These Eyes have Paws - United Hub
Company

These eyes have paws

By Matt Adams, June 08, 2017

On an otherwise normal morning in April, the hum of bustling travelers at Newark Liberty International Airport was joined by the jingle of leashes and the patter of paws as 90 puppies from counties in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania converged on the airport for a very important day of learning.

For two consecutive Saturdays each spring, groups of puppies – most of them between the ages of five and 18 months – travel to Newark Liberty International Airport with their foster families as part of their development as service dogs for the blind. The airport trip has been an annual event for 25 years and continues thanks to the support of United Airlines, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and The Seeing Eye, Inc., a Morristown, New Jersey, nonprofit that breeds and trains puppies to become certified Seeing Eye® dogs.

Since the 1980s, Seeing Eye volunteers Janet Keeler and Carmella Passaro have organized field trips such as this to help familiarize the dogs with the kinds of real-world situations that they will encounter once their training is complete and they are adopted by blind owners. Over the past 10 years, they have worked with NewarkAirport Station Operations Manager Maureen Briody to coordinate their visit to our terminal, which even includes a mock flight designed to give the puppies the experience of boarding a plane.

"This type of training is very important to the customers who will rely on these guide animals," Maureen said. "Not only do we expose the dogs to the sights, sounds and smells of the airport, we also teach the foster families and their support organizations what the puppies' future owners will need to know about traveling with service animals."

The puppies' day began at the Port Authority administration building, where they paraded past a fire rescue vehicle to get better acquainted with the noise and learn to avoid the spray of the water cannon. Next, they boarded buses to United's Terminal C and practiced navigating the concourse, baggage claim areas, the intra-airport monorail and the departure gates.

United Airport Operations Coordinator Jean Browne made gate announcements from the podium before the puppies boarded a United aircraft, giving them a realistic sense of the sounds associated with flying. The group then filed down the jetbridge and took their places on board, with the puppies sitting obediently underneath the seats in front of them. Once situated, Jean and retired United 787 Captain Peter Hernandez, who volunteered to serve as the day's honorary pilot, made "inflight announcements" over the public address system and talked with the foster families about things they should keep in mind while training the dogs for flying.

While it's true that this was a critical experience for the dogs, there was also a secondary benefit to hosting them at the airport: lots and lots of smiles. "The customers love it," Maureen said with a wide grin, "the kids especially; it just makes everyone happy when that long line of puppies goes past them. It's always fun to see people's reaction." Some of our employees, like Newark Airport Customer Service Representative Nanette Marques-Freitas, have themselves been moved to foster puppies for The Seeing Eye after witnessing the event.

"We fostered our first one, Dancer, last year, and we're waiting on a second puppy to begin fostering this year," Nanette said. "I'm hoping to give it a name in honor of United, maybe something like 'Polaris' or 'Ursa.' What do you think?"

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Scroll to top