Introducing hands-free check-in for your favorite smart device
We've all been there. It's the day of your flight and you find yourself rushing around the house throwing one item after another into your bag. "Did I pack my phone charger? What about a jacket?" The last thing on your mind is checking in to your flight — or at least you don't remember to check in until you're in a chaotic rush to get out the door. Now you can check in to your flight hands-free with your favorite smart device such as Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant via your phone or Google Home and through Fitbit's Ionic smartwatch making it even easier to gather up those last-minute items.
Amazon Alexa, the voice service that powers Echo, provides capabilities also known as skills, which enable a user to interact with devices throughout their home through voice commands. Using your Alexa-enabled device such as the Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot, you can also check your flight status and ask about the amenities on board, including Wi-Fi, movies and entertainment using the simple command, "Alexa, ask United…"
"Every day we connect nearly 400,000 customers to business meetings, loved ones and new adventures," said Praveen Sharma, vice president of digital products and analytics at United. "Introducing the new skill to check in and receive flight information with Alexa is an innovation that gives our customers extra time to prep for a business meeting, play with their children or relax as they get ready for their upcoming flight."
The United skill for Alexa launched in September in the Amazon Alexa app. Once you've enabled the skill on your device, connect your MileagePlus® account which will activate the skill. From there you can check in for your U.S. domestic flight using the command, "Alexa, ask United to check me in." Get the United skill for Amazon Alexa here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725H6LG7.
Additionally, you can now check-in using Google Assistant through your phone or Google Home device and coming later this month through the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch.
The new United app on the Google Assistant lets customers use smart speakers like Google Home, and eligible Android and iPhone devices to stay up-to-date on their flight. Once customers have linked their MileagePlus account to the Google Assistant, users can say "talk to United" to hear their flight status, check amenities and check in for their upcoming flight. The new app also allows Google Assistant users to check their MileagePlus account balances, hear their last account activity, check in for their United domestic U.S. flights and hear flight information.
And lastly, Fitbit announced additions to its App Gallery that allows owners of the Ionic smartwatch to choose from more than 60 apps and 100+ clock faces to personalize their watch. The United app will allow customers to receive flight status information and their boarding pass on the device with no need to pull out their phone. To access the United app on the Ionic smartwatch, customers can connect their MileagePlus account in the United app settings within the Fitbit mobile app, and sync Ionic to update the watch.
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If you can't get to Mars, what's the next best thing? Apparently Iceland. A team of renowned explorers and researchers recently journeyed to Iceland to test a Mars analog suit in a Martian-like environment.
The United sponsored expedition, led by The Explorers Club — an internationally recognized organization that promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space — and in partnership with Iceland Space Agency, involved the team venturing inside the Grímsvötn volcano and across the Vatnajökull ice cap. The group traveled to the remote location and lived for six days in the Grímsvötn Mountain Huts and endured harsh weather conditions and unstable terrain.
Helga Kristin Torfadöttir, Geologist and glacier guide, using the LiDAR system to map the ground and test the suit's capabilities on the glacier.
The objective of the mission was to explore the potential of concept operations at the Grímsvötn location while testing the suit in an arctic environment similar to what would be found on the surface of Mars. "This mission was an important test of the design of the MS1 suit, but it was also incredibly helpful to understand the how to conduct these sorts of studies in Iceland," said Michael Lye, MS1 designer and NASA consultant and RISD professor. "No matter how thoroughly something is tested in a controlled environment like a lab, studying it in a setting that accurately represents the environment where it will be used is absolutely essential to fully understand the design."
The suit was designed and constructed by faculty and students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with input and guidance from members of the HI-SEAS IV crew and NASA's Johnson Space Center Space Suit Engineering team. At 50-60 lbs, the suit is similar to what a planetary exploration suit would weigh in Martian gravity. The suit was originally designed to be used in the warm climate of Hawaii, however the martian climate is much closer to what would be found on top of the glaciers in Iceland. The data collected will inform the future of habitat and spacesuit design that can be used to train astronauts on Earth.
Today, we remember the colleagues, customers and every single victim of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
I know each of us in the United family marks this difficult moment in our own way. Still, we all share a common commitment to honor how our brothers and sisters left us and also celebrate what they gave to us during their lives. We remember their professionalism and heroism. We cherish their camaraderie and friendship. We carry with us the examples they set forth, especially in the heroism and bravery displayed by so many on that terrible day. Above all, we understand a simple truth: While thousands of our fellow human beings lost their lives in New York City, Arlington and Shanksville, the attacks of September 11th were aimed at all people of peace and good will, everywhere. They were attacks on the values that make life worth living, as well as the shared purpose that make us proud of what we do as members of the United family: connecting people and uniting the world.
We may live in times scarred by discord and disagreement, and we know there are those around the world who seek to divide us against one another. But, on this day – above all – we come together, as one. We affirm our core belief that far, far more unites us as citizens and fellow human beings than can ever divide us.
Let us embody that belief as we go about serving our customers and one another – on this day and every day – as we continue to help building a world that's more united. Let that be our memorial to the sisters and brothers we lost, eighteen Septembers ago.