A better reason to get to the airport early
We know that traveling can be stressful, and our goal is to make your journey on United an enjoyable one. The atmosphere at the airport, both prior to boarding your flight and upon arrival at your destination, plays a big part in setting the tone of your trip. The amenities, comfort and design of the terminal can have as much of an impact on your experience as the in-flight product or service.
That's one of the missions of the United Airlines Corporate Real Estate team: to turn what was once a merely functional space into one that reflects our passengers' desire for comfort and indulgence. And one of the people leading that effort is Corporate Real Estate Senior Manager Carolyn Harris.
United Corporate Real Estate Senior Manager, Carolyn Harris
Harris oversees United's concessions at Newark Liberty International Airport and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. If you've passed through either of them recently then you undoubtedly noticed her handiwork, particularly when it comes to eating and drinking.
By partnering with the hospitality company OTG in both Newark and Houston, Harris and the Corporate Real Estate team have managed to turn ordinary airline terminals into gastronomical meccas.
"Unlike at other airports, United manages concessions in Houston and Newark, so we're able to be more creative in those places," Harris says. "We offer first class dining and shopping options at reasonable prices, and we look for interesting ways to capture the essence of the city in everything we do by partnering with small and local businesses."
United's Newark Terminal C, for example, features dozens of specialty dining options imagined by a bevy of regional chefs, including Chefs Alain Ducasse (whose restaurant at the Dorchester hotel in London was awarded three Michelin stars), Alex Stupak, Mario Carbone, Alex Guarnaschelli and Dale Talde.
Likewise, the newly-opened Terminal C North in Houston boasts a collection of eateries from some of the Bayou City's most renowned culinary giants. There is Chef Roland Laurenzo's Vida Tacqueria, Chef John Nguyen's Vietnamese-Cajun fusion restaurant Bam Bam and a Houston-centric tavern called Ember created by the James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd, among others.
Along with an array of delectable menu items, the OTG restaurants are also leading the way in terms of technology. "Customers order their meals using iPads in the dining areas, on which they can also scan their boarding passes to receive flight status updates while they eat so you sit back, relax and enjoy your meal without worrying about missing your flight," says Harris. "They are able to pay using United MileagePlus miles and even get food and retail items on demand by ordering via the iPads and have it delivered to them in the gate area. It's really cutting-edge stuff."
In her role as project manager, Harris works closely with OTG's design teams to bring United's terminals to life, and her team gets final say when it comes to the layouts.
"One of the things that I love most about this job is seeing a project go from proposal to finished product. It's really exciting to see it from the beginning, when it's just an artist's rendering on paper, all the way to the end, when you're actually able to watch the customers enjoy it."
Harris is especially proud of the work that went into the new Terminal C North in Houston. The 265,000-square-foot, $277 million facility is one of the jewels in United's network.
"People are going to look forward to flying in and out of Houston when they see it," she says. "There are floor-to-ceiling windows where you can watch the planes take off and land, lots of space for relaxing before a flight - it's a very functional, enjoyable place. And you might not expect to find some of the best restaurants in the city at the airport, but that's exactly what we have there," she says. "It's so rewarding to be able to help create these terminals that are destinations unto themselves."
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In the midst of mobilizing our cargo operations, our teams at New York/Newark (EWR) and Jacksonville (JAX) stepped in to assist Roche Diagnostics with transporting a vital component for an instrument being used for COVID-19 testing.
The component was stuck at EWR en route to the Mayo Clinic in Florida after another airline's flights were cancelled. A Roche employee contacted us asking for help and, within a few hours, our teams had the piece loaded onto a Jacksonville-bound aircraft, with arrangements in place to deliver it to the Mayo Clinic.
The item we shipped will allow the Mayo Clinic in Florida to process hundreds of COVID-19 tests per day. Mayo Clinic Laboratories has been on the front lines of increasing testing capacity to expedite caring for patients at this critical time and working to ease the burden being felt at test processing laboratories in a growing number of areas.
We are going above and beyond to find creative ways to transport fresh food and produce, as well as basic essentials from the U.S. mainland to military and their families in Guam/Micronesia. On Saturday, March 28, we operated an exclusive cargo-only B777-300 charter to transport nearly 100,000 pounds of food essentials to Guam to support our troops.
In addition, we move mail year-round all over the world. In response to COVID-19, and in support of the military members and their families overseas, we implemented a charter network, transporting military mail to Frankfurt, which is then transported all over Europe and the Middle East. Since March 20, we have flown 30,000+ pounds of military mail every day between Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Frankfurt (FRA). On the return flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, we have carried an average of 35,000 pounds of mail to help families stay connected.
"Connecting products and mail to people around the world is the United Cargo mission," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Keeping our military families connected with the goods they need, and keeping them connected with loved ones to feel a sense of home, is of critical importance. As a company that has long supported our military families and veterans, our teams are proud to mobilize to lend a hand."
On average, we ship more than 1 billion pounds of cargo every year on behalf of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit unitedcargo.com.
To our customers,
I hope this note finds you and your loved ones healthy and well.
It is safe to say these past weeks have been among some of the most tumultuous and emotional that any of us can remember in our lifetimes. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been felt by individuals and families, companies and communities, across the United States and around the world.
The response to this crisis has been extraordinary; as much for what it has required from our society as for what it has revealed of us as a people.
Far from causing division and discord, this crisis and the social distancing it has required, has allowed us to witness something profound and moving about ourselves: our fond and deeply felt wish to be connected with one another.
The role of connector is one we're privileged to play in the moments that matter most in your life – weddings and graduations, birthdays and business trips, events large and small – and it's that responsibility that motivates us most to get back to our regular service, as soon as possible.
That is why it is so important our government acted on a comprehensive relief act to ensure our airline – and our industry – are ready and able to serve you again when this crisis abates.
I want to relay to you, in as deeply personal a way I can, the heartfelt appreciation of my 100,000 United team members and their families for this vital public assistance to keep America and United flying for you.
This support will save jobs in our business and many others. And it allows us time to make decisions about the future of our airline to ensure that we can offer you the service you deserve and have come to expect as our customers.
While consumer demand has fallen, we have seen the need for our service and capabilities shifted. And, we've adapted to help meet those needs.
Right now, aircraft flying the United livery and insignia, flown by our aviation professionals, have been repurposed to deliver vital medical supplies and goods to some of the places that need it most. We're also using several of our idle widebody aircraft to use as dedicated charter cargo flights, at least 40 times per week, to transfer freight to and from U.S. locations as well as to key international business locations. At the same time, we are working in concert with the U.S. State Department to bring stranded Americans who are trying to return home back to their loved ones.
While much remains uncertain right now, one thing is for sure: this crisis will pass. Our nation and communities will recover and United will return to service you, our customers. When that happens, we want you to fly United with even greater pride because of the actions we took on behalf of our customers, our employees and everyone we serve.
Stay safe and be well,
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.