Hub 10: United's Top Stories in 2018 - United Hub
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Hub 10: Our most popular stories of 2018

By The Hub team

As 2018 comes to a close, we're looking back on our most popular stories. From new routes to old favorites to employee journeys, we're ringing in the new year with a roundup of our top stories. As we look forward to 2019, take a moment to reflect with us on all that was in 2018.

1. Introducing Better Boarding

The feedback from customers and employees was clear: we needed to improve our boarding process. As part of our ongoing efforts to put customers at the center of everything we do, we identified boarding as an opportunity to improve the airport experience.

2. Big Metal Bird: Island Hopper 

Five magnificent stops between Honolulu and Guam filled with spectacular scenery along the way, and then back again. If you haven't checked out our Big Metal Bird series, now is the time to do so as host, Phil Torres, explores our unique Island Hopper route, and discovers what the route means to the people of Micronesia.

3. Flying the flame, igniting inclusion

It was an unusual sight: a flame on a plane — this wasn't just any flame though, it was the Special Olympics' Flame of Hope, the flame which lit the Eternal Flame of Hope to kick off Special Olympics' 50th anniversary celebration this past summer. Our partnership with Special Olympics represents our continuing effort to break down barriers and further build on Special Olympics' remarkable legacy of inclusion by engaging our employees around the world.

4. 5 top experiences in Reykjavik, Iceland

This past year we launched new routes near and far including Reykjavik, Iceland which may sound like a faraway destination — in actuality, it's only a four hour and forty-minute flight from Newark's International Airport (EWR). To celebrate the new route, we traveled to Iceland this summer with freelance photographer, Tim Landis, as part of our United Journey travel series. Don't forget to tag your travel stories in 2019 using the #MyUnitedJourney on social media.

5. After Landing: Denver 

In 2018, we kicked off After Landing, a travel guide series dedicated to bringing you insider tips and local recommendations on what to see and do in some of our favorite destinations. Our unique twist? We didn't compile the list ourselves (however, we think we know a thing or two), we went straight to the travel source — our employees who happen to be travel experts. Look out for more After Landing travel guides in 2019.

6. The Hawaiian Islands: Sand, surf and tropical trails

Enjoy beautiful beaches, water sports, snorkeling, rainforest hiking and tropical weather. Hawaii has all that and more on its five major islands, known worldwide for their array of outdoor activity indulgences.

7. 5 travel hot spots you don't want to miss in 2018

There are only so many trips you can take each year — so where did you adventure to in 2018? Did any of our top destinations make your travel hot spot list?

8. Following in her father's footsteps

Father and daughter pilot duo, Randy and Tamela, have flown the same type of aircraft, but have never flown a flight together. This past year, there was a chance happening where they were able to fly as a father-daughter flight crew. So many people have been influential in Tamela's journey, including her mother, sister, mentors, coworkers and friends, but it has been a very special relationship with her father that she feels forever grateful for.

9. 3 cities in Spain you need to visit this summer

White-sand beaches, mouthwatering food, and rich cultural history, it's hard to imagine a more idyllic destination to visit than Spain. Whether you're an art lover who's interested in exploring the masterworks of Picasso and Dalí, a parent looking to introduce their kids to the magic of Southern Europe, or you just want to relax on a sailboat as it drifts lazily along the sun-drenched coastline, you'll find exactly what you've been dreaming of in this Mediterranean paradise.

10. Our pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

In September, we became the first U.S. airline to publicly commit to reducing our greenhouse emissions — 50 percent by 2050. This pledge further strengthens our commitment to becoming the world's most environmentally conscious airline. How are we going to do this? By making investments in fuel-efficient aircraft, implementing conservation-minded operational changes and pioneering the use of sustainable aviation biofuels. Stay tuned for more on this in 2019.

Runner-ups:

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

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