On This Flight, I Thee Wed... - United Hub
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On this flight, I thee wed...

By Matt Adams, October 27, 2017

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.

Olana and Mark with Olana's brother and his wife on the flight to Los Angeles.

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.

Olana and Mark's make shift wedding bands

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!"

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

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.

United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

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