schultz, acting vice president of airline business development at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. "Lagos joins nearly 50 other nonstop international destinations currently served by the National Capital Region's gateway to the world."

United will operate this route with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner featuring 28 United Polaris® business class lie-flat seats, 21 United Premium Plus® premium economy seats, 36 Economy Plus® seats and 158 standard economy seats. This flight is the only service between the U.S. and Nigeria to offer premium economy product. Flights will depart Washington, D.C. on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and return from Lagos on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

This new flight builds on United's expansion into Africa and solidifies United's leadership position to Africa from the D.C. metro area, with more flights to the continent than any other airline. Just this year, United launched new service between New York/Newark and Johannesburg, South Africa and between Washington, D.C. and Accra, Ghana. And this December and January, United will increase its service to Accra from three weekly flights to daily* as customers travel home for the winter holidays. United is also returning its popular service between New York/Newark and Cape Town, South Africa on December 1.

United's new flights comply with each country's COVID-19 protocols and customers should check destination requirements before traveling.

Making International Travel Easier

United is the only U.S. airline to offer its own one-stop-shop where customers can conveniently get "travel-ready" by finding a location to schedule a COVID-19 test as well as upload and store their test results and vaccination records directly through the airline's website and award-winning mobile app with the Travel-Ready Center. The airline's easy-to-use travel tool available on United's mobile app enables customers to reduce stress and save valuable time at the airport right from the palm of their hand. United also announced a collaboration with Abbott and became the first U.S. carrier to set up an easy way for international travelers to bring a CDC-approved test with them, self-administer while abroad, and return home.

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 and more information about the company is at United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

*daily flights to Accra this winter are subject to government approval


SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640,

United, Honeywell Invest in New Clean Tech Venture from Alder Fuels, Powering Biggest Sustainable Fuel Agreement in Aviation History

United agrees to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over 20 years - which is one and a half times the size of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced SAF commitments combined
By United Newsroom, September 09, 2021

CHICAGO and DES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United and Honeywell today announced a joint multimillion-dollar investment in Alder Fuels – a cleantech company that is pioneering first-of-its-kind technologies for producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at scale by converting abundant biomass, such as forest and crop waste, into sustainable low-carbon, drop-in replacement crude oil that can be used to produce aviation fuel. When used together across the fuel lifecycle, the Alder technologies, coupled with Honeywell's Ecofining™ process, could have the ability to produce a carbon-negative fuel at spec with today's jet fuel. The goal of the technologies is to produce fuel that is a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum jet fuel.

United Airlines to Present at the 14th Annual Cowen Global Transportation & Sustainable Mobility Conference

By United Newsroom, September 01, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United (NASDAQ:UAL) will present at the 14th Annual Cowen Global Transportation & Sustainable Mobility Conference on Thursday, September 9. The presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m. CT / 11:30 a.m. ET.

Scroll to top