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.

Touchdown! United Airlines Adds 74 Flights for College and Professional Football Games This Fall

United to fly new routes, add additional flights and operate larger aircraft to get more fans than ever to the best football games this season
By United Newsroom, August 04, 2021

CHICAGO, Aug. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- As football fans across the U.S. get ready to cheer on their favorite teams on the road this fall, United is adding new routes, more flights and flying planes with more seats to give diehard fans every chance to get in on action on their rival's home turf. To meet an expected increase in demand for fans to travel to watch their favorite teams in person this season, United is adding 74 flights, including 52 new direct flights between college towns and professional football markets on gameday weekends this September through November. The airline will operate three times more direct flights to college towns this year than it did in 2019.

United Awards Free Flights for a Year to Winners of "Your Shot to Fly" Sweepstakes

Grand prize winners live in Bradenton, FL; Cleveland, OH; Goodyear, AZ; Oakland, CA and San Francisco, CA
By United Newsroom, July 29, 2021

CHICAGO, July 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced the five lucky grand prize winners of its "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes, who will each get to fly anywhere in the world United flies with a companion over the course of the next year. The winners of the "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes are:

  • Ashley Cronkhite from Bradenton, FL
  • Robert Simicak from Cleveland, OH
  • Sean Husmoe from Goodyear, AZ
  • Lauren Aldredge from Oakland CA
  • Lauren M. from San Francisco, CA

The sweepstakes was in support of the Biden administration's ongoing national effort to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccination and encouraged United's MileagePlus® loyalty members to upload their vaccine records to United. In less than a month, more than one million MileagePlus members uploaded their vaccine cards to the United app and website for a shot to win one of the grand prizes. In June the airline awarded 30 first prize winners with a pair of roundtrip tickets anywhere United flies.

United First U.S. Airline to Offer Economy Customers Option to Pre-Order Snacks and Beverages

New pre-order option builds on the airline's contactless payment technology and is another example of the customer experience transformation underway at United
By United Newsroom, July 28, 2021

CHICAGO, July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting today on select flights, all United customers – no matter what cabin of service they're flying in – can use the airline's award-winning mobile app and website to pre-order meals, snacks and beverages up to five days before they're scheduled to travel. United is the first and only U.S. airline to offer economy customers the option to pre-order snacks and beverages, a reflection of the customer experience transformation underway at the airline.

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