A Friendship Proving Age is Just a Number - United Hub

A friendship proving age is just a number

By The Hub team

It seemed to be just another day at work for Newark-based Flight Attendant Francesco Samarelli, working a flight from Newark International Airport (EWR) to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP). He was going about his regular duties asking for drink choices while serving customers, when he got to an elderly woman whose response took him by surprise.

"I would like a bottle of wine, please," she said with a friendly smirk.

Recognizing her sense of humor, Francesco kindly replied asking the woman to provide an ID for age verification.

"Do you know how old I am?" the woman asked.

"Anywhere between 1 and 90," Francesco replied.

She smiled and said, "Close! I am 99 years old and turning 100 in a few months."

Francesco, Rosie and her life partner Mary Ann.

That was March of 2012 and, unbeknownst to Francesco then, it was also the beginning of a very special friendship between him and Rosalia "Rosie" Zona.

After taking care of the customers on board, Francesco returned to Rosie, who was traveling with her friend and life partner Mary Ann, to strike up a conversation. Rosie shared with him stories about her life, family history and even invited him to her 100th birthday party. Unfortunately, due to his move to Europe, Francesco missed the birthday party that summer.

Exactly one year after their first encounter, Francesco had just finished the safety presentation on the EWR to MXP flight, when he heard someone yell: "You didn't come to my birthday party!"

Lo and behold, he looked up to see Rosie smiling at him. It was at that moment that Francesco realized she was meant to be part of his life. Around that same time, Francesco had started studying positive psychology and its power to make life more meaningful and fulfilling, and seeing Rosie again that day reaffirmed that he was on the right path.

Since their re-encounter, Francesco has stayed in regular contact with Rosie and Mary Ann, even attending Rosie's 106th birthday party in New York last summer, where Rosie surprised her guests by playing piano and singing songs.

Francesco at Rosie's 106th birthday party.

Through stories and life updates they've shared throughout the years, he learned that Rosie was a model as a young woman, but also that Rosie's life wasn't always rosy. In her early thirties she met her husband while ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Unfortunately, after five children together, the couple began to have marital problems, which ultimately led to divorce.

"Despite all that she's been through, she's one of the brightest and most inspirational people I've ever met," said Francesco. "Her positivity is contagious. When she speaks, she looks into your eyes; when she holds your hand, she holds it tight. She makes every single moment count."

They say age is just a number and, in this case, the age gap between the two friends is just that – an irrelevant number. Francesco is not only grateful for Rosie's friendship, but also for instilling in him the significance of having a positive attitude, no matter what life may throw in our way.

"This life is a dance, and I've never seen a better dancer than Rosie Zona," he said.

United cargo-only flights transport critical goods

By The Hub team

When the pandemic began, United Cargo knew it would be critical to utilize its fleet, network and industry-leading pharmaceutical handling processes to transport a COVID-19 vaccine when the time came.

Connecting vaccines to the world: United responds to mass distribution effort

December 22, 2020

On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.

Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Airline and its customers use crowdsourcing platform - Miles on a Mission - to donate more than 11 million miles for charities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care
By United Newsroom, December 01, 2020

CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Why we fly

By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

Scroll to top