Cure for the Blues - United Hub
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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 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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