'From One Groundbreaker to Another' - United Hub
women's history month

'From one groundbreaker to another'

By The Hub team, March 29, 2017

In honor of Women's History Month, each week we will profile one of the many strong and inspirational women of United. Follow along throughout the month of March to learn more about their stories.

CLE Customer Service Representative (CSR), Debbie Hovanitz

When Debbie was in seventh grade, her teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Debbie's father worked on the ramp in CLE, and knew she wanted to follow his lead into the industry. So, she took no time to answer -- she wanted to be a ticket agent for an airline.

On May 18, 1978, Debbie's goal was achieved when she, along with two other women, was hired by United as a skycap, becoming one of the first three females in that role. The groundbreaking hire was featured on Cleveland's ABC Channel 5 in a segment focusing on women working in traditionally male roles.

"They heard about United hiring us and, as the first women to be in such roles, it was a great story for them," recalled Debbie. "[Reporter] Wilma Smith came out to the airport and interviewed us on the curb. It was a really neat experience."

However, the job came with some difficulties. The newly hired women didn't receive much support from their male counterparts, nor from male customers.

"We received a lot of resentment, mainly from men," said Debbie. "Men didn't take kindly to women lifting their bags for them."

Despite the cold shoulders, Debbie kept on a path to success, helping United create a skycap uniform for women, and later being named "skycap of the year" for the Southeast Region in 1988. She worked as a skycap for 15 years until, in 1993, due to a reduction in flights out of CLE, skycap employees were furloughed. Thankfully, Debbie was asked to consider a job as a CSR, which she gladly accepted. Her success continued as a CSR and, in 1999, she was recognized as an annual winner for customer satisfaction.

After nearly 39 years at United, Debbie's favorite part of the day is having the opportunity to help people start their day off right. Although she has interacted with hundreds of thousands of customers throughout the years, there's one encounter from early in her career that she'll never forget.

"I remember a customer named Jackie Robinson [the first black athlete to play Major League Baseball in the 20th century]. As I carried his luggage for him, he kept saying to me, 'This is not a job for a woman,'" recalled Debbie. "I didn't realize then that we had something in common. So I look back at that encounter and salute Jackie, from one groundbreaker to another."

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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.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Airline and its customers use crowdsourcing platform - Miles on a Mission - to donate more than 11 million miles for charities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care
By United Newsroom, December 01, 2020

CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

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By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

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