New Tech Dazzles in Tech-Savvy San Francisco - United Hub

New tech dazzles in tech-savvy San Francisco

By Bob Cooper, June 07, 2018

On May 22, a few city blocks from the headquarters of Twitter and Salesforce, a pop-up appeared in a San Francisco park. For two days, the tech industry and other office workers strolling by were offered cookies (real ones, not browser cookies) embedded with chips (white chocolate ones, not microchips). It was the United Airlines Tech Showcase, where the airline's newest industry-leading tech innovations were demonstrated by team members from across the country.

Delivering tech to techies

"We chose San Francisco to showcase our newest digital offerings, which are as sophisticated as our customers, including those who work in tech," said Janelle Edwards, the sponsorships and brand activation manager for United who headed the operation. "We believe our products will meet or exceed their expectations." She noted that tech-savvy customers are already using apps in airports, for example, and talking to smart speakers like the Amazon Echo.

New features and updates

Entering the pop-up tent, visitors encountered a big-screen display of the United app, which will allow smartphone users to book flights, check in with an e-boarding pass, access their United MileagePlus® account information, find out how close they are to attaining Premier® status and even get advice on where to travel. United representatives also explained newly proactive and personalized enhancements to the United website, noting that it will continue to be the best option for finding deals and planning trips, while the app will be the most convenient day-of-travel tool.

Amazon Alexa

Ask Alexa or Google

At the next display, United team members let visitors ask tech devices about United flights, which is also a brand-new feature for the aviation industry. "Alexa, ask United when Flight 816 is arriving from Seattle," they asked the Amazon Echo. "That flight is arriving on time at 4:13 p.m.," she replied. You can also check in for a flight, ask about inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi and request your MileagePlus balance — not only to the Amazon Echo, but also to Google Home devices. The Amazon Echo requires a simple download of the "skill" to link to a MileagePlus member's account. Google Home links to member accounts through Google Assistant. The team also demonstrated use of the new United App on the Fitbit® Ionic Smartwatch. All of these tools are free. "Visitors today were excited to see how this worked," said Jeff Ulrich, senior manager of eCommerce digital innovation for United. "People are really embracing the use of voice rather than typing, and we aim to introduce other features, too, such as offering travel suggestions."

New tech for technicians

The United Tech App that rolled out this year — the first mobile tech log to be adopted by any airline — will never be seen by customers. However, the customers will see benefits in the form of fewer and shorter flight delays and an extra layer of safety. Mansur Zia, lead technician at the San Francisco International Terminal, explained that until now, any service checks or repairs required printing paper manuals that had to be brought out to the plane. The new app, accessible on iPads that all United technicians will be using by July 1, receives real-time information from aircraft monitoring systems and crew-generated log items are instantly transmitted to technicians. All manuals are on the iPads, with step-by-step repair instructions. Once all checks and repairs are made, the app's lights turn from red to green and the plane can take off. "For last-minute repairs, we found that issues are rectified in seven to nine fewer minutes, which significantly improves on-time performance," Zia noted.

Inside of the pop up in San Francisco

Experiencing United Polaris luxury — virtually

Pop-up visitors had the most fun on the couches where virtual reality headsets led them on a six-minute virtual tour of the luxurious United Polaris® lounges and United Polaris inflight experience. They were virtually transported first to the lounges, equipped with dining choices inspired by the destinations United serves, quiet suites and shower suites containing Soho House & Co's Cowshed spa products. Next, they took in the 360-degree, 3D filming of customers traveling in United Polaris, with seats that recline flat to six feet, six inches, among other amenities. United Polaris seating is available on all long-haul international flights with Boeing 777-300 planes and being added to 777-200s and 757s. United Polaris lounges have been completed at Chicago O'Hare, New York/Newark and San Francisco, with additional lounges opening at Houston Intercontinental this summer and Los Angeles this fall.

A free trip — and cookies!

One lucky pop-up visitor won a drawing for roundtrip tickets on United Polaris business class. As for the rest, they enjoyed the same Christie Cookie Co.® White Chocolate Cranberry handcrafted cookies that United Polaris customers are given now as a pre-arrival amenity. As United team members learned in San Francisco, no one can resist a cookie, not even techies.

United's regional presidents join respective Governor's COVID-19 task force

By Ryan Wilks, May 21, 2020

As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.

Making every step of the travel journey safer for you

By United Airlines, May 20, 2020
United Clean Plus | Clorox

We remain passionate about connecting the world safely

United CleanPlus SM is our commitment to putting health and safety at the forefront of your journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness. We're teaming up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures, and over the coming months, we'll roll out Clorox products across our U.S. airports, starting in select locations, to help support a healthy and safe environment throughout your travel experience.

At the airport

  • At check-in:

  • 1
    Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
  • 2
    Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
  • 3
    Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
  • 4
    Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
  • 5
    Introducing touchless check-in for customers with bags
  • At the gate:

  • 6
    Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
  • 7
    Providing hand sanitizer and
    disinfectant wipes
  • 8
    Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
  • 9
    Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing

On our aircraft

  • 1
    Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
  • 2
    Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
  • 3
    Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
  • 4
    Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
  • 5
    Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
  • 6
    Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
  • 7
    Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
    • Limiting middle seat selection
    • Moving customers seated closely together
    • De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
  • 8
    Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
  • 9
    Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles

Cleveland Clinic We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.

A message from Scott Kirby, United’s new CEO

By The Hub team, May 20, 2020


Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.

While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.

First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.

As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.

Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.

We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.

But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.

Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.

Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.

While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.

Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.

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