An Ace in the Community - United Hub

Xavier Samuels inspires the next generation of aviators

By Matt Adams, February 05, 2018

In honor of Black History Month, each week we will profile an employee who is helping to break barriers. Follow along throughout the month of February for these extraordinary stories of perseverance.

Crediting the men and women who blazed the trail on which he now walks, Houston-based First Officer Xavier Samuels says he never worried that being an African American would keep him out of the flight deck, and for years, he's done his part to show the next generation that anything is possible for them, too.

It was in the early 1990s, when Xavier was a young U.S. Navy officer stationed in Pensacola, Florida, that he first noticed senior officers taking part in a local ACE Academy. ACE, which stands for Aviation Career Education, is an annual weeklong summer program sponsored by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) that introduces junior high and high school students to aviation-related fields.

Xavier was impressed by what he saw. From that day forward, he resolved to give back in similar ways, beginning by visiting schools and speaking on the importance of education and perseverance in the face of adversity and discrimination.

When he joined United in 2005, he brought that passion for the community with him, and in 2011, Xavier helped found Houston's first ACE Academy, one of nearly 30 currently operating around the country.

"Our first stop each year is IAH so the students can tour the airport and see what goes on behinds the scenes," Xavier said, describing the ACE Academy curriculum. "They meet customer service representatives, maintenance techs and ramp service employees. Some have never been to an airport, so they see a world they didn't know existed."

The week concludes with the students going up one by one in a Cessna for a discovery flight, during which each gets to take the controls for a few minutes and experience the thrill of piloting an aircraft.

Since its inaugural year, more than 100 students have passed through the Houston ACE Academy, over half of whom remain in touch with Xavier and his fellow academy leaders. Several are now in college pursuing aviation careers. Some have even followed Xavier's path into the military and to his alma mater, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, of which he is particularly proud.

And Xavier still visits classrooms, now as part of the "Pilots and Professionals in Schools" program in Houston, helping expose students to a wide variety of career choices.

"When I go to the schools, I'll have the uniform on," Xavier said. "Some of the kids are impressed, and it's a cool feeling. With the situations that some of them are growing up in, aspiring to [achieve] their goals might seem almost impossible. We tell them, whatever your preconceived notions were before, put that stuff out of your mind, because you're talking to someone who's done it and who isn't any smarter or more advantaged than you are. If you really want it, you can achieve it.

"This is what I'm supposed to do," he continued. "I've been so blessed to live my dream, so it's part of my purpose to help show these students that it's doable."

United's regional presidents join respective Governor's COVID-19 task force

By Ryan Wilks, May 21, 2020

As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.

A message from Scott Kirby, United’s new CEO

By The Hub team, May 20, 2020


Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.

While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.

First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.

As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.

Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.

We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.

But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.

Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.

Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.

While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.

Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.

Making every step of the travel journey safer for you

By United Airlines, April 22, 2020
United Clean Plus | Clorox

We remain passionate about connecting the world safely

United CleanPlus SM is our commitment to putting health and safety at the forefront of your journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness. We're teaming up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures, and over the coming months, we'll roll out Clorox products across our U.S. airports, starting in select locations, to help support a healthy and safe environment throughout your travel experience.

At the airport

  • At check-in:

  • 1
    Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
  • 2
    Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
  • 3
    Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
  • 4
    Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
  • 5
    Introducing touchless check-in for customers with bags
  • At the gate:

  • 6
    Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
  • 7
    Providing hand sanitizer and
    disinfectant wipes
  • 8
    Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
  • 9
    Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing

On our aircraft

  • 1
    Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
  • 2
    Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
  • 3
    Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
  • 4
    Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
  • 5
    Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
  • 6
    Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
  • 7
    Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
    • Limiting middle seat selection
    • Moving customers seated closely together
    • De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
  • 8
    Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
  • 9
    Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles

Cleveland Clinic We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.

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