A Final Farewell to the Queen of the Skies - United Hub
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A final farewell to the Queen of the Skies

By Benét J. Wilson , June 15, 2018

Have you ever wondered what happens to an aircraft after the end of its useful life? Well 13 lucky MileagePlus® members and two of our employees got to find out after winning an Exclusives auction.


The auction prize was a behind-the-scenes trip to Universal Asset Management's (UAM) facility in Tupelo, Mississippi, where our last four Boeing 747s are being disassembled and the parts prepared for recycling. It also included a champagne toast onboard N118UA, our last 747, and dinner under the stars with the Queen of the Skies.

As we arrived at the facility, adjacent to Tupelo Regional Airport, several of us were a little emotional when we saw the aircraft in different stages of disassembly. But in the company's lunch room — decked out with Malaysia Air first class seats, airplane art and a table made from a stabilizer — Keri Wright, UAM's CEO was firm about her company's mission. “We don't tear down or scrap aircraft. We focus on recycling," she stated. “Think of it like organ donation. These parts can help other aircraft continue to fly. And you are among the few people in the world to see all of this from behind the scenes."

We then headed to the facility's Global Distribution Center warehouse. The lobby of the facility featured our first class seats and galley carts, along with a tire rim-and-glass coffee table and a credenza/bar made from the window section of a 737 fuselage.

Wright, along with Senior Manager, Fleet Transactions Jim Garcia walked us through the warehouse and explained how parts were tracked and cataloged. Among the items we saw were two wrapped helicopters, Boeing 777 landing gears, 747 tire rims, thrust reversers and a cowling from the center engine of a McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

MileagePlus members walking around the last 747

When the warehouse tour ended, it was back to the airport facility. We went out on the tarmac and took pictures of the 747s, including the star of the show — N118UA. Though, all four jets' engines had been removed already.

After a series of photos, we climbed the air stair onto N118UA, where we were able to walk around. I had the honor of being on the last United 747 flight in November 2017, so I grabbed a glass of champagne and sat in my seat — 8C — one last time. We all joined in a final champagne toast to the jet, then deplaned for dinner.

One of the lucky winners was Eric Chiang, an economics professor at Florida Atlantic University, who brought his friend Vicky Chiu, who flew in from Hawaii. “We've been friends for years and we love to travel. I was onboard a flight to London and read a short newspaper article about this auction," he recalled. “We were about to take off and I called Vicky and asked her to bid on this event. I bid 168,000 miles, but got it for less.

Chiang and Chiu are both 1K flyers on United. “I expect to do around 15 international trips this year. I love United because they're able to reach more global destinations than any other airlines," said Chiang.

They both appreciated the chance to attend such a unique event. “Experiences like these are different. We really appreciate the chance for this behind-the-scenes event," said Chiang. “It was also a great chance to meet United executives and share feedback on what's going on at the airline."

MileagPlus members at the Exclusive event

John Ikeda, a United Global Services member who is approaching two million miles, brought his partner Michael Phelps to the event. He also read about the event in a newspaper article, but he also had a special reason for wanting to attend the 747 farewell.

At the last MileagePlus® Experiences auction, I won an altimeter that was on an older 747, and I wanted to see if I could trace where it came from," said Ikeda. “Jim Garcia was able to trace it for me. I was thrilled that I was able to see other parts from that same 747 in the UAM warehouse.

The event exceeded Ikeda's expectations. “I thought it would just be a warehouse tour, a walk on a plane and not much else," he said. “It was great to hear Keri and Jim discuss this side of the business. It was fascinating to learn that this place wasn't about scrapping aircraft, but giving them new life."

Although this event has passed, it's not too late to bid on hardware from N118UA, including single window and American flag cuts out and tail numbers. Join the MileagePlus® Exclusives email list to stay in the know on the hardware auction and other future events.

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team , April 03, 2020

When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.

We have operated more than 68 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 9,200 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.

Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.

Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Roatan, Honduras
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Melbourne, Australia

We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom, a video conferencing tool that many people are using to stay connected.

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. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).

  1. Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
  2. Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
  3. From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.







Domestic and international schedule reductions

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

While travel demand and government restrictions continue to impact our schedule, we know some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home. While our international schedule will be reduced by about 90% in April, we will continue flying six daily operations to and from the following destinations — covering Asia, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe — in an effort to get customers where they need to be. This remains a fluid situation, but United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times. Learn more about what we're doing to keep customers and employees safe.

Flights continuing from now through May schedule:

  • New York/Newark – Frankfurt (Flights 960/961)
  • New York/Newark – London (Flights 16/17)
  • New York/Newark – Tel Aviv (Flights 90/91)
  • Houston – Sao Paulo (Flights 62/63)
  • San Francisco – Tokyo-Narita (Flights 837/838)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (Flights 863/870)

In addition to the above, we will continue to operate the following flights to help displaced customers who still need to get home. In destinations where government actions have barred us from flying, we are actively looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.

Atlantic

The following flights will continue through March 28 westbound:

  • New York/Newark – Amsterdam (Flights 70/71)
  • New York/Newark – Munich (Flights 30/31)
  • New York/Newark – Brussels (Flights 999/998)
  • New York/Newark – Cape Town (Flights 1122/1123)
  • Washington-Dulles – London (Flights 918/919)
  • San Francisco – Frankfurt (Flights 58/59)

The final westbound departures on all other Atlantic routes will take place on March 25.

Pacific

  • We will continue to fly San Francisco-Seoul (Flights 893/892) through March 29 and San Francisco-Tahiti (Flights 115/114) through March 28.
  • Our final eastbound departures on all other Pacific routes will take place on March 25.
  • We will maintain some Guam flights as well as a portion of our Island Hopper service.
  • Hawaii's governor issued a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine order for all travelers arriving or returning to Hawaii. Travelers must complete a Hawaii Department of Agriculture form that will be distributed on board their flight which will also include the requirements for the 14-day quarantine, as well as the penalties. You must show a government issued ID upon arrival along with your form. You can find more information on the governor's website.

Latin America/South America

  • We will continue to fly Newark/New York – Sao Paulo (Flights 149/148) through March 27 outbound.
  • The last southbound departures on most other routes will take place March 24.

Mexico

  • We will reduce our Mexico operation over the next five days. After March 24, we will maintain a small number of daytime flights to certain destinations in Mexico — more to come in the next few days.

Canada

  • We will suspend all flying to Canada effective April 1.

In destinations where government actions have barred us from flying, we are actively looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.

The revised international schedule will be viewable on united.com on Sunday, March 22. We will continue to update our customers with information as it's available.

If you're scheduled to travel through May 31, 2020, and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. Please visit united.com for more information, or reference our step-by-step guide on how to change your flight, cancel and rebook later.

Domestic schedule

Effective April 8, we are further reducing our domestic service between some of our airport hub locations and 31 airports across the United States. We will continue offering service to all of these airports through other United hubs. Additionally, effective April 8, we will suspend service between the mainland and Hilo, Maui, Kona and Lihue - and we will maintain our daily service between our San Francisco hub and Honolulu, which has been reduced to one flight daily. We will continue to operate daily service between Honolulu and Guam.

We are closely monitoring demand as well as changes in state and local curfews and government restrictions across the U.S. and will adjust our schedule accordingly throughout the month.

These the changes result in a 67% overall domestic reduction from a previous 52%, and our overall capacity will now be down 78% overall.

Hub city Route suspensions Remaining service
Denver Arcata/Eureka, CA
Appleton, WI
Hartford, CT
Charleston, SC
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Hobbs, NM
Jacksonville, FL
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Kahului, HI
Shreveport, LA
Santa Rosa, CA
Syracuse, NY
SFO
ORD
IAD, ORD
EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
ORD
SFO
IAH
EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
IAH
SFO
IAD, ORD
New York/Newark Austin, TX
Burlington, VT
Buffalo, NY
Akron/Canton, OH
Grand Rapids, MI
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Las Vegas, NV
Kansas City, MO
Milwaukee, WI
Madison, WI
Minneapolis, MN
New Orleans, LA
Omaha, NE
Norfolk, VA
Portland, OR
Phoenix, AZ
Providence, RI
San Diego, CA
San Antonio, TX
Seattle, WA
Salt Lake City, UT
Sacramento, CA
Orange County, CA
Syracuse, NY
Knoxville, TN
Fayetteville, AR
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
IAD, ORD
ORD
ORD
IAD
SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
Washington-Dulles Austin, TX
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Portland, OR
Sacramento, CA
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
ORD
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO
Houston Hartford, CT
Boise, ID
Akron/Canton, OH
Grand Rapids, MI
Honolulu, HI
Lexington, KY
Ontario, CA
Norfolk, VA
Palm Springs, CA
Richmond, VA
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
IAD, ORD
DEN, LAX, ORD, SFO
ORD
ORD
SFO
IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN, EWR, IAD, ORD
DEN, SFO
DEN
Los Angeles Arcata/Eureka, CA
Austin, TX
Boston, MA
Baltimore, DC
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Eugene, OR
Honolulu, HI
Hilo, HI
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Orlando, FL
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Madison, WI
Kahului, HI
Palm Springs, CA
Redding, CA
Bend/Redmond, CA
Reno, NV
San Antonio, TX
Stockton, CA
Seattle, WA
St George, UT
SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, SFO
SFO
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD, SFO
DEN
Chicago Albuquerque, NM
Asheville, NC
Bismarck/Mandan, ND
Bozeman, MT
Kearney, NE
Panama City, FL
Eugene, OR
Fresno, CA
Spokane, WA
Hilton Head, SC
Honolulu, HI
Wilmington, NC
Jackson, MS
Kahului, HI
Palm Springs, CA
Reno, NV
San Jose, CA
Valparaiso, FL
DEN, IAH
IAD
DEN
DEN
DEN
IAH
DEN, SFO
DEN, LAX, SFO
DEN
IAD
SFO
IAD
IAH
Market Suspension
DEN, SFO
DEN, SFO
DEN
IAH
San Francisco Albuquerque, NM
Atlanta, GA
Nashville, TN
Baltimore, DC
Bozeman, MT
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Detroit, MI
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Spokane, WA
Indianapolis, IN
Kona, HI
Lihue, HI
Kansas City, MO
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Madison, WI
Minneapolis, MN
New Orleans, LA
Kahului, HI
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Raleigh/Durham, NC
San Antonio, TX
St Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
Fayetteville, AR
DEN, IAH
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
Market Suspension
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, ORD
DEN, IAH, ORD
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