Q&A with Michelle Brown
In honor of Women's History Month, we are sharing stories of the inspired and strong women of United, like Michelle Brown. Michelle, Managing Director of Customer Service at IAH, is responsible for customer experience and strategy in our Houston hub.
1. Who is a woman who has inspired you?
I have so many inspirations! Too many to name. My grandmother has been the biggest inspiration in my life. She survived the depression, raised her siblings and her children, nurtured me and countless others. Her formal education stopped in the second grade, but she never stopped learning. She inspired me to believe that I could achieve anything with determination, hard work and perseverance.
2. What challenges have you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
I can identify three major challenges I have faced in my leadership journey thus far.
First, I voluntarily stepped away from a high paying role without a job offer and a clear understanding of what I was going to next. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life because I finally felt like I had the freedom to choose what I wanted to do versus doing what people expected me to do.
Second, I have lacked confidence at times during my career. In the past, I have felt like I wasn't keeping up with the other "high performers" in the company. My style was different; how I worked was different from my peers and I was convinced that my way must not be the best way. I doubted that people were actually comfortable with giving me honest feedback because of my positions as a black, female leader. All of these thoughts compounded and made me feel very uncertain. I doubted whether what I achieved was meaningful or if I was making a difference. I felt like I lacked measurable wins and achievements, when in reality I had accomplished a lot but I was too humble to feel comfortable talking about and celebrating my accomplishments.
Finally, my transition from marketing to operations was a very uncertain time for me. I was excited about the possibilities and anxious about the unknown. This leap of faith has turned out to be one of the most interesting career moves I have ever made.
3. Who at United has helped you succeed?
Too many people to name. The people who have most helped me are the ones who believed in me, even at times when I doubted myself. People who encouraged me to take on a special project, people who supported me "testing" some crazy idea, people who prepped with me as I prepared for interviews, and last but not least, the people who cheered and celebrated every success.
4. What's the best part of your job?
The people. I absolutely love working at the airport. I have a great team here in Houston. It's great walking down the concourse and being greeted with smiles from employees and customers. It's so much fun knowing that every day my job is to interact with people and make a difference to someone's day.
5. What advice would you give to girls or other women to help them succeed?
As female leaders we need to talk about leadership and mentor other women so that they will model leadership behaviors. Women and girls should aspire to be leaders in their schools, homes, communities, workplaces and we should talk about this and celebrate it. We should remind each other that it's ok to be the one in charge or to lead. It's ok to own a decision, good or bad. We should teach girls that they are resourceful and if or when you fail, you should learn from it as most mistakes are recoverable. We don't have to be perfect.
Personally, I learn from doing and observing so I often model or role play situations that happen in one-on-one situations or behind closed doors. I also try to lead by example by being visible. We need to expose young female leaders to other women who are leaders in their own right.
Finally, we should coach each other, share with each other, and learn from each other. Too often, mistakes are repeated because people lack vulnerability to share their experiences. We have to be candid and frank with each other to show the next generation of female leaders that leadership does not have to be scary.
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 united.com 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 united.com 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:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
- Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
- Date of travel or destination
- Add a flight
- Remove a flight
- Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
- 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:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
- Select "Cancel flight"
- Confirm flight cancellation
- 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 united.com. 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.
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
- 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.
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).
- 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.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.