How many miles would you go to help someone in need? - United Hub

Be the light

How many miles would you go to help someone in need?

By Matt Adams, October 28, 2019

Long after sunset, United Captain Andy King and his fellow Watts of Love volunteers made their way along a jungle path on Ilin Island, off the coast of Mindoro, Philippines. Even with their headlamps, the darkness was stifling. King, a Chicago guy, had never experienced anything like it as he moved precariously with the others through the void. Suddenly, approaching a clearing at the edge of a village, King saw an exhilarating sight: small circles of light dancing in the shadows up ahead.

Using solar-powered lanterns that a Watts of Love group had left the previous year, men fished in the night. Women talked and laughed together as they cooked and mended nets. Inside thatched huts, children studied school textbooks.

The village had no electricity. When night fell, its inhabitants had once either lived in total darkness or else lit candles or kerosene lamps, but both could be expensive, and the latter posed a serious fire hazard and emitted toxic fumes as it burned. Now, with safe, economical, self-sustaining light, the tiny community had been empowered. In some ways, those glowing bulbs were stepping stones out of a life fraught with danger and poverty.

Captain King in Mozambique

"It's life changing," King says, speaking to the power of light. "Over the next few days as we distributed the lights, I saw firsthand what a difference it makes."

After that initial trip, King was hooked. For the past five years, he has volunteered regularly with Watts of Love, a nonprofit organization founded by his friends, brother and sister Nancy Economou and Kevin Kuster, with the goal of bringing light to the more than 1 billion people worldwide who live without electricity.

As a pilot, King is often asked about the places he's been. When he mentions the Philippines, Mozambique and Nepal – countries he's visited with Watts of Love – listeners tend to perk up. They want to know more about his volunteer efforts and, most importantly, how they can help.

Through a new program called Miles on a Mission it's easy. Customers can donate their United MileagePlus miles to a number of philanthropic organizations, like Watts of Love, that use them to fly people and supplies around the world.

As long as it meets United's eligibility requirements, any organization can apply to post a campaign on the Miles on a Mission site, which is www.united.com/donate. Each campaign lasts 28 days and has a set mileage goal. All you have to do is find the one (or ones) that speak to you, then contribute as few as 1,000 miles to each.

As a bonus, United is matching the first 50,000 miles earned for the initial 40 Miles on a Mission campaigns, to the tune of 2 million total miles. It's part of the airline's Every Action Counts pledge, by which it promises to unite the world and serve its communities by putting its people and planes to work for the greater good.

"I love working for a company that cares about these kinds of causes," says King. "Giving out lights is one of the most impactful, rewarding things I've ever done, and I want to share that with others. I like that I can talk with my passengers and co-workers about it, and that there's a way for them to be a part of what Watts of Love is doing through Miles on a Mission."

Visit www.united.com/donate to see the current campaigns and read more about Miles on a Mission, including eligibility requirements. You can also visit www.wattsoflove.org to see some of the ways in which its volunteers are putting United MileagePlus miles to good use.

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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