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Charting the Course

United charter flight operations senior manager Mitch Scott helps people get where they want to go both on and off the job

Author Ryan Hood

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Some people spend their childhoods on baseball fields, some play in the school band, others grow up on a farm. United charter flight operations senior manager Mitch Scott was raised on airplanes. 

The son of an oil company employee, Scott moved a lot as a kid, growing up in Europe and in the Middle East. Traveling many hours on planes left quite an impression on Scott, who started taking flying lessons at age 15, earned his commercial license at 18, and has been an industry lifer ever since.

“I vividly remember flying on a Boeing 747 as a third-grader,” Scott recalls. “What kid doesn’t enjoy an airplane ride?”

Nearly four decades later, Scott, 54, blends his lifelong love and passion for the airline industry with his unmatched aviation knowledge to support United’s air charter operation. He meticulously reviews proposed destinations for charter service, ensuring that United has the necessary aircraft type and can safely operate to the destination. He’s part of a team that vets these locations before United’s charter sales group completes the sale.

“Safety is our biggest priority,” Scott says. “We operate these flights into destinations not always flown to by commercial aircraft, whether that means a nation in the Eastern Bloc or an airstrip in a small college town here at home. We really have to be prepared in these situations. There’s no room for error.”

Each charter operation presents unique challenges, ranging from navigation, runway size, Air Traffic Control resources, and a host of other factors. Scott’s encyclopedic knowledge and awareness of the industry allow him to advise the charter team and brief the pilots on the intricacies of each flight. 

The operational excellence and high level of customer service provided by United’s charter business have led to an increase in the company’s charter clientele, which includes the U.S. military, National Football League and Major League Baseball teams, college sports teams, and corporate customers.  

“Our folks go above and beyond to deliver a consistent, on-time, and reliable product,” United charters managing director Kevin Ross says. “The professionalism of our entire team—from inflight to the operations center to the ramp—has helped us grow the business steadily as we continue to build upon the charter experience’s strong reputation at United.”

United operated charter service for 38 teams during the 2015 football season, flying 23 college football teams and 15 NFL teams—the company’s most ever, and more than any other carrier. The NFL champion Denver Broncos were among those teams, and Scott helped ensure that the team’s travels in and out of San Jose International Airport for February’s Super Bowl went flawlessly. Helping get people where they want to go is what Scott is all about, both professionally and personally. 

Aside from shepherding football stars, Scott has mentored countless United employees in his 18-plus years with the company. One such co-worker is 787 first officer and flight manager Nancy Barteczko. 

“He truly has a tremendous wealth of knowledge when it comes to the airline industry, and looking out for others is simply Mitch’s spirit,” Barteczko says. “He’s a go-to for career advice and is always encouraging you to believe in yourself and to push yourself to take on difficult challenges.” 

What Scott enjoys most about his job, though, is helping to figure out solutions to the unique challenges that each charter client and each charter flight pose.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen on a day-to-day basis with regards to who wants to fly, where, when, and how,” he says. “Different clients have different needs. No two days are ever the same at this job—and that’s what I love most.” 

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