It is often the little things done behind the scenes that can make the biggest difference in terms of employee morale and therefore their motivation to deliver great service onboard, at airports, or on the phone; in some cases going above and beyond what is required. The Milestone Anniversaries Program is returning at United Airlines. Though truly a small gesture, it shows respect and support for employees and becomes a badge of courage in the case of flight attendants.
Milestone Anniversaries Program Returns At United Airlines
The Milestone Anniversaries Program at United Airlines is a way to recognize the longevity of employees working for United. Most visibly, you’d see diamond pins on the lapel wings of a flight attendant to recognize years of service. But when the pandemic began, United cut this program, citing its cost.
Now the program is returning. In a memo to employees reviewed by Live and Let’s Fly, United will resume the program and now clear the backlog of employees who celebrated milestone anniversaries over the last 20 months.
Active employees who celebrated their 5th, 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 40th, and 50th anniversary between June 2020 through November 2021 will receive a sterling silver pin to commemorate their service. Flight attendants will receive wing-shaped pins with stones that are commensurate with their years of service. Keep an eye out for this token of appreciation; distribution begins at the end of November.
Why This Matters
Do employees really care about a pin? From all the feedback I have received, the answer is YES. The diamonds in the pin, like the flight attendant wings pictured above, are nice enough. I’m not even sure they are real. But it becomes a way to express gratitude and appreciation and again shows that United is on the right track in terms of its upward ascent. It also represents a badge of courage, recognizing trials like the pandemic, 9/11, and bankruptcy employees have been through in a very cyclical industry. Those who have been with United for more than 20 years have truly seen a lot.
Certainly, even an announcement like this will not compensate for poor treatment. But that is not the case here. While employees at other airlines fume about scheduling, crew hotels, and other perceived deficiencies, there are no big grievances right now dividing any United employee group versus management (unless you could the return of pre-departure beverages).
United is restoring it Milestone Anniversaries Program. Though a small gesture, it is meaningful one in recognizing that employees who have spent their career with United.
I just passed 10 years with a large aircraft manufacturer HQ’d in Chicago and all I got was a cheap $20 Onyx ring. They do gifts all the way out to 75 years, but they are all pretty much the same after 35. Spend 70 years and all you get is a watch valued around $300 or the even better prize of a Coleman Major League Tailgating Package at an even better value around $450.
Do the 50 year anniversary FAs get walkers as well?
As one who received his 25-year pin, I can tell you with absolute certainty it matters to the employees, no matter what the basket of negative issues they have to deal with every day.
The diamonds are in fact real. I was curious and a flight attendant gave me the rundown and even showed me a sheet they use to order them! They pay for those diamonds! Mind you a fraction of the actual cost but still a large cost (several $100 for diamonds). I thought they were given for free considering United made it seem like a huge deal when they took the program away…. I was told the flight attendant covers the cost. There is a separate pin you get for free for years of service that is still nice but not a diamond lol.
Hi Adam! I’m sorry but that isn’t true. The milestone wings (5, 10, 15, etc) are given to the flight attendant by the company. Before COVID they were allowed to choose the wings or an item from a catalog instead, the items offered depended on your years of service. They cancelled the program altogether at the beginning of COVID but if u still wanted to you could purchase the wings on your own. Now the Anniversary wings are back but not the items in the catalog. Just thought I would clarify.
And yes the free Anniversary pins have the diamonds!
The problem with this is it shows you who’s responsible for making the big 3 the worst rated in service in the world. People are right when they point out that being a flight attendant shouldn’t be a life long career. It is a job best suited for young people under 30 who like the lifestyle, have fun with their friends, and don’t want to embarrass themselves by performing poorly. Once they have families, they move on to other careers. These lifers tend to be jaded and tend to milk the airline. Look at all the non rev nonsense that fills up premium cabins and takes away from the experience.
I’m a retired United pilot. The length of service tells you nothing about how good a flight attendant will be. The best flight attendants at United, by a wide margin, are our former Pan Am ones. The difference is training, not how old they are.
You are speaking from the perspective of a pilot. From the perspective of passengers, a 60 year old walking briskly down the aisles isn’t likely to be as attentive, able, and gleeful as someone who is 25 and isn’t drained by 40 years of pouring drinks and serving meals. Sure, other demographics play a role in the difference between U.S. carriers and those of Europe/Asia/the Middle East. Still, age is a big factor. It’s this way in hotels in Europe where most front desks are staffed by young attractive women and men with the older concierge. Youth is an asset in service fields. The skills of a pilot are like wine. Flight attendants are in a different boat. I don’t think it takes flight attendants 25 years to learn how to pour and serve better.
As a Flight Attendant who has 15 years and plans to make this job my lifetime career, I could not disagree with you more. I absolutely love my job and continue to have a passion for making everyone of my passengers’ flight as comfortable as possible. I can tell you that I am a better flight attendant than I was 10, 5, and, even 1 year ago. I learn things from every trip that work and respond to situations more efficiently and effectively the more they pop up. I can tell you I definitely learn a lot each time I work with a senior flight attendant who still has a passion for this job. I’m sorry you’ve had some bad encounters. I’m not saying every senior flight attendant is perfect, there are bad apples everywhere, but please have some respect for those who really care and love what they do.
Wow Wow Wow… Are you kiddding me… some of the very best flight attendants are the flight attendants who have been flying for 25 plus years…. some new flight attendants are just as great…but some young fairly new flight attendants are not so great… calling in sick when they have a party to go to…or are too hung over…. I can’t wait to see how long you make it as a flight attendant Amy Fischer… hopefully you’ll abide by your comment and leave after you’ve been here for a few years…. We Do Not Need Flight Attendants with your attitude.
Seriously?!? You actually wrote down your agist views on a public forum? I’ve been flying for 54 yrs & have had seasoned travelers say they would choose my crews over those of many foreign carriers. And what kind of work do you do, Ms Fischer? And how long can you do it before your lifestyle gets in the way?
I’m a nerd, so I belong to a TWA Facebook group with a lot of retirees. The FA’s still talk about their pins, and family members of FA’s talk about how important they were to their family members. It’s good to bring them back.
I don’t think Delta ever stopped their milestone anniversary lapel-pins program.
I’ve had the pleasure of flying with Ms Sammy when she worked the HNL-GUM-HNL not stops. I have not seen her in a while and I wonder if she’s still working. She is one of the best in the air from the HNL base. Thanks for providing insight on this program – I’ll be more mindful when I look at their name tags.
In today’s world of people changing jobs to follow money, and companies chopping more senior employees to save money, any recognition of extended service is a great honor for employees who love their job and their employers.
It doesn’t have to be a huge money item – many times just the recognition itself is enough. It always feels good to be appreciated.
Amy has it exactly right.
How about they get a diamond for every 25 positive passenger letters…
As long as UA rewards “seniority” over good service, it will continue to have some of the crappiest service in the world. This will continue to be its biggest challenge. At the very least, they should go the Lufthansa route and have a swim test every two years, and dump the obese, unfit FAs.
Interesting comment. I just had 2 passengers tell me I ranked better with them than Lufthansa mostly because I had a sense of humor to go with the good service.
Was wondering if possible that those who took the VSP retirement packages in 2020 and were to celebrate a milestone anniversary, that they could be eligible for receiving a belated milestone present?
what happened to 35 ? those of us that are here 35years and up are part of the foundation that built this company from the bottom up. can you please let us all know why ???
is anyone know,
how can I buy United airlines flight attended wings pin.
the new one,
without diamonds. ?
Current issue wings are not permitted for sale on eBay, but that marketplace is your best bet.