Yesterday was a special day for the unsuspecting passengers of UA1981, a midday flight from Houston to Chicago. Turns out they had boarded a flight 40 years in the making.
UA1981, A Special Flight To Commemorate 40 Years Of MileagePlus
UA1981 left Houston (IAH) shortly after noon on Thursday, bound for Chicago (ORD). The flight number was unique to the day, tracing back 40 years to 1981, the year that MileagePlus was founded, United’s loyalty program.
Present onboard the fight were a team of hand-chosen flight attendants, all of them who were also celebrating 40 years with United Airlines this year.
At the gate prior to boarding, Luc Bondar and Mike Hanna showed up and began making remarks. Bondar is United’s Vice President of marketing & Loyalty and President of MileagePlus while Hanna is United’s Senior Vice President of Airport Operations. The men talked about the history of MileagePlus and promised the future was bright.
The celebration continued onboard. Each passengers onboard received a MileagPlus gift bag with items including a deck of cards made just for the occasion and portable charger.
During the flight, Bondar hosted a MileagePlus trivia game for customers onboard and upon descent, he revealed that everyone onboard would receive a complimentary one-year subscription to CLEAR, a generous walk-away gift.
This is a nice story not only for what occurred at the gate and onboard, but because we have reached a point in our fight against the pandemic that we feel safe doing such activities. Think back to even earlier this year – such frivolity would have sparked outrage. But we’re making progress, approaching a new normal, and more than the flight itself, I was simply happy to see a special event on airplane.
Later today, I’ll take a more critical look at the current state of MileagePlus and how United Airlines should look ahead to the next 40 years.
images: United Airlines