United Airlines: Now playing in a city near you - United Hub

United Airlines: Now playing in a city near you

By Janet Lamkin, September 26, 2019

When I came to United two years ago, I came here knowing that I had the opportunity to be part of an exciting new chapter in this airline's history.

United had already begun focusing more than ever on customer needs and on what our CEO Oscar Munoz called "de-stressing the travel experience." There was a sense that we were going to change the airline industry, and I couldn't wait to do my part, particularly for our customers here in California.

As United's California president, my team and I are responsible for making sure that United stays connected to the needs and values of the customers here. And it's more than flying people from point A to point B. It's also using our collective voice to advocate for things like diversity and inclusion in the workplace and doing things like reducing our carbon footprint for the future of our planet. It also means helping strengthen our underserved communities.

I was raised in Stockton, a place that, though I left it, has never left me. People often don't realize that the Central Valley is almost like a state within a state – an enormous area with a significant population, a rich culture, its own economy and its own unique needs that sometimes get overlooked in favor of the larger coastal cities.

So, when I arrived at United two years ago, I asked, "What do customers here need?" The simple answer was: connectivity and convenience. For too long, places like Stockton, Bakersfield and Fresno were virtually ignored by major airlines. If you lived in Redding, for instance, and you wanted to visit Beijing, you had to drive all the way to San Francisco. Who wants to do that before boarding a 12-hour flight?

With that in mind, my team and I have worked closely with United's Network Planning group over the past couple of years, building off of their expansion strategy for California. Our guiding principle was that the people who live in smaller cities deserve the same opportunities to easily fly where they want to, just like the people who live in the bigger metropolises. From Stockton alone, we can now connect local customers to more than 60 domestic and international destinations via LAX, which is something I'm thrilled to say.

We also recognized that people in other parts of the state and the country also want to visit smaller cities in California, and they want to do business in those places. Again, Stockton is a terrific example of that. A L.A.-based tech company recently opened a satellite data center there due, in part, to United's flights between Stockton Metropolitan Airport and LAX. It's worth noting that we are the only airline offering this service, so I like to think we contributed in a small way to that important economic boon for the city.

Being from Stockton, you can imagine how proud that makes me feel. When I spoke at the Inland California Rising Summit last week, I expressed that pride and reiterated how important our community is to United. But Stockton is not alone in that respect.

Our airline now serves more destinations in California than any other carrier. That is by design. Our Los Angeles and San Francisco hubs are integral to United's success, but we want to be California's hometown airline, and that extends to the towns beyond the Bay Area and greater L.A.

United has placed me in a unique position to help make that a reality, and I couldn't be more excited about how we're expanding, particularly in the Central Valley. Not only can we fly these customers to amazing destinations, we can fuel economic expansion and other opportunities where they live. When that happens, it's a win-win.

Whether it be technology, entertainment or agriculture, California is always looking for the next big thing. We're no different at United, only in the case of California, the smaller cities are the next big thing. Wherever our customers are, that's where we'll be.

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