On this flight, I thee wed...
Around the airline, we see our share of proof that romance is very much alive and well. Inflight proposals, couples jetting off on their honeymoons and love blossoming between randomly paired seatmates all happen often enough to restore one's faith, should it ever be shaken, in the power of love. But here's something you probably haven't seen: An actual honest-to-goodness onboard wedding.
Customer Olana DiGirolamo, a writer and film director, couldn't have scripted the story any better herself. While boarding a Newark-bound flight at Los Angeles International Airport a few years ago, she locked eyes with fellow passenger Mark Alioto, and an instant connection was made. Jump cut to this past summer, the two had plans to be married in Los Angeles, with Olana's brother, Arland DiGirolamo, officiating.
But two weeks before the wedding date, Olana and Arland received crushing news: Their mother, who lives in Northern New Jersey, had been rushed to the hospital with a life-threatening condition. Olana and Arland dropped everything and took the first available red-eye from Los Angeles to be with her.
"During our mother's hospitalization, we remained hopeful the wedding might still go on if she could attend," wrote Arland in a letter to Oscar. "Ultimately, the wedding had to be canceled, despite our mother's miraculous recovery, because it was impossible for her to fly at that time."
Amid the feeling of relief over their mother's improved condition, there was still a sense of sadness about cancelling the wedding. In spite of the fact that she wouldn't be able to attend, Olana and Arland's mother was adamant that they still go through with the nuptials on the original date, July 8. The only problem was, by that time, it was already July 7.
Mark, along with Arland's wife, Alana, had traveled to Newark to be with the family, so everyone was present. As the officiant, Arland racked his brain trying to figure out a way to pull off a wedding with only a day's notice. Then inspiration struck.
"Because Olana and Mark originally met at Los Angeles Airport flying to New Jersey, we all thought it would be incredibly symbolic to try and have the wedding on the plane going from New Jersey back to L.A.," Arland wrote. "flying forward toward the limitless possibilities and adventures in front of them as they start their lives together."
After purchasing four tickets together on one of our flights to Los Angeles, Arland connected with Customer Care Manager Nancy Castro and Customer Care Representative Kaui Ching. It was the first time either had been called upon to plan a mid-air wedding.
"Kaui is amazing," wrote Arland. "She's everything you want someone in customer service to be – thoughtful, caring, smart, understanding, diligent – and she became immediately invested, wanting to assist in any way possible."
Kaui worked with Newark-based Airport Operations Customer Service Manager Carlos Rivas to coordinate everything on the departure side. Carlos arranged for Olana, Mark, Arland and Alana to board the flight early and guaranteed first class meal service for the bride and groom. When they arrived at the gate, Carlos escorted them all to their seats. From there, the flight crew took over as de-facto bridesmaids and groomsman.
Los Angeles-based Flight Attendants Katie Latini, Sean Blue, Rosie Silverman and Jennifer Metcalfe each had an important part to play. Katie oversaw logistics while Sean and Rosie served champagne, food and sweets. At the same time, Jennifer crafted a bouquet out of tissue paper for Olana to hold.
There was a cardboard cake-topper courtesy of Alana and, as stand-ins for the wedding rings, metal pipe fittings that Arland had picked up at a hardware store before they left. Arland led the couple through their vows, after which the other customers showered them with congratulations. Before they were even west of the Rockies, Mark and Olana were officially newlyweds.
"Everything materialized so beautifully and so quickly, and we owe it all to each and every one of these exceptional United [employees]," Arland said in his letter. "From their hearts, they all just quietly and expertly came together to make a singular and beautiful lifetime memory for our entire family, especially Olana and Mark!"
We know people are taking a second look at their travel plans right now. If you're scheduled to travel March 10 – May 31, 2020 and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. This is in addition to our previous waiver, which waives all change fees – domestic and international – for tickets purchased March 3 – April 30, 2020. This is available for any of United's published nonrefundable fares. If you decide to cancel your flight, you can retain the value of your ticket to be applied to a new ticket without a fee. These electronic travel certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020. You might not see this policy change reflected everywhere right away – we appreciate your patience as we work to make that happen.
Eligible travelers on domestic flights and international tickets can request a refund on united.com or may call our contact centers if their flights have been severely adjusted or service to their destination suspended either due to government mandates or United schedule reductions related to COVID-19.
Certain tickets cannot be changed on united.com or the mobile app, including tickets booked through another airline (if the ticket receipt does not begin with 016). Please contact the original ticketing airline for changes.
Follow the steps below to stay up to date, change or cancel your flight.
Change your current flight:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
- Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
- Date of travel or destination
- Add a flight
- Remove a flight
- Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
- Continue through booking to confirm your new flight
Note: The change fee will display as waived, but any difference in fare may apply.
Cancel your flight and rebook later:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
- Select "Cancel flight"
- Confirm flight cancellation
- If you have future flight credit, when you return to the reservation, select "Use Future Flight Credit" to shop for new flights and apply the credit towards a new flight.
Canceling or changing an award flight:
When you select "Cancel flight," you will have the option to cancel your award reservation and redeposit the miles or to cancel your award reservation and use those miles for another trip in the future.
*We're currently experiencing heavy traffic to united.com. If you experience an error while trying to change or cancel your flight, please try again later.
Click through the slideshow below for more detailed instructions:
Start on the United homepage:
User can select 'My Trips' on the homepage widget to find and retrieve their reservation.
When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.
We have operated more than 68 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 9,200 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.
Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.
Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:
- Quito, Ecuador
- Managua, Nicaragua
- Roatan, Honduras
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras
- Seoul, South Korea
- Melbourne, Australia
We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.
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, a video conferencing tool 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).
- 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.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.