Customer Danny Young embarks on a rock royalty tour on United - United Hub

Customer Danny Young embarks on a rock royalty tour on United

By Matt Adams, January 26, 2018

Last October, Danny Young, along with his friend and fellow musician Jack Moore, boarded a Los Angeles-bound United flight from London with a one-of-a-kind acoustic guitar in tow, kicking off the first leg of an epic rock and roll odyssey.

Over the next several weeks, they would crisscross the U.S. in pursuit of artists like Peter Frampton, Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes, Dhani Harrison (musician and son of the late Beatle George Harrison), Thin Lizzy's Ricky Warwick and Ozzy Osbourne, among others, asking each one to autograph the guitar. But this wasn't a case of two fans chasing down their idols for kicks. This trip had a much bigger meaning and an unbelievable backstory.

In a way, you could trace the start of it back to 2015. At that time, Danny was a 35-year-old first-time flyer nervously settling into his seat on board a United aircraft at London's Heathrow airport. Danny, a guitar virtuoso, was on his way to the United States, where he was scheduled to demo products for guitar accessory giant Seymour Duncan at an industry trade show. It was the kind of career opportunity that he'd been waiting for all his life. And he almost missed out on it.

Danny with his signed guitar.

Just before takeoff, his heart started to race and his palms began to sweat. The engine hum and the sound of chatter from his fellow passengers seemed to grow louder and louder until Danny found it all unbearable. Before he knew it, he was bolting toward the nearest exit.

"I ran up to a flight attendant and I told her, 'I need to get off, I can't be on here,'" Danny recalled. "I was completely beside myself with anxiety, and I just wanted to get to the door at that point."

It wasn't the first time he'd experienced an episode like that. Diagnosed as a young boy with autistic spectrum disorder, Danny struggles with severe anxiety in public places. Over the years, he's experienced more panic attacks than he cares to count, making many everyday tasks like going to the grocery store – or even maintaining employment – difficult.

After escorting him off the aircraft, a flight attendant sat and comforted him in the gate area while he called his partner, Jody, to pick him up. When Danny got home that evening, he felt defeated. "My son came up to me and said, 'Don't worry, Dad, I would have been just as scared,'" said Danny. "That's when I knew I had to get on that airplane, because I was setting a bad example for my son to not face his fears."

Danny returned to Heathrow the following day determined to get to L.A. When he approached his gate, to his surprise, United employees were standing by, ready to put his jitters to rest.

"They seemed to know what had happened the day before," he said, still somewhat in disbelief at the compassion they showed him. "They led me on board before the other passengers and the captain came over and talked me through everything. The flight attendants stopped by every few minutes and made sure that it was a comfortable experience for me. It completely took the anxiety away; I don't think I could have done it without them."

His first-ever flight went off without a hitch, with Danny growing more comfortable by the mile. By the time he arrived in L.A., the fear was gone. Since that day, he's been a dedicated United customer, which is why he approached our airline to help him get to the United States for his autograph quest last fall. And that brings us to the second part of the story.

A guitar with multiple famous musician signatures.

Two years ago, Danny took possession of a guitar signed by actor-comedian Ricky Gervais. Gervais auctioned the instrument to raise money for the Story Book Farms Primate Sanctuary, and Danny, himself an animal rights proponent, jumped at the chance to support a worthy cause while bringing home a unique collector's item.

But after ponying up more than $6,000 for the winning bid, Danny was unsure of what to do with the guitar. He wasn't going to play it, and it didn't seem right to just hang it on his living room wall. Then his father had an idea: Why not try and get more signatures on it, then re-auction the guitar to raise even more money for the primate sanctuary?

Through some of his previous activism, Danny had been introduced to the Save Me Trust, a charity founded by legendary Queen guitarist Brian May to battle animal cruelty. With the help of mutual friends, Danny was able to get in touch with May who agreed to help, adding his autograph to the guitar alongside Gervais'. In return, Danny agreed to split the proceeds the guitar would earn at auction between the Save Me Trust and Story Book Farms.

Next, Danny recruited Jack Moore to join the project. Jack's father was the late Gary Moore, a renowned guitar player most famous for his work in Thin Lizzy. With Jack's connections in the music business and Danny's determination, they soon had a growing stable of musicians willing to sign, including the aforementioned list of rock luminaries, whom Danny and Jack visited in the United States.

Those signatures would be enough for most people, but Danny's not finished yet. He aims to see the project grow in an effort to maximize the funds he can raise, and hopes to auction the guitar again sometime in early 2018.

"I've got my sights set on Jeff Lynne," the co-founder of Electric Light Orchestra, Danny said, ticking off names of other artists he'd love to add before putting the guitar back up for auction. "I grew up a big Jeff Lynne fan. Another one would be Paul McCartney. Peter and Brian are as big as it gets in the guitar world, so I think we can attract some really good names. Where there's a will, there's a way."

In talking with Danny, you're left with the feeling that he will indeed find a way. His enthusiasm for what he's doing is contagious. After a lifetime of searching, he is a man who seems to have found his purpose.

"I've never been successful in financial terms, and I attribute that to the fact that I've had about 50 jobs in my life," he said. "Statistics show that one in four people with autistic spectrum disorder hold a job, but what we do well is immerse ourselves in the things we love. I'm not trying to capitalize on this financially – I just want to help some great charities, share great music and have fun with it all. And I hope that I can prove that anything is possible if you just try."

Celebrating immigration perspectives and diverse journeys

By The Hub team, September 25, 2020

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the U.S. celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, a chance to pay tribute to the history, culture and contributions that generations of Latinxs have paved to enrich U.S. history. It is also a reminder to celebrate our differences and spark difficult, yet important, conversations.

To kick off the month, UNITE, our multicultural business resource group for employees, did just that by hosting a panel discussion about the immigrant experience and what it means to be an immigrant in the U.S.

United Litigation and Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, who is a pro bono immigration attorney, moderated the panel, and was joined by Ashley Huebner, Associate Director of Legal Services at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Magdalena Gonzalez, Program Manager, Leadership Development Programs at Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement. The three women shared their insights and personal stories, while addressing some misconceptions and highlighting the contributions of immigrants to our company and country.

Participants' headshots from United's Hispanic Heritage Month Panel From left to right, Elizabeth Lopez, Ashely Huebner and Magdalena Gonzalez

"I started to notice that there were things I was scared of doing, that I needed to be cautious," said Magdalena while sharing her personal experience as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. "My friends, who a majority of them are citizens, did not need to worry about that. As I was able to see that, I realized that, 'oh, there's so many things that revolve around not just being a DACA recipient but revolve around being a person with an undocumented status here in the United States.'"

United maintains a close relationship with the NIJC. In May of 2019, United co-hosted an asylum clinic put on by the legal services organization, where several attorneys and legal professionals were trained on representing asylum-seeking applicants. At the end of the clinic, members of our legal department were assigned an asylum case through the NIJC.

Litigation Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, Commercial Transactions Counsel Tiffany Jaspers, Global Compliance and Ethics Counsel Nancy Jacobson and Employment Litigation Senior Manager Dorothy Karpierz were partnered with attorneys from the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery to take on an immigration case of a mother of three from Honduras. Recently, after a years-long court battle, the legal team was victorious, changing the life of the woman and her family.

United is committed to connecting people and uniting the world. Whether you're an immigrant, a child of immigrants or simply want to learn more about the immigrant experience in the U.S., discussions like these, related to this hot-button issue, are important to have in order to understand the human lives behind it.

Make your voice heard

By Brett J. Hart, September 22, 2020

Your voice matters. Voting is one of the most influential civic activities we can engage in as Americans. At United, our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. That's why we've long provided our employees with resources to help them get registered to vote.

This year, we're taking our support a step further as the official airline of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Since the start of the pandemic, we've overhauled our cleaning measures through a program we call United CleanPlusSM , and the CPD has placed their trust in United to fly Commission production staff to each of the four debates, starting with the first one on September 29, hosted by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

Today, on National Voter Registration Day, we also want to make sure our customers have access to information about how to participate in the 2020 Election. Over the past several months, you've heard a lot from us about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed air travel. We've learned that with some planning and extra effort, it's still possible — and safe. That's true of voting, too.

No matter which party you support or how you're planning to vote, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and make a plan to vote.

Best,

Brett J. Hart
President
United Airlines

United named to Year Up Opportunity Hall of Fame

By The Hub team, September 17, 2020

Since its launch 20 years ago, Year Up, one of our critical needs grant recipients, has helped more than 10,000 young adults gain access to corporate business and technical experience at large companies like United while offering the invaluable perspectives they bring with them.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit inducted United into its Opportunity Hall of Fame – a selection that occurs once every five years.

Year Up's mission is to help close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Since 2018, our partnership has allowed talented student learners the opportunity to gain corporate business experience and technical skill training at the airline while bringing their unique perspectives to our United family and culture. One of those students is Emily Lopez, who graduated from the Year Up program in January 2019 and was hired to be part of the United family as an analyst in Revenue Management.

"I moved from Venezuela to the United States in July 2016 and being a young immigrant with no resources can be difficult to pursue a career in a new country," said Emily.

After learning about Year Up and ultimately being accepted into the program, Emily landed an internship with United, an opportunity she is very grateful for.

Emily Lopez - Analyst, Pricing & Revenue Management

"Feedback from my mentors, coaches and managers was key during my internship phase and helped me convert my internship at United to a full-time position. I am grateful for the opportunity United has provided me and my Year Up Alumni colleagues to keep building a professional career within the company. I am so excited to continue building a professional career with the company and to see United being inducted to Year Up's Hall of Fame. Let's continue closing the opportunity divide!" said Emily.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has made this year's partnership a bit more difficult, we continue to do our part to support the Year Up student learners. Last month, we surprised 145 graduates of this year's Year Up Chicago program with roundtrip tickets to pursue career and networking opportunities within the United States.

"I've been personally honored and inspired to be an advocate for Year Up since I joined United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "This program gives young people from challenged backgrounds an opportunity to get their foot in the door as interns at United. This year's graduates are entering a challenging job landscape, but we have one thing that can help: a route network that provides easy access to major business markets across the United States."

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