Carrying the Torch - United Hub

Carrying the torch

By Matt Adams, March 07, 2018

It's what Washington/Dulles-based First Officer Sarah Micklo calls "that old stigma," one that somehow continues to permeate corners of the aviation industry: the idea that women pilots aren't as good as their male counterparts. "At least one or two people during my career have said women don't belong in the cockpit," recalled Sarah. "I'm far from the first to ever hear that, but I hope I'll be one of the last."

It's a bogus notion, of course, and one that Sarah herself has helped quash for nearly 20 years as a military and civilian pilot. When asked where she found the strength to fight on anytime that old stereotype reared its ugly head, Sarah points to her family. Her mom, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ginny Logan, was the first woman in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard to lead a squadron and the first woman in the Air Force to command a combat unit. Ginny met and married Sarah's dad, retired Lt. Col. Ted Logan, when they were both stationed in Laredo, Texas, and together they made sure Sarah and her siblings never saw gender as a limitation. You'd think that, given that influence, it would be no surprise that Sarah grew up to become a pilot, but the truth is she had little interest in it as a child. Only after enlisting in the Air National Guard to help pay for college did that change.

"I was a traditional guard member in my unit in Pittsburgh," Sarah said, "and during my senior year of college, we were activated to Germany supporting Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. I was in the maintenance squadron, and my dad, an evaluator pilot, was the detachment commander. That's when I got an up-close look at flying and what the aircrews were doing, and decided it was what I wanted to do."

Once back stateside, Sarah began flight training and was hired as a pilot in her unit, entering flight school as the only woman in her class. While backing Sarah's aspirations, Ginny and Ted painted a realistic picture for their daughter, telling her that, at times, she might be treated differently but reminding her to never doubt her abilities. Sarah took that advice to heart, but she still felt immense pressure to succeed, not only for herself but for the sisterhood of women flyers everywhere.

United First-Officer Sarah Micklo pictured with crew

"It was important to me to make it work," she said, "because I had a mom and dad and a husband [Sarah is married to United Flight Instructor David Micklo] who were very successful. Not to mention I didn't want to be the female pilot who failed or the one nobody wanted to fly with. If you only have four women pilots and one is bad, then people may look at it and generalize and say, 'Well, a quarter of female pilots are bad.' Unfortunately, sometimes that's the way it is, and a lot of women before me worked hard to fight that. I love my job and I just want to do it really well."

After graduating flight school, Sarah went on to fly KC-135 Stratotankers, and eventually became her unit's first female instructor pilot. She still flies today as a lieutenant colonel with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 171st Air Refueling Wing when she's not flying Boeing 737s here at United.

Sarah said she's witnessed a cultural shift over the years when it comes to acceptance of women in the flight deck, and she praised her fellow women pilots for stepping up to support one another as they've fought to make those strides. United pilots even have an informal message board group called "UAL Venus List," where women can share their experiences and buoy each other when times get tough. And through her work with groups like Women in Aviation International and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, as well as with her Air National Guard unit, Sarah is passing on that encouragement.

"When I talk with young people and prospective pilots, I have the same conversation with the women as I do with the men," she said, "but I tell females that sometimes they'll have to work harder, and that it will feel like they have higher standards to uphold. My goal is to one day give my speech and not have to say that. I think we've come a long way, and I hope we'll get to the point where, for the next generation of women pilots, it's something they don't even have to think about. I look forward to the day when being a woman pilot isn't a big deal."

Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

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