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."

How to change your flight, or cancel and rebook later

By The Hub team , April 04, 2020

We know people are taking a second look at their travel plans right now. If you're scheduled to travel March 10 – May 31, 2020 and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. This is in addition to our previous waiver, which waives all change fees – domestic and international – for tickets purchased March 3 – April 30, 2020. This is available for any of United's published nonrefundable fares. If you decide to cancel your flight, you can retain the value of your ticket to be applied to a new ticket without a fee. These electronic travel certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020. You might not see this policy change reflected everywhere right away – we appreciate your patience as we work to make that happen.

Eligible travelers on domestic flights and international tickets can request a refund on or may call our contact centers if their flights have been severely adjusted or service to their destination suspended either due to government mandates or United schedule reductions related to COVID-19.

Certain tickets cannot be changed on or the mobile app, including tickets booked through another airline (if the ticket receipt does not begin with 016). Please contact the original ticketing airline for changes.

Follow the steps below to stay up to date, change or cancel your flight.

Change your current flight:

  1. On the homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
  2. Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
    • Date of travel or destination
    • Add a flight
    • Remove a flight
  3. Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
  4. Continue through booking to confirm your new flight

Note: The change fee will display as waived, but any difference in fare may apply.

Cancel your flight and rebook later:

  1. On the homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
  2. Select "Cancel flight"
  3. Confirm flight cancellation
  4. If you have future flight credit, when you return to the reservation, select "Use Future Flight Credit" to shop for new flights and apply the credit towards a new flight.

Canceling or changing an award flight:

When you select "Cancel flight," you will have the option to cancel your award reservation and redeposit the miles or to cancel your award reservation and use those miles for another trip in the future.

*We're currently experiencing heavy traffic to If you experience an error while trying to change or cancel your flight, please try again later.

Click through the slideshow below for more detailed instructions:

​Start on the United homepage: ​

User can select 'My Trips' on the homepage widget to find and retrieve their reservation.

  • If you're not signed in or you're a guest user, enter your confirmation number and last name.
  • If you are signed in, you can select a trip from your current trips or select the 'Find another trip' link.

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team , April 03, 2020

When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.

We have operated more than 68 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 9,200 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.

Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.

Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Roatan, Honduras
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Melbourne, Australia

We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

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, a video conferencing tool 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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.

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