PR Newswire | October 06, 2023
United Airlines today announced new technologies and policies to improve the travel experience for customers who use a wheelchair, including a new digital filter on united.com that helps determine which aircraft can accommodate different sized chairs, and refunding the fare difference if a higher-fare flight is needed to accommodate a specific wheelchair size. United expects to launch these new tools early next year.
"By offering customers an easy way to know if their personal wheelchair fits on a particular airplane, we can give them the peace of mind they deserve when they fly with us," said Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for United. "Plus, collecting this information ahead of time ensures our team can handle these special items with proper care and attention."
New Flight Filter and Fare Reimbursement
The new flight filter on united.com will enable customers to enter the unique dimensions of their personal wheelchair as part of the flight search. The search results will then prioritize flight options on aircraft with cargo hold doors large enough to accommodate the wheelchair dimensions. The size of aircraft cargo hold doors varies, so some aircraft are better able than others to handle larger motorized wheelchairs, which must travel upright.
If a customer is unable to take a preferred flight because their wheelchair will not fit through the aircraft's cargo door – and takes a United flight with a higher-fare that can accommodate their wheelchair on the same day and between the same origin and destination – the customer may seek a refund of the fare difference. Customers seeking a refund of the fare difference will need to follow United's process, including completing a short form after they've traveled. United will promptly ensure they receive the difference in fare after review.
Airport Experience Improvement Program
Later this year United will begin a six-month pilot program at George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport to explore ways to better accommodate customers in the unlikely event their wheelchair was damaged or delayed while traveling. The program will focus on the timeframe between a customer's arrival and when United returns the wheelchair or provides an appropriate loaner wheelchair if the original is damaged. United will collaborate with its Accessible Travel Advisory Board to explore several initiatives aimed at improving the airport experience during this challenging period, including providing specialized seating onsite and reimbursing the customer for transportation expenses should they choose to wait at a location other than the airport.
United entered an agreement earlier this month with the U.S. Department of Transportation to deliver these initiatives through a mutual commitment to increase accessibility and improve the travel experience for customers who require the use of a wheelchair. United carried about 150,000 wheelchairs in 2022.
United's other recent measures to improve accessibility include:
Providing ramp agents new mobile technology that indicates when a wheelchair is on a flight to ensure they are prepared to receive and load it. The technology also inhibits ramp agents from closing out a flight until they acknowledge that they've loaded all wheelchairs.
In August, United became the first U.S. airline to add Braille to aircraft interiors, helping millions of travelers with visual disabilities more easily navigate the cabin independently. United expects to outfit its entire mainline fleet with Braille by the end of 2026.
The United mobile app was recently redesigned to make it easier to use for people with visual disabilities with increased color contrast, more space between graphics and reordering how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with the screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack.
United's latest Inflight Seatback Entertainment screens offer a wide range of accessible features such as closed captioning, text-to-speech controls, magnification, explore-by-touch capabilities, audio-described movies, and adjustable and high-contrast text and color correction. As part of United Next, the airline's historic growth plan, the carrier expects to take delivery of about 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft by the end of 2032, all of which will include the latest in seatback screen entertainment options.
Through Bridge, United's Business Resource Group for people of all abilities, employees help create a workplace environment where all can strive to achieve their maximum potential and support our commitment to being an ally for customers with disabilities.
For the eighth-straight year, United was recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion and earned a top score on the Disability Equality Index benchmarking tool, a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN, to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities.
At United, Good Leads The WaySM. With U.S. hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., United operates the most comprehensive global route network among North American carriers and is now the largest airline in the world as measured by available seat miles. For more about how to join the United team, please visit www.united.com/careers and more information about the company is at www.united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc., the parent company of United Airlines, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".
Destination and Tourism
Spirit Airlines | September 15, 2023
Spirit Airlines partners with Liberty University to launch the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program, focusing on nurturing the next generation of skilled pilots.
Liberty University aviation students can apply for the program after their sophomore year and a faculty recommendation, gaining conditional employment offers from Spirit Airlines, mentorship, and essential resources.
The program enhances the academic experience at Liberty University and aligns with Spirit Airlines' commitment to developing a proficient and motivated pilot workforce.
The company emphasizes its growth, new aircraft acquisitions, and improved pilot benefits, offering a promising future for Liberty Aeronautics graduates.
On September 14, 2023, Spirit Airlines, a leading customizable travel options provider, has announced a collaboration with Liberty University to cultivate the next generation of pilots. Spirit Airlines has unveiled the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program, a strategic initiative to expand its pool of skilled aviators. This innovative program, hosted at Liberty University's School of Aeronautics in Lynchburg, Virginia, marks a significant milestone in the airline's mission to bolster its ranks of professional pilots.
Liberty University students pursuing aviation degrees benefit from this partnership. Students may apply to the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program after completing their sophomore year and obtaining a faculty recommendation. Successful candidates will receive conditional employment offers from Spirit Airlines, essential resources like a Spirit Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and invaluable mentorship opportunities. As they progress through their academic journey and accumulate flight hours, program participants will ultimately step into the role of a Spirit First Officer, contributing to the airline's commitment to excellence in aviation. This initiative enhances the educational experience at Liberty University and reinforces Spirit Airlines' dedication to cultivating a highly skilled and motivated pilot workforce.
Ryan Rodosta, Senior Director of Flight Operations and System Chief Pilot at Spirit Airlines, shared,
We put a lot of hard work into developing the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program and assembling a great group of partners making it incredibly rewarding to reach this key milestone. Liberty University offers a premier pilot training program designed to provide graduates with the skills to lead in the aviation field, and Spirit's growth creates opportunities for those graduates to achieve their dreams with us."
[Source – Cision PR Newswire]
Spirit's Pilots fly some of the industry's newest, most fuel-efficient aircraft to 90+ destinations across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Eight brand-new Airbus A321neo aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2023, creating opportunities for First Officers to get promoted to Captain quickly. Recently, Spirit's pilots ratified a contract that includes a substantial pay raise and improved benefits. In addition to industry-leading training, Spirit provides its pilots with an exceptional quality of life.
The partnership would open exceptional prospects for their graduates, offering Liberty-trained aviation professionals a distinctive pathway to Spirit Airlines upon meeting the requisite training and experience standards. Rick Roof, Dean of the School of Aeronautics, emphasized that Spirit Airlines would gain access to pilots distinguished by their outstanding technical competencies and character, making them valuable contributors to the aerospace sector. He further noted that Liberty Aeronautics graduates could envision themselves as integral members of the Spirit team, enjoying the advantages of being associated with a renowned industry leader and operating some of the most advanced aircraft worldwide.
Travel Technology, Hospitality Management
Business Wire | October 16, 2023
Hilton celebrated the grand opening of Spark by Hilton Mystic Groton, solidifying the company’s foray into the premium economy segment. With more than 400 opportunities in various stages of development, the first-ever Spark by Hilton made its debut just eight months after Hilton announced the new, conversion-only brand in January of this year.
Located less than half a mile from I-95, Spark by Hilton Mystic Groton is nestled in the historic maritime town of Mystic, Connecticut, with iconic landmarks including The Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport Museum, Olde Mistick Village and the Mystic Bascule Drawbridge nearby. The hotel is also less than two miles away from local shops and restaurants in Mystic’s quaint downtown.
“In partnership with Distinctive Hospitality Group, we are thrilled to welcome guests into the very first Spark by Hilton. This breakthrough premium economy brand builds on Hilton’s continued work to develop new brands and provide a hotel for every traveler and every stay occasion,” said Matt Schuyler, chief brand officer, Hilton. “Spark is our fastest announcement-to-market brand in Hilton’s history, and we are excited to grow our portfolio of world-class brands with many more Sparks on the horizon.”
Spark by Hilton Mystic Groton features 120 comfortable and relaxing guest rooms and a seasonal outdoor pool. Other signature elements of Spark by Hilton hotels include:
A 24-hour retail market and a simple, complimentary breakfast, featuring premium coffee, juice and a signature bagel bar with spreads.
Public space with multi-functional seating from communal tables to rocking chairs, offering plenty of options for guests to enjoy breakfast, socialize or work throughout the day.
Guest rooms outfitted with practical amenities, including simple, streamlined furniture, an open closet, an in-room refrigerator, a multi-purpose work surface and a bright bathroom.
Simple, inspired design with splashes of color, vibrant exterior statement walls and energizing artwork.
“At Spark by Hilton, our approach to hospitality is all about ensuring that every traveler can enjoy exceptional quality without sacrificing affordability,” said Alissa Klees, brand leader, Spark by Hilton. “As we celebrate the opening of our inaugural Spark in Mystic, it marks the start of a journey to reshape travel and disrupt the premium economy segment while expanding our customer and owner base.”
The grand opening of Spark by Hilton Mystic Groton was celebrated today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and remarks from Matt Schuyler, chief brand officer, Hilton; Alissa Klees, brand leader, Spark by Hilton; and Lou Carrier, president, Distinctive Hospitality Group. Photos from the grand opening event can be found here.
“Needless to say, we’re thrilled with being the first Spark by Hilton to be opened,” said Lou Carrier, president, Distinctive Hospitality Group. “We’re extremely confident the Mystic/Eastern Connecticut marketplace will present the diversified business drivers to allow our 120-room hotel to flourish. Additionally, we are already seeing an incredible mix of Hilton Honors members giving trial to the new brand as well as never before Hilton Honors members signing up to join the loyalty program. Hilton is clearly redefining the economy segment with Spark!”
Spark by Hilton Mystic Groton is part of Hilton Honors, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s distinct hotel brands. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else and free standard Wi-Fi. Members also enjoy popular digital tools available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors mobile app, where Hilton Honors members can check-in, choose their room and access their room using a Digital Key.
About Spark by Hilton
The newest addition to the Hilton portfolio, Spark by Hilton is a premium economy hotel brand at the intersection of value and consistency. Spark by Hilton provides a reliable and comfortable stay with friendly service for every guest, all at an accessible price. Spark by Hilton hotels provide a welcoming sense of arrival with colorful accent walls and inspiring artwork. The public spaces provide multi-functional seating, from communal tables to rocking chairs, and guest rooms are comfortable and relaxing with simple, streamlined furniture. In the morning, travelers can enjoy a complimentary signature bagel bar and premium coffee.