Spotted at the South Pole: A United Flag - United Hub

Spotted at the South Pole: A United flag

By Ryan Hood

"If you care so deeply about the environment," people skeptically pose to him, "how could you possibly justify spending so much time on airplanes?"

Robert Swan has gotten this question more times than he can count.

And it's a fair question, really. And Swan, an adventurer and the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles, acknowledges why it could seem contradictory for someone who has dedicated his life to protecting the planet to take 100+ flights each year.

"Travel is part of my job — it'd be a really long way to swim across the Atlantic," Swan jokes. "When people criticize me for flying, I can honestly say I fly with the airline that is the true leader in this. I would be well-screwed in terms of credibility if I wasn't flying with United, the airline that is an environmental leader."

Swan has been flying United for nearly three decades and is a Global Services member with the airline. He recently attended "Innovation in the Skies", a symposium United co-hosted at its Willis Tower home where visitors and media members heard presentations on the state of sustainable jet fuel and the importance of harnessing clean energy for use in commercial aviation.

United President Scott Kirby was the day's first speaker, telling the crowd, "United's goal is to be the most environmentally conscious airline in the world," before outlining some of the tactics United is employing to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by the year 2050.

Since 2016, United has sourced more sustainable aviation biofuel than any other carrier in the world, and earlier in 2018, United operated the longest transatlantic biofuel flight to date, from San Francisco to Zurich.

United reducing its reliance on traditional fossil fuels, and opting instead for investments in biofuels, is what enamors Swan most with United's Eco-Skies program. After all, such biofuel has kept he and his son alive.

Robert's son, Barney, is also an adventurer. He became the first person to walk to the South Pole powered solely by biofuel.

"Where we go are the coldest, most hostile places on Earth – the temperatures there can fall to Minus-75 Fahrenheit," Robert Swan says of their 600-mile, 57-day journeys. "Airplanes fly in very cold temperatures at 35,000 feet, so airlines need jet fuel, since it doesn't freeze. We have used jet fuel in these places to melt the snow to cook our food. If you don't melt water and don't eat, you die, fast."

It was on both Polar expeditions that Swan experienced firsthand the effects of environmental damage on the Polar icecaps. This shaped Swan's lifetime goal — to work for the preservation of the Antarctic as the last great wilderness on earth. He then founded 2041, an organization dedicated to this goal.

United's dedication to reducing its carbon skyprint is why the Swans felt compelled to bring a United flag with them to the South Pole.

"We decided we want to help support companies like United who are using biofuels, which are much better for our planet on our aircraft," Swan says. "We are proud to fly the Friendly Skies."

Please take a moment to read more about how United is becoming better stewards of the environment on its Eco-Skies page.

How to change your flight, or cancel and rebook later

By The Hub team , April 04, 2020

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 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 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:

  1. On the homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
  2. Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
    • Date of travel or destination
    • Add a flight
    • Remove a flight
  3. Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
  4. 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:

  1. On the homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
  2. Select "Cancel flight"
  3. Confirm flight cancellation
  4. 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 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.

  • If you're not signed in or you're a guest user, enter your confirmation number and last name.
  • If you are signed in, you can select a trip from your current trips or select the 'Find another trip' link.

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team , April 03, 2020

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
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • 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.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team , April 02, 2020

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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.

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