How we lost our hearts to the Boeing 747 - United Hub
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How we lost our hearts to the 747

By The Hub team, November 09, 2017

The Boeing 747 has earned its reputation as a revolutionary aircraft. Over its 47 years of service with United Airlines, the Queen of the Skies has built up a considerable fanbase.

The 747 debuted in 1968 as the largest civilian airplane in the world, with a 225-foot-long body, a tail as tall as a six-story building, and wings that covered more area than a basketball court. Nicknamed the "jumbo jet," the world's first wide-body passenger aircraft was so enormous, in fact, that it required the construction of a new assembly plant in Everett, Washington – still the largest building in the world by volume, at 200 million cubic feet.

The 747 is a masterful feat of engineering, balancing size, power, and efficiency. It was the first plane to introduce "big fan" engines, but it will always be known for its unique upper deck, which gives its silhouette that iconic hump. With its widebody design and double aisles, the 747 boasted another all-important perk: it felt infinitely roomier than its peers.

"It is a very comfortable ride," says aviation industry expert Karlene Petitt, who has flown the 747 as both a passenger and a pilot. "It is such a cool plane."

The Boeing 747 was developed during a time when supersonic travel was expected to become the preferred mode of transport. While it doesn't quite hit that velocity, the current model is one of the fastest passenger planes in the skies today, capable of flying near the speed of sound.

Its widebody design also meant that it was the first aircraft with enough seating to make air travel affordable and convenient to many people. The costs per seat were lower for airlines, which meant that they could offer cheaper fares to fill those 300 to 400 seats.

"The 747 was the great door-opener to public air travel," says Addison Schonland, airline industry analyst and founder and partner at the AirInsight consultancy. "The economic barrier was removed. The many Americans who fantasized about visiting Rome, Paris, and London could get there and do so with enough money left over to visit places, eat out, and sleep over," Schonland continues. "Even backpackers benefited from the 747."

From the start, the 747's most important contribution to society has been its ability to bring people together, across oceans and continents. "You could go the distance," say Petitt. "It connected the world."

"It may be seen as one of the great contributors to better global understanding," Schonland says, "as people were able to fly long distances and learn about other people firsthand."

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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