More Than a Vacation - United Hub
Employee Travel Blog

More than a vacation

By The Hub team, May 19, 2017

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By HNL Remote Reservations Sales Supervisor Tami Cummings

My daughter was leaving for college last fall, and we wanted to create a lifelong memory before she began this next chapter of her life. My mom, daughter and I, along with some friends, signed up with an organization called Color My World, a nonprofit committed to relieving human suffering through sustainable projects. They put together groups of volunteers to take humanitarian trips and experience the cultures of many Latin American countries. The trip we chose was to Costa Rica. It was everything we hoped it would be and more. We were paired up with a group of volunteers from the U.S. and an amazing coordinator from the U.K.

We worked with an incredible woman named Gail, who went to Costa Rica in the '70s to volunteer with the Peace Corps and fell so in love with the people that she stayed and opened up a preschool for local children. We got to work with the children in the preschool who, without Gail, would not have this opportunity. She teaches them English and basic life skills. Her school is run completely with donations and volunteers. She prepares the children for school beyond preschool, but many of them are not able to attend because you have to have shoes in order to attend school. Unfortunately, many children do not have shoes or the money to buy them, so they are not able to continue school past Gail's preschool. We made sure to bring several pairs of shoes with us to donate to the school. If you ever find yourself in La Carpio, Costa Rica, please consider taking a box or two of children's shoes along with you. Gail will be forever grateful, and you will be the hero of the town!

Mural on one of the walls in Costa Rica

We were also asked to paint a mural on one of the walls in the town. My daughter is an artist and came up with an incredible mural that the people loved. They wanted us to paint the rest of the town! She designed the wall and we all helped paint. The locals joined us, and we named the mural Vivir en Paz (Live in Peace). Gail also took us to meet an indigenous man -- he had an incredible spirit, and the land where his people lived was the most peaceful place I have ever been. Their traditions and beliefs were so intriguing. It was wonderful to learn their ways and how they stay healthy and live long lives.

United employee, Tami Cummings and her daughter near waterfalls in Costa Rica

Beyond our wonderful volunteering experiences, our trip also included plenty of time for fun too! We went ziplining, and our zipline tour included seven different lines with volcano views below us as we soared. It was extremely high and a bit scary for me, but my daughter loved it! We also went whitewater rafting, which was my favorite activity outside of volunteering. Our guide's name was Carlos, and he was very friendly and fun. We spent the last day and night of the trip in a beautiful hotel near a volcano with natural springs. It was a perfect way to relax and end a fun but, more importantly, rewarding vacation. I will never forget this amazing experience in this beautiful country. Costa Rica truly is pura vida (pure life).

Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities

By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team, October 27, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. 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. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.

So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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