Taking in the views of New Zealand
Airport Ops International Planning Manager Jack Quinones has been busy this year preparing for several of our new and seasonal station openings. In addition to playing a key role in the start-up of AKL (Auckland, New Zealand), Jack also helped to open XIY (Xi'an, China) earlier this year and is helping with the HGH (Hangzhou, China) station opening in July. Between flying back and forth for several site visits at AKL in preparation for our first flight on July 1, Jack took some vacation time with his partner, David (a United flight attendant), to learn more about all the island has to offer.
When visiting New Zealand the first thing that comes to mind is how pleasant everything is — from the soothing teal, green and blue colors splashed across spectacular scenery to the friendliness of its people. The North Island of New Zealand has recently become known as the setting for Middle-earth made famous by "The Lord of the Rings" movies. This radiant and beautiful island is home to Auckland, the country's largest city, and its capital, Wellington.
We first stopped in Auckland, which is usually the gateway for many travelers to the country. It is New Zealand's pulsating heart, with trendy restaurants, cafes, art galleries and a multitude of shops. It is truly a beautiful city, set on the northern part of the island. The skyline is dominated by the Sky Tower, a great place to soak in spectacular views of the city and beyond. If you are brave enough, you can walk around its narrow walkway held by a harness. I wasn't.
In addition to its abundance of Victorian architecture, the city also has many beautiful parks and the Auckland Botanic Garden. The Domain is a beautiful park sitting atop a hill overlooking the city and is home to the city's main museum, the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Here we found tons of history dating from the Maori settlements to British colonialism. It is also the primary showcase of the country's participation in World War I.
Auckland is also the gateway to many of New Zealand's famous vineyards. A quick ferry ride to Waiheke Island from Auckland's Ferry Terminal will transport you to a beautiful spot adorned by gardens, pretty homes and spectacular beaches. A ride around the island by public bus will take you to dozens of small family-owned vineyards. The one we chose to visit was Wild on Waiheke. Here we sampled great wine, beer and local cheese.
A short one-hour flight away to the southern tip of the North Island is Wellington. Although smaller than Auckland, Wellington proudly announces to everyone that it is the capital city of the country. Located on a bay surrounded by mountains, Wellington has spectacular scenery. One of the best lookout points to view the city is from the Wellington Botanic Garden. To get there, take a cable car from Lambton Quay. I chose to walk up to its main entrance on Salamanca Street.
Since it is the capital of the country you should visit Parliament. A modern building known as the "Bee Hive" is its newest attraction. Free guided tours are scheduled throughout the day explaining New Zealand's parliamentary system and its history.
A walk around the harbor is another great way to see the city. Most of the country's seafaring history began here, so many of its landmarks are dotted throughout the harbor walk. The most imposing of all is Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. Here I saw some of the oldest Maori buildings in existence, a great historical photography gallery and an exhibit on Gallipoli, the infamous World War I battle.
After so much culture, I was ready for beer. Since my arrival, the uber-pleasant people of New Zealand had been telling me to try the many craft beers that exist in the country. To sample some of the best beer in the world, Cuba Street is the place to go. It is teeming with street performers, bars, restaurants, coffee houses and unique shops. It is said that Wellington has more restaurants per capita then New York! At least this is what I heard over and over.
So, on your New Zealand adventure, make sure you hit these two great places. New Zealand is a place where contrasts work well together and in harmony. The old with the new. The past with the present. The Maori culture alongside British and European heritage mixed in with a strong Asian presence. Its love for all things modern, yet respect for the environment. And everything seems to work pleasantly well.
Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.
Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.
In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.
"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."
As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.
Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.
Jessica's new role is effective immediately.
By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.
United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.
Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.
A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.
United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group
Fellow United team members –
Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.
Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.
Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.
Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."
Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.
To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.
Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.
UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
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 and Microsoft Teams, video conferencing tools 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).
To use on Zoom:
- 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.
- 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.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.