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."

Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

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.

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