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.

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.

2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center

Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.

3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist

Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:

Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days

Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days

Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted

4. Arrive early; avoid the stress

Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.

5. Get familiar with CleanPlus

United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:

Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal

Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding

Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features

Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria

Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.

6. Wear your mask

Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.

7. Get ready for a safer boarding process

To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.

8. Pack smart

Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.

9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather

Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.

10. Relax and enjoy your flight

Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.

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.

United cargo-only flights transport critical goods

By The Hub team

When the pandemic began, United Cargo knew it would be critical to utilize its fleet, network and industry-leading pharmaceutical handling processes to transport a COVID-19 vaccine when the time came.

Connecting vaccines to the world: United responds to mass distribution effort

December 22, 2020

On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.

Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.

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