It’s official – we announce Golden State Warriors relationship
On October 20 we proudly announced the start of a multi-year relationship with the Golden State Warriors as the team's official airline. With its recent success, record-breaking win totals and high-profile player signings, the Warriors occupy a rarified spot at the top of the NBA; but what they do off the court is equally impressive.
Both United and the Warriors share a common cause, each providing long-standing support to the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco. During a joint event to celebrate the new sponsorship with Golden State, United announced a separate contribution of $60,000 in travel benefits to Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco's basketball development team, the Rebels, and its Keystone youth leadership club.
We caught up with former Warriors great and current community ambassador Adonal Foyle, to talk about his passion for helping others, something that has guided his life's mission since before his playing days.
Adonal grew up in the small Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and moved to the United States when he was in high school. After an outstanding college hoops career at Colgate University, Adonal was drafted eighth overall by the Warriors in the 1997 NBA Draft. Five seasons into his NBA career, he received the Golden State Warriors Community Service Award and he was recognized numerous times by both the NBA and The Sporting News for his tireless philanthropic efforts, culminating with his induction into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 2009.
Today, Adonal is still active in San Francisco-area charities, including the Boys and Girls Club and Oakland's Northern Light School, and he continues to help young people in his native St. Vincent through his Kerosene Lamp Foundation.
United: You have a reputation as a guy who does a lot of charitable work on your own, but what brought you back to the Warriors to take on this role as ambassador before last season?
Adonal: After spending 10 years with the Warriors and then finishing my career and working in Orlando's front office, I thought about where I wanted to live and ultimately decided on the Bay Area. When I came back, I wanted find a way to engage with the team and also with the community. The Warriors talked to me about becoming a community ambassador, and I jumped at it. I believe that community engagement is one of those moral imperatives that athletes have, and, for the people who come and watch the games, it's the least we can do. The Warriors organization embodies that principle so very well.
United: What kind of work do the ambassadors do?
Adonal: The Bay Area is so massive, and what we try to do is amplify the organizations that are doing great work in each of those communities. If you have an organization doing extraordinary things in a particular neighborhood, we as ambassadors look at how we can amplify those voices and give them the proper acknowledgement.
United: You've been active with the Boys and Girls Clubs all around the Bay Area — what does that organization mean to you?
Adonal: I was a [Boys and Girls Club] board member my first few years in the league. In almost every community, it serves as an anchoring mechanism, giving young people access to a place to find friends, to play and to engage with the community. Across the U.S., it has a proven track record of success and has for a very long time. It's one of the organizations that you look to first, and many players model their own charities after the Boys and Girls Club. A lot of guys, not just our players, but from all over the league, went through the Boys and Girls Club; it was kind of a home away from home for them throughout their young lives.
United: Thinking back to when you were growing up in St. Vincent, what inspired you to work hard to succeed, both academically and on the basketball court?
Adonal: Coming from a developing country and being the first person in my family to go to college, I wasn't sure if I would ever get the chance to get an education. Through my athletic ability, I had that opportunity to be recruited and come here, and, having that opportunity, it was important for me to do the best that I could, not only for myself, but for the people who didn't get that same chance. I also wanted to be an example to the kids who came after me. I've always believed that athletes don't get to decide if they are role models; kids decide that for you. You only get to make the decision to be a good one or a bad one.
United: I have to ask, since we are an airline, and now the official airline of the Warriors — where is your next travel destination?
Adonal: (Laughing) Wherever United is going, I'll go! I got the chance to go to the North Pole last year with a group of local kids, and it was one of the highlights of my life. Many of them had never been on a plane before, and you could see a change take place in them. Travel has the ability to transform how we view the world.
Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.
Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.
"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.
"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."
Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.
"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."
If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.
Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.
Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.
"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."
Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.
"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.
In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.
And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast
The Special Chronicles.
In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.
"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."
United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
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 and Microsoft Teams, video conferencing tools 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).
To use on Zoom:
- 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.
- 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.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
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This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.