United's Eco Warrior - United Hub

United’s eco warrior

By Matt Adams

Environmental Strategy and Sustainability Manager Aaron Stash could be forgiven for having an indulgence or two; after all, he is one of the driving forces behind United's pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next 30 years. Surely doing that much good on a global scale cancels out, say, owning a gas-guzzling sports car or leaving the faucet running while he brushes his teeth.

Aaron isn't that kind of guy, though. He's the real deal, with a real respect for the earth and its bounty. That's especially evident when he talks about creating a lasting culture of sustainability at United. But if you need proof of just how far he'll go in personally walking the walk, how's this? He lives in a custom-built, eco-friendly home.

"When my wife and I had the opportunity to build a house, we decided to build one that was certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum," Aaron said. "Over the course of two plus years, every waking hour when I wasn't working was devoted to planning what the house was going to look like, what we were going to put into it, and how we were going to do it on a budget."

The home, located just north of Chicago, contains energy-efficient appliances, low-flow faucets and fixtures, LED lighting and enough insulation to maintain a comfortable interior temperature without the constant need for heating or air conditioning. Soon, the Stashes will add 39 solar panels to their roof, enough to generate roughly 16,000 kilowatts a year to power the residence. When they tore down the home that previously sat on their lot, Aaron and his wife even recycled the bricks and other usable building materials.

Seeing the project to completion gave Aaron a tremendous sense of accomplishment, but after moving into the house in 2014, he yearned to do more.

"I was in marketing communications at that time, but I started wondering what United was doing about sustainability," he said.

He soon found that, even then, we were a leader in that space. When Aaron interviewed the Environmental Affairs manager for details about her team's work, she mentioned to him that she had accepted a new job and that her current one would soon be available. Two weeks later, Aaron had it.

Since then, he's had a hand in a number of projects, including the "Shedd the Straw" campaign, in partnership with Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, that rid our airplanes of non-biodegradable straws and stir sticks. He also developed our relationship with Clean the World, the organization that takes our unused amenity kit items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap that would have otherwise been thrown away, and donates them to relief aid charities. That alone diverts as much as 50,000 pounds of material from landfills each year.

Most importantly, Aaron and his team have worked hard on substituting traditional jet fuel with clean, sustainable biofuels produced from waste byproducts to cut carbon emissions. United is currently the only U.S. carrier using a biofuel blend on daily flights, with plans to purchase another 1 billion gallons of biofuels going forward.

"Oftentimes, people don't think about what's coming out of our engines and how that makes the biggest environmental impact," he said. "They want to know if we recycle our cans or not, which we do, but you can't forget about the bigger issue."

Since 1990, we have cut aircraft emissions by 45 percent thanks to biofuels, more fuel-efficient planes and a number of operational and technological improvements. As a result, United now has the smallest gross carbon footprint of the "big three" U.S. airlines, beating Delta (DL) and American (AA). Outside of parking our jets and not flying at all, we're doing everything possible to minimize our greenhouse gas output.

"We're using all the tools and technology currently at our disposal to reduce fuel burn, and we're looking into things we can do for the future," said Aaron. "Our actions today will have a ripple effect in the years to come. Hopefully, history will judge us well."

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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