Ring Reunion: United Reps Deliver Valentine's Day Surprise - United Hub

Ring reunion: United reps deliver Valentine's Day surprise

By Ryan Hood

Megan Hansen grabbed the hand bag under her seat, looking to put away her book. Instead, she found a gut-wrenching problem. Her engagement ring wasn't on her finger. Barely two months after her now-fiancé, Philip Walker, had placed it there, it was gone.

"I was an absolute wreck," Hansen says. "My parents, sister and her boyfriend were traveling with us and their support helped a lot, but I was pessimistic. It's a really nice diamond ring, so I thought there's no way someone would turn it in."

Making matters worse, after searching the United plane the group flew to John Wayne Airport to no avail, Walker admitted he hadn't insured the ring. Thursday was not exactly a magical start to a long weekend with family at Disneyland.

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Cheryl Searle can illuminate an entire terminal with her infectious positivity and never-ending desire to put smiles on customers' faces. A senior supervisor for United Airlines at its Denver International airport, Searle was particularly chipper when she showed up to work, since she was planning to celebrate Valentine's Day by surprising customers with goody bags full of sweets.

A couple hours into the work day, a coworker told her about an engagement ring that'd been recovered near Gate 33. A missing item claim had been filed, a match found, and customer confirmed. The customer would be flying back to Denver on Sunday.

'Happy ending, but we can make it an even happier ending,' Searle thought to herself.

After getting the green light from her boss, Searle and customer service representative Nancy Swingle boarded the next United flight to Orange County, California to make a surprise Valentine's Day delivery.

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Hansen woke up distraught Friday morning. She hadn't heard from anyone about the ring and she was convinced she'd never see it again. Her finger felt empty, so she googled potential replacements she could buy herself. Hansen's mother, sensing her daughter's heartbreak, bought a ring from the Disney store so that Megan could have something on her finger again.

That placeholder helped, and the family headed into Disneyland. While at the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge area, Hansen got an incredibly uplifting call: her ring had been recovered at the Denver airport, and United would hold on to it for her to pick up on Sunday.

"United made my Valentine's Day," a relieved Hansen exclaimed. Shortly after, her fiancé's phone rang. Cheryl Searle was on the other end.

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Everyone knew, except for Hansen. Even Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Searle and Swingle, with the help of Disneyland, Hansen's fiancé and her father, had devised a ring reunion plan for Friday night's fireworks show. Hansen and family arrived for the show and went directly to a VIP viewing area.

"Weird, but my Mom must have talked our way into here, since that's something she'd do," Hansen recalled thinking. A few minutes later, Searle and Swingle approached Hansen, in the shadow of Sleeping Beauty Castle. "I thought they were Disney employees," Hansen said. "I'm thinking to myself, 'Oh no, what did I lose now? Did I leave my wallet somewhere?'" Then Searle revealed a small box in her right hand.

"We know you are already in the happiest place on earth," Searle told her, "but we think we are about to make you just a little bit happier."

United reps pictured returning engagement ring to customers, Megan and Phillip. Cheryl and Nancy pictured with Megan and Phillip at Disneyland

Searle handed the ring to Walker, who got down on one knee and re-proposed. Those nearby cheered, thinking they'd just witnessed the couple get engaged. Disney arranged for Mickey and Minnie to pay the family a visit, too.

"I have so much gratitude for Cheryl, Nancy and everyone else at United who was involved with this truly surreal experience," Hansen said. "They took what was this highly stressful, awful moment in my life and turned it into a great experience and made me feel like I truly mattered. And that's special."

For Searle, Swingle and their United colleagues in Denver, it was mission accomplished.

"Customer Service is all about doing the right thing and taking care of our customers like we would want someone to take care of our own family," Searle said. "I felt utter pride knowing that her ring was home with her, where it belonged, especially on Valentine's Day.

"Seeing the reunion unfold, from the planning phases to the deployment, it gave all of us reason to believe in happy, fairytale endings. Dreams do come true."

Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities

By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team, October 27, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.

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.

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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