Creating Opportunities Inspired by the Past - United Hub

Creating opportunities inspired by the past

By Rachel Landgraf, February 27, 2020


The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American pilots to fly in World War II, setting the precedent and paving the way for African Americans in the flight deck, like Brian Jackson, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Base Chief Pilot.

"I wouldn't be here without them," said Brian. "The Tuskegee Airmen set the framework to be what I am today. I want to be able to supply opportunities like that for generations to come."

Strolling through LAX, Brian reflected on how his framework began when he was a boy growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Lakeland, Florida. With an aunt who was a flight attendant and an uncle who is still an airline mechanic today, Brian's interest in aviation began at an early age.

But becoming a pilot? It seemed like a distant dream.

"As a minority, when you dream of becoming something like a pilot, you seek someone that looks like you," said Brian. "It's so you can say, 'I want to be like them.' But I didn't have that person to look to. Even though I had family in the aviation industry, they weren't pilots."

However, it was Brian's family, specifically his mother and another one of his uncles he credits as his mentor, that encouraged and helped him toward a dream that, at the time, seemed distant.

"My mother never loved flying," said Brian. "But she told me, 'Go for your dreams and always be the best you can be.' And then my uncle helped put everything in front of me. He helped put me in flight school and with my resumes to get hired at my first regional carrier. He was the person that helped me clear the path."

Brian's path brought him to United 15 years ago. He started at Newark Liberty International Airport, then moved to Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, where for over six years, he flew all around the Pacific. He then went on to George Bush Intercontinental Airport where he served as an instructor before moving to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. And as of the beginning of February, Brian is now the base chief pilot at LAX. Throughout his career, Brian has also been an active member and advocate for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), the Tuskegee NEXT programs and more.

"A lot of kids will come up and say, 'Thank you' or 'What did it take?'" said Brian. "But really, we should be thanking them. For putting forth the effort and the time to studying to attain this career. For me, it's a continued legacy and it all started with the Tuskegee Airmen."

Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

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."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

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.

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