Dulles' Chief Pilot Captain James Simons helping break barriers - United Hub

Dulles' Chief Pilot Captain James Simons helping break barriers

By Matt Adams, February 12, 2018

Washington Dulles International Airport - Based Chief Pilot Captain James Simons can tell you stories.

He can tell you about the time early in his career when a fellow pilot referred to him in passing as, "One of those people who have been out in the sun too long," before accusing him of being a "quota hire."

He can tell you about his interview with another carrier in 1989, in which a manager told James that if he were hired, he'd be one of only six African American pilots at the airline.

And he can tell you about the burden that African American pilots have carried with them for years, the burden of having to be exceptional in the face of unrelenting prejudice.

"You cannot be average," James said. "You have to be on your A game every single day, because, as soon as you're average, there's someone who will say, 'See there, I told you they couldn't do it.'

Yes, James can tell you all of those things. But he can also tell you about the evolution he's seen during his nearly three decades in the industry when it comes to airlines accepting pilots from diverse backgrounds, and he can tell you what it's been like to serve as a guiding hand for that kind of change as the second-ever African American chief pilot in United's history, following Captain Rick McCullough, who was the first.

When James took over as Washington Dulles Airport's base chief pilot in 2012, it was a milestone that attracted a lot of attention. His friends and colleagues were quick to tell him that it was a big deal and there were stories in the press calling James a trailblazer. While he was never entirely comfortable with that designation, James did see moving into management as an opportunity to make an impact as a role model and a champion.

"In the African American community, you're always looking for ways to help others behind you," he said. "My job is to continue to open doors and mentor those who are coming up behind me."

Today, three of the eight base chief pilots at United are black, and there's more diversity among our pilot population than ever before. The road to get to this point wasn't always smooth, but James likes what he sees when he looks at the strides the industry has made.

"I'm proud of United and its efforts to advance diversity and inclusion," he said. "I think we've done an outstanding job here, and I'm proud to be a part of it. And I like to think that, since I've had pretty good success out here at Dulles, I'm now just the chief pilot and not the 'black chief pilot.'"

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.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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