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Thank You, 85,000 Times Over

United celebrates Employee Appreciation Week

Author Ryan Hood


Phoenix threw a fiesta, Chengdu hosted a Sichuan hot pot dinner, and United management headed to other airports and offices across the globe to show appreciation for the airline’s 85,000 employees—all as part of the company’s first Employee Appreciation Week in January.

“We have improved our operational performance and are making meaningful strides toward enhancing the customer experience, all of which is made possible because of our employees’ enthusiasm, dedication, and strong desire to make United great,” says United’s acting CEO, Brett Hart. “Each of our employees plays a role in getting our customers where they need to be, on time. Thanks to all of them for all of their contributions in 2015, and for everything they’ll do in 2016.”

While “Voices” is typically the story of one United employee, this month, we recognize all United employees and share some of the compliments they have received from our customers.

Unparalleled Compassion

An elderly man with dementia was flying alone without any advance notice to United about his needs. Within minutes after takeoff, the man began demanding to get off the plane, believing he was on a bus. To the relief of passengers, Newark-based flight attendant Felicia McMillan was there to comfort him for the duration of the flight.

“Felicia spent much of her time calmly and lovingly reorienting the passenger, walking him and attending to him with unparalleled compassion,” a customer on that flight says. “I am a registered nurse, and I have not seen many highly trained nurses accomplish what Felicia did with such grace.”

Have no fear, the pilots are here

Despite flying many times before, a customer’s young daughter developed anxiety about air travel before a recent United flight.

Prior to departure, Chicago-based captain Kevin Nawracaj and first officer Lars Johnsen took the young girl into the cockpit, walked her through their duties to get everyone safely to Denver, and even printed out a copy of the flight plan so she could follow along. 

“If not for the kindness and generosity consistently shown by the United crews, my daughter probably wouldn’t get on another airplane,” the customer says. “So, I say, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!”

Above and Beyond

A customer lost consciousness while clearing customs in Sao Paulo en route to Newark to see family for the holidays. Sao Paulo–based customer service representative Fabio Pairol, along with other employees and airport personnel, tended to the man, and he was taken to a local hospital. Pairol went to the hospital to visit the customer as soon as his shift ended, giving new meaning to going “above and beyond.”

“A company is made of people, and a great company is made of employees such as Fabio Pairol,” the customer’s relative says. “He made our holiday season particularly special.” 

Appreciation for those whom customers don’t normally thank

Customers don’t usually get the chance to thank every employee involved in ensuring they get where they want to go, when they’re supposed to be there. This customer recognizes the commitment to flyer-friendly service that United employees strive for.

“There are a lot of folks behind the scenes who all deserve a thank you from those of us who ride regularly and depend on United to get us to the meetings, events, and activities that are critical to the future of our businesses. On my last trip of the year this past weekend, I made a point to say thank you to the ticket agents, gate agents, ramp supervisors, ramp personnel, mechanics, etc., who normally don’t hear pleasant words from customers. Customers really appreciate their dedication to making United run on time and comfortably.”

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