United Focuses on Improving Travel for Customers with Disabilities - United Hub
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United focuses on improving travel for customers with disabilities

By The Hub team, January 06, 2016

We've heard from many of you that you expect more from us when serving customers with disabilities. We want you to know that providing convenient, comfortable and flyer-friendly service to all of our customers is one of our top priorities, and we are committed to meeting all DOT rules. And while we've made significant efforts to improve, we remain focused on doing better.

Wheelchairs at your fingertips

We receive nearly a million requests for wheelchair assistance a year, and we want to make the process of receiving a wheelchair as seamless as possible. That's why we're constantly seeking to improve our facilities and our processes. We're testing an innovative pilot project that seeks to develop the ability, through the United mobile app, for customers to self-identify when they arrive at the airport and to request a wheelchair or other disability-related assistance at the terminal. This technology will also immediately advise customers of the status of that request. In conjunction with this program, we plan to eventually leverage the use of wireless devices –the use of iPhone 6 Plus devices by our flight attendants and customer service agents – to improve our wheelchair service. We're also ensuring that our vendors who provide our wheelchair service use a more modern technology to handle requests more efficiently.

“We expect this to greatly improve our ability to have wheelchairs where they need to be, when they need to be there, so that our customers can get on their way home or to their next destination with ease," said Jon Roitman, senior vice president of Airport Operations at United.

Once our customers have received their wheelchair and are on their way, they'll be assisted along the journey by the additional elevators and wheelchair lifts we've installed this year at numerous airports, including Newark Liberty, Houston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Orlando. We invested $3.8 million on those facility improvements this year and plan to increase that investment to more than $5.3 million in 2016.

Simulating the travel experience

Aside from the physical aspects of getting through the airport, sometimes simply understanding the process can go a long way. That's why we partner with projects such as Wings for All, Project Airport and Autism Inclusion Resources' (AIR) Airport Program, through which we invite passengers with disabilities to practice traveling without ever leaving the ground. The guests rehearse each step in the travel process – airport check in, TSA screening, boarding, a simulated flight and claiming luggage – gaining the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to have a safe and enjoyable travel experience.

Listening to our customers

We know that one of the best ways to understand the needs of our customers is to collaborate directly with them. We developed United's Accessible Travel Advisory Board to do exactly that. The group of experts living with disabilities meet regularly to review our policies and procedures for passengers with disabilities. They also travel throughout our system hosting learning sessions and providing accessibility training to employees, vendors and our airport partners.

Eric Lipp, a member of our advisory board and Executive Director of

Open Doors Organization, said, “Through the Accessible Travel Board, United front line employees are constantly receiving feedback, tips and learning opportunities from customers with disabilities. It is through programs like this, and the airline's partnerships with disability-related organizations, that makes me believe in United's ongoing dedication to providing the best services to customers with disabilities."

We'll continue to listen to our customers and hold our employees and vendors accountable as we work to improve our service to those with disabilities.

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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