Nonstop European adventures
Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.
By Maintenance Planning Analyst Hannah Rebosura
They say that jobs fill your pockets and adventures fill your soul. In my case, it's both because I work for United, and that allows me to travel the world. And I must say that it is a wonderful privilege and a blessing to have the best of both worlds. What inspired and motivated me the most to travel are my parents, who are my original travel buddies. My mom is a United retiree and the legacy that she has left me has made me into the person I am today. But the most important or influential factor in all of my travels is my dad. He never worked for United, but every year for the past 10 years or so of traveling (especially around Europe), Dad spearheaded everything, from listing us on flights, to booking our hotels and scheduling our itineraries. You name it, he does it all. Our love for traveling to Europe has grown so much over the years, and each year just keeps getting better!
Dad never said "no" to any European sojourn. When the travel bug bites, it's off to Europe we go. We've conquered the mighty Colosseum in Rome like gladiators, received the papal blessing at the Vatican and climbed up the Eiffel Tower in Paris three times (it never gets old). We strolled around the endless cobblestone roads of Nice and the surrounding French Riviera towns like Cannes and the fairy-tale inspired Monaco. We wrote letters to Juliet and searched for Romeo in Verona. We danced the flamenco in Barcelona and sang our hearts out to "Do-Re-Mi," during the "Sound of Music" tour in Salzburg, which was a blast. We walked around in wooden shoes and drank the original Heineken beer while in Amsterdam. Going Dutch can be so much fun, but those wooden shoes actually really hurt your feet! We partied with the Germans in Munich for Oktoberfest. We sailed the gondolas in Venice, tossed a coin and made a wish on every old fountain we could find, most especially the Fontana di Trevi in Rome. But most impressively, we've prayed in a church in nearly every single European destination we've visited. My parents are devout Catholics, and it is almost impossible for them not to visit a church while on vacation, especially for my dad. So from St. Peter's Basilica (his favorite), to the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris, to the magnificent Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the Gothic-inspired Duomo di Milano; yes, I have seen them all. I've never been to so many churches in my life, so it kind of felt like church-hopping.
But our adventures don't just end there. We discovered ancient Greece when we went to Athens. Beholding the Parthenon in all its glory felt like reading history books back in elementary school that come alive before your eyes. Getting lost in the tiniest alleys in Santorini and marveling at the sparkling Aegean Sea are some of the best memories our travels have offered. Watching the sunset in Santorini truly took our breath away. It reminded me so much of the movie, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." We admired the architectures of Bern, Budapest and Vienna, including Prague's most famous Astronomical Clock. We've experienced the Christmas markets in Brussels and Antwerp, where chestnuts are roasted in an open fire, and savored the Nutella that filled the air. We ate fondue in Geneva and tried yodeling in the Swiss Alps. And of course, we went to London to visit the queen.
Someone once said, "Never go on trips with anyone you do not love" and I couldn't agree more. Traveling with the people you love the most makes it all worthwhile. It's actually better than traveling by yourself, which I usually do every now and then. But at least someone takes your pictures instead of having to rely on a selfie stick, which really isn't that effective. We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. And what better way to discover it than with two of the most wonderful people in your life? Dad always reminds me that the times I spend with them won't last forever. I travel with them often so, when they are gone from this world, I will know my time was well spent. Time is the most important thing you can give to a person. I know I will cherish the memories and have pictures that captured them!
So in deep gratitude, I thank my dad for encouraging me and challenging me to travel. I've realized that adventures are the best way to learn. And in gratitude, as well, I thank United for giving me the chance to see the world. I know I am blessed. Oh the places we'll go... it's time to fly. So, where to next?
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.
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, 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.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, video conferencing tools that many people are using to stay connected.
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. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.