Pilots Discuss What it's Like to Be of Asian Descent - United Hub

Pilots discuss what it's like to be of Asian descent

By Matt Adams

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, San Francisco-based Captain Stan Snow, Houston-based Captain Lance Lau and San Francisco-based Captain Charlie Curammeng sat for a panel discussion at the Chicago Corporate Support Center where they talked about what it's like to be a pilot of Asian descent.

"I always thought you had to be a white movie star to be a pilot," said Lance, describing how stereotypes hindered his career pursuits early on. As he put it, growing up on a plantation in Hilo, Hawaii, you're not taught to think beyond the island, and you certainly aren't told that you can do something like fly an airplane. Lance's own father was a U.S. Army colonel who had served in World War II but had been told he couldn't fly because he was Asian. He cautioned Lance against such aspirations, but his son wouldn't be deterred.

As a young man, Stan, whose family immigrated to the U.S. mainland from American Samoa, said he felt he could do anything. He had his heart set on becoming a fighter pilot, but when he told his father about his dreams, they were similarly quashed. "I wasn't the right color and didn't have money, so I thought I couldn't do it."

Charlie, who grew up on Oahu in Hawaii, said he had a relatively easier time, with supportive parents. He has never looked at himself as different from any other pilot, believing that it all comes down to whether you can safely fly the plane you're in. "Aviation is the great equalizer," he said.

Houston-based Captain, Lance Lau

But when they did face discrimination, it often came from within Stan's, Lance's and Charlie's own communities. Stan called them self-inflicted challenges. "People would say, 'Are you trying to be better than us?'" said Stan, as an example of a common social obstacle some Polynesians face when working to achieve their goals.

"A lot of us suffered from our own stereotypes and our own perceptions of what we were adequate or inadequate at doing," Lance added. "But we can break through that if we put our minds to it."

Now at the pinnacle of their profession, Charlie, Lance and Stan all focus on cultural outreach and mentoring. All three have spent time visiting schools and urging kids to consider aviation careers, regardless of background, and all three are committed to ensuring that the next generation of Asian and Pacific American pilots have good examples to follow.

"It's about persistence," said Charlie. "I tell them to keep going; don't let naysayers say otherwise."

Following that advice has served these captains well. The panel offered enlightening insights into their lives and careers, as well as some of the issues that our Asian and Pacific American colleagues face.

United Awards Free Flights for a Year to Winners of "Your Shot to Fly" Sweepstakes

Grand prize winners live in Bradenton, FL; Cleveland, OH; Goodyear, AZ; Oakland, CA and San Francisco, CA
By United Newsroom, July 29, 2021

CHICAGO, July 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced the five lucky grand prize winners of its "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes, who will each get to fly anywhere in the world United flies with a companion over the course of the next year. The winners of the "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes are:

  • Ashley Cronkhite from Bradenton, FL
  • Robert Simicak from Cleveland, OH
  • Sean Husmoe from Goodyear, AZ
  • Lauren Aldredge from Oakland CA
  • Lauren M. from San Francisco, CA

The sweepstakes was in support of the Biden administration's ongoing national effort to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccination and encouraged United's MileagePlus® loyalty members to upload their vaccine records to United. In less than a month, more than one million MileagePlus members uploaded their vaccine cards to the United app and website for a shot to win one of the grand prizes. In June the airline awarded 30 first prize winners with a pair of roundtrip tickets anywhere United flies.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

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