For United's Captain Whitson, 'every day is a gift' - United Hub

For Captain Whitson, 'every day is a gift'

By Rachel Landgraf, April 14, 2020

Mornings aren't everyone's cup of tea, especially mornings that involve starting work at 3 a.m. But mornings don't bother Houston-based Boeing 737 Captain David Whitson anymore. "I don't care if I have to wake up early to fly a red-eye," said David. "It's the little things I appreciate more now. Little things don't bother me." For David, the little things are a gift. A gift called life. It's a gift David is thankful to still have.

"In August of 2016, I started to feel ill," said David. "I had a headache that wouldn't go away. Then, it turned into a fever, my lymph nodes were next, so I went in." At the doctor's, David was diagnosed with leukemia. "I was told I had an FLT3 mutation, which is really not good," said David. "I essentially was told I was going to die unless the treatment went perfectly and I found a bone marrow match."

Captain David Whitson in the cockpit of a plane

David was immediately put on Be The Match, the largest and most diverse registry in the world to help find matches for people diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. While he waited, David continued to fight. "The emotion I felt throughout the process I would describe as hope," he said. "Every cancer patient needs a chance." David's chance came calling in December 2016. "A sweet young lady named Allie Reimold saved my life," said David. "She was a student at Purdue University when she signed up with Be The Match at a charity event called, 'Purdue University Dance Marathon.' The event raises funds for children with cancer."

After receiving his bone marrow, David focused on getting stronger. He overcame obstacles like weight loss, taking over 30 pills a day and even battling a virus, but he fought back with determination and the support of his family, as well as his United family. "I've been given a really generous gift," said David. "This has given me the opportunity to be a better person, husband, father and more. As I worked to get back to work, everyone was rooting for me to come back. You can tell everyone cared, especially the Houston chief pilot's office."

David and his wife Jennifer (center) with Carol and Mark Romine. Carol and Mark lost their son to Lymphoma in 2008. They have been raising money for children and Be The Match ever since.

Without experiencing a battle like David's, there is no way to know where he drew all of the strength needed for his recovery," said Houston Base Chief Pilot Ernie Aller. "The one thing I do know is returning to the skies with his friends and co-workers was one of them." Today, David is back. He's back to being a pilot, a husband, father and now, an advocate for bone marrow registry, especially throughout the month of November as it is National Marrow Awareness Month.

"Three years ago, I knew nothing about bone marrow registry," said David. "Today, there are about 14,000 people awaiting a match or need a transplant. Minorities are greatly under-represented. If I can have a small part in registering someone else, I will do it!"

Last year, David and his wife headed to Purdue University for the first time to take part in the dance marathon and work the Be The Match booth. "I was able to share my story and we had an amazing turnout," said David. "We were able to register nearly 500 people, the largest ever at Purdue."

It's a number that David plans to keep growing so that more people get the chance to tell their story just as he is doing today."I never thought someone would save my life, so just being here to say 'thank you' means so much," said David. "Every day is a gift."

Be The Match is one of 10 organizations that United is matching mile donations, one-to-one, to through Miles on a Mission, our airline miles donation platform. Help us support causes that continue to do their important work during the coronavirus, like Be The Match, which continues to courier bone marrow donations to patients who vitally need them. Visit united.com/donate to learn more about what we're doing to help organizations doing important work in response to COVID-19.

United Airlines Plans to Begin Flights Between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria in November

United to operate the first ever nonstop flight between Washington, D.C. and Lagos and offer more flights between D.C. and Africa than any other carrier
By United Newsroom, September 17, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines announced today that new service between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria will begin November 29 (subject to government approval). The airline will operate three weekly flights connecting the U.S. capital to Nigeria's largest city, which is also the top Western African destination for U.S-based travelers. Tickets will be available for sale on united.com and the United app this weekend.

"This new flight to Lagos has been highly anticipated by our customers and offers the first ever nonstop service between Washington, D.C. and Nigeria, as well as convenient, one-stop connections to over 80 destinations throughout the Americas including Houston and Chicago," said Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of international network and alliances. "On behalf of all of United we'd like to offer our sincere thanks to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and U.S. Department of Transportation for supporting our plans to provide this service."

"We are honored to work with our partners at United Airlines to welcome their second nonstop connection from Dulles International to the African continent," said Carl Schultz, acting vice president of airline business development at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. "Lagos joins nearly 50 other nonstop international destinations currently served by the National Capital Region's gateway to the world."

United will operate this route with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner featuring 28 United Polaris® business class lie-flat seats, 21 United Premium Plus® premium economy seats, 36 Economy Plus® seats and 158 standard economy seats. This flight is the only service between the U.S. and Nigeria to offer premium economy product. Flights will depart Washington, D.C. on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and return from Lagos on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

This new flight builds on United's expansion into Africa and solidifies United's leadership position to Africa from the D.C. metro area, with more flights to the continent than any other airline. Just this year, United launched new service between New York/Newark and Johannesburg, South Africa and between Washington, D.C. and Accra, Ghana. And this December and January, United will increase its service to Accra from three weekly flights to daily* as customers travel home for the winter holidays. United is also returning its popular service between New York/Newark and Cape Town, South Africa on December 1.

United's new flights comply with each country's COVID-19 protocols and customers should check destination requirements before traveling.

Making International Travel Easier

United is the only U.S. airline to offer its own one-stop-shop where customers can conveniently get "travel-ready" by finding a location to schedule a COVID-19 test as well as upload and store their test results and vaccination records directly through the airline's website and award-winning mobile app with the Travel-Ready Center. The airline's easy-to-use travel tool available on United's mobile app enables customers to reduce stress and save valuable time at the airport right from the palm of their hand. United also announced a collaboration with Abbott and became the first U.S. carrier to set up an easy way for international travelers to bring a CDC-approved test with them, self-administer while abroad, and return home.

United Next

United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:

  • Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
  • Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
  • Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
  • Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website. 
  • Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
  • Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to  purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
  • Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.

About United

United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

*daily flights to Accra this winter are subject to government approval

 

SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com

United, Honeywell Invest in New Clean Tech Venture from Alder Fuels, Powering Biggest Sustainable Fuel Agreement in Aviation History

United agrees to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over 20 years - which is one and a half times the size of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced SAF commitments combined
By United Newsroom, September 09, 2021

CHICAGO and DES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United and Honeywell today announced a joint multimillion-dollar investment in Alder Fuels – a cleantech company that is pioneering first-of-its-kind technologies for producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at scale by converting abundant biomass, such as forest and crop waste, into sustainable low-carbon, drop-in replacement crude oil that can be used to produce aviation fuel. When used together across the fuel lifecycle, the Alder technologies, coupled with Honeywell's Ecofining™ process, could have the ability to produce a carbon-negative fuel at spec with today's jet fuel. The goal of the technologies is to produce fuel that is a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum jet fuel.

United Airlines to Present at the 14th Annual Cowen Global Transportation & Sustainable Mobility Conference

By United Newsroom, September 01, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United (NASDAQ:UAL) will present at the 14th Annual Cowen Global Transportation & Sustainable Mobility Conference on Thursday, September 9. The presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m. CT / 11:30 a.m. ET.

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