The 747's final tour of duty - United Hub
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The 747's final tour of duty

By Matt Adams, November 01, 2017

United ramp serviceman Tryg Farestad watched through his cabin window as Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, in Craven County, North Carolina, came into view below him. This Boeing 747 on which he was a passenger had dropped below the cloud line as it made its final descent, and Farestad craned his neck for a better look at the base. Much had changed in the decades since he called it home, but the memories still loomed large in his life and career.

The aircraft touched down on the runway at Cherry Point and taxied to a stop. As Farestad and the rest of the crew offloaded, a crowd of Marines stared up at the massive jet that would be their last taste of home before they embarked upon a nine-month tour of duty on foreign soil.

Tryg Farestad (right) with colleagues

Fifty years ago, Farestad stood in the exact same spot as those men and women. He was a Marine during the Vietnam War and was stationed at Cherry Point after returning from Asia. Standing on the other side as part of the group of United employees who now support the airline's U.S. military charters, Farestad scanned the crowd and knew exactly what each soldier was feeling" the same mix of nerves and anticipation that he had experienced as he prepared to take off for Da Nang in 1967.

"Most of them are so young and so gung-ho, but they don't know what to expect," Farestad says. "When they find out I was in the service, especially having been in Vietnam, they have a million questions. It does me good to talk with them, and I hope it does them good to talk to an old G.I."

Since World War II, United has been proud of its role in transporting troops across the globe. Thanks to its size and cargo capacity, the 747 has been a particularly useful tool for moving U.S. armed forces. Of the hundreds of military charter flights United has operated in the past year, roughly 60 percent have been served by 747s.

Like the 747, Farestad joined United in 1970 and has been a workhorse for the airline ever since. A Jersey farmboy, he has spent most of his career in Philadelphia working in a variety of roles, from aircraft load planning and ramp services to refueling operations. That breadth of experience has made him a valuable addition to the charters team.

"We fly into areas where United doesn't have a presence, so we need to know how to do everything when we're in the field," he says. "We load an unload the aircraft, refuel it, make sure everything is set for the flight crew and catering – anything you could think of. No two days are the same."

When the last military-chartered 747 completed its mission in October, it signaled the end of an era that will be missed by the small but dedicated group of employees like Farestad who have supported that subsection of United's business.

"It was one of the nicest airplanes you could fly on," he says. "The soldiers loved the size of it, and I always enjoyed giving them tours. Some of them couldn't believe it when they saw the second deck, the fact that you had to take a staircase up to your seat."

Just like selling your first car or moving away from home, it's the people, experiences, and conversations for which the 747 was the setting that Farestad will truly miss – particularly the encouragement his unique background qualified him to offer.

"When we were in flight, I would circulate around the cabin and talk with the G.Is," he says. "The experiences they have will open their eyes to the rest of the world. Travel has that effect on everyone, and we've been fortunate to be part of that here."

Celebrating immigration perspectives and diverse journeys

By The Hub team, September 25, 2020

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the U.S. celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, a chance to pay tribute to the history, culture and contributions that generations of Latinxs have paved to enrich U.S. history. It is also a reminder to celebrate our differences and spark difficult, yet important, conversations.

To kick off the month, UNITE, our multicultural business resource group for employees, did just that by hosting a panel discussion about the immigrant experience and what it means to be an immigrant in the U.S.

United Litigation and Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, who is a pro bono immigration attorney, moderated the panel, and was joined by Ashley Huebner, Associate Director of Legal Services at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Magdalena Gonzalez, Program Manager, Leadership Development Programs at Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement. The three women shared their insights and personal stories, while addressing some misconceptions and highlighting the contributions of immigrants to our company and country.

Participants' headshots from United's Hispanic Heritage Month Panel From left to right, Elizabeth Lopez, Ashely Huebner and Magdalena Gonzalez

"I started to notice that there were things I was scared of doing, that I needed to be cautious," said Magdalena while sharing her personal experience as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. "My friends, who a majority of them are citizens, did not need to worry about that. As I was able to see that, I realized that, 'oh, there's so many things that revolve around not just being a DACA recipient but revolve around being a person with an undocumented status here in the United States.'"

United maintains a close relationship with the NIJC. In May of 2019, United co-hosted an asylum clinic put on by the legal services organization, where several attorneys and legal professionals were trained on representing asylum-seeking applicants. At the end of the clinic, members of our legal department were assigned an asylum case through the NIJC.

Litigation Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, Commercial Transactions Counsel Tiffany Jaspers, Global Compliance and Ethics Counsel Nancy Jacobson and Employment Litigation Senior Manager Dorothy Karpierz were partnered with attorneys from the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery to take on an immigration case of a mother of three from Honduras. Recently, after a years-long court battle, the legal team was victorious, changing the life of the woman and her family.

United is committed to connecting people and uniting the world. Whether you're an immigrant, a child of immigrants or simply want to learn more about the immigrant experience in the U.S., discussions like these, related to this hot-button issue, are important to have in order to understand the human lives behind it.

Make your voice heard

By Brett J. Hart, September 22, 2020

Your voice matters. Voting is one of the most influential civic activities we can engage in as Americans. At United, our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. That's why we've long provided our employees with resources to help them get registered to vote.

This year, we're taking our support a step further as the official airline of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Since the start of the pandemic, we've overhauled our cleaning measures through a program we call United CleanPlusSM , and the CPD has placed their trust in United to fly Commission production staff to each of the four debates, starting with the first one on September 29, hosted by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

Today, on National Voter Registration Day, we also want to make sure our customers have access to information about how to participate in the 2020 Election. Over the past several months, you've heard a lot from us about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed air travel. We've learned that with some planning and extra effort, it's still possible — and safe. That's true of voting, too.

No matter which party you support or how you're planning to vote, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and make a plan to vote.

Best,

Brett J. Hart
President
United Airlines

United named to Year Up Opportunity Hall of Fame

By The Hub team, September 17, 2020

Since its launch 20 years ago, Year Up, one of our critical needs grant recipients, has helped more than 10,000 young adults gain access to corporate business and technical experience at large companies like United while offering the invaluable perspectives they bring with them.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit inducted United into its Opportunity Hall of Fame – a selection that occurs once every five years.

Year Up's mission is to help close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Since 2018, our partnership has allowed talented student learners the opportunity to gain corporate business experience and technical skill training at the airline while bringing their unique perspectives to our United family and culture. One of those students is Emily Lopez, who graduated from the Year Up program in January 2019 and was hired to be part of the United family as an analyst in Revenue Management.

"I moved from Venezuela to the United States in July 2016 and being a young immigrant with no resources can be difficult to pursue a career in a new country," said Emily.

After learning about Year Up and ultimately being accepted into the program, Emily landed an internship with United, an opportunity she is very grateful for.

Emily Lopez - Analyst, Pricing & Revenue Management

"Feedback from my mentors, coaches and managers was key during my internship phase and helped me convert my internship at United to a full-time position. I am grateful for the opportunity United has provided me and my Year Up Alumni colleagues to keep building a professional career within the company. I am so excited to continue building a professional career with the company and to see United being inducted to Year Up's Hall of Fame. Let's continue closing the opportunity divide!" said Emily.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has made this year's partnership a bit more difficult, we continue to do our part to support the Year Up student learners. Last month, we surprised 145 graduates of this year's Year Up Chicago program with roundtrip tickets to pursue career and networking opportunities within the United States.

"I've been personally honored and inspired to be an advocate for Year Up since I joined United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "This program gives young people from challenged backgrounds an opportunity to get their foot in the door as interns at United. This year's graduates are entering a challenging job landscape, but we have one thing that can help: a route network that provides easy access to major business markets across the United States."

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