1 Inspiration to Another: One-handed Pilot Flies Hailey Home - United Hub

From 1st pitch to the flight deck: Hailey Dawson’s special flight home from Houston

By Ryan Hood, October 31, 2017

Seven-year-old Hailey Dawson inspired the nation Saturday night when she threw out the first pitch in Houston with her 3D-printed hand. We had an inspiration of our own awaiting her at Houston Intercontinental Airport before her flight home on Sunday — Houston-based Boeing 737 First Officer Eric Gaffney.

Eric was born without a right hand. He's been touched ever since learning of Hailey's story, and he was thrilled to have the chance to fly her and her family home from the game in Houston.

"I like mentoring people with similar physical limitations," Eric said. "Lots of people told me I couldn't become an airline pilot with one hand. They were holding me back, but I didn't let anyone stand in my way of achieving my goal."

As a First Officer, Eric sits in the right seat, using his right arm to manipulate the control wheel and his left hand to move the throttles.

First Officer Eric and Hailey Dawson in Houston

Prior to the flight, Eric and Hailey shared personal stories, talked baseball and Eric took Hailey into the flight deck. Hearing herself talking through the PA system was a thrill for young Hailey. As a former baseball player, Eric enjoyed hearing about the baseball legends Hailey has had the pleasure of meeting. So far, she has thrown out a first pitch at three MLB stadiums. She's on a quest to throw out a first pitch at all 30 stadiums.

"No one can stand in your way and you can do anything you want to," Eric told Hailey. "All you have to do is put your best foot forward and have heart and passion for what you want to do."

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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