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 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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