Cure for the Blues - United Hub
Connections Matter

Cure for the blues

Employees' honesty restores a musician's faith

By Matt Adams

Employees' honesty restores a musician's faith

Kenny Neal's heart pounded as he retraced his steps through Newark International Airport's Terminal C, desperately looking for his missing bank bag. Over the years, lost money and lost love had been good songwriting fodder for Neal, a Louisiana-based musician known as the "American Bluesman," but this was no time for life to be imitating art. He had a hard-earned 8,500 euros from an overseas gig in that bag, and he couldn't believe it had just vanished into thin air.

With each passing minute, however, the chances of him finding it seemed less and less likely. Finally, out of time and having exhausted his search, Neal accepted defeat and lined up to board his flight to New Orleans. As he waited, he struck up a conversation with United Customer Service Representative Annabelle Nakar and told her of his plight.

"He really felt bad," Nakar recalls. "I asked him if he was ready to board or if he needed more time to look, but he said no, he was ready."

Neal remembers that feeling of bitter disappointment well. "I thought, I might as well get on back to New Orleans, because I'll never see that money again," he says. "I wrote it off as gone."

As the night went on, Nakar couldn't stop thinking about Neal, and she couldn't shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, his bag was still in the airport waiting to be found. Right before her shift ended at 1:30 a.m., she decided to have one last look around the gate area.

She had just about given up when, out of the corner of her eye, Nakar noticed something underneath a row of seats. She reached down and picked up the small, zippered bag and saw the name "Kenny Neal" written on the outside. When she opened it, her eyes widened at the stack of bills inside.

Nakar headed home for the night, her mind still racing. "When I got to my house, I couldn't sleep," she says. "It was around 2 a.m., and I went upstairs and woke up my son, Nicky. I told him, 'Go on the computer and look for this man, Kenny Neal.' We listened to some of his songs, but we couldn't find a telephone number to call him."

First thing the next morning, Nakar rushed to the airport and enlisted the help of United Airport Operations Supervisor Janet Burnett. It was Burnett who located a phone number for Neal and gave him a call, filling him in on the previous night's miracle. Relieved, Neal offered to take the next flight to Newark to retrieve his bag, but Burnett had a better idea: United Airport Operations Station Support Coordinator Jean Browne would personally deliver it to him in New Orleans.

"That really blew my mind," Neal says. "When Janet called me, I was like, man, this is pretty cool – I didn't believe it. Then when they said they'd put it on a plane and fly it down to me, I just thought, this keeps getting better and better."

Browne met Neal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and made the handoff, then caught the next flight back home. "He was smiling ear to ear," Browne says. "We took a couple of pictures together, then Mr. Neal said Annabelle and I could come to any of his shows any time we want."

Neal does indeed hope to welcome the two of them as his guests next time he plays the East Coast as a show of gratitude. As he puts it, getting the money back was nice, but more importantly, the experience restored his faith in humanity.

"I can't thank them enough," he says. "It's great to know we still have good, honest people in the world."

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Airline and its customers use crowdsourcing platform - Miles on a Mission - to donate more than 11 million miles for charities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care
By United Newsroom, December 01, 2020

CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Why we fly

By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

United cargo connects products to people all over the world this holiday season

By The Hub team, November 23, 2020

Critical medical shipments – Check.

High-tech electronics – Check.

2.7 million pounds of lobster? Check.


While this year's holiday gatherings will look a little different, millions of people around the world will still carry on the tradition of celebrating the holidays with a meal.

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