Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Because of United...

It's a time of reflection as the new year stands waiting there, next week, just a few days away.  Whether I stop to think about the past or not, 2013 will be here and then it will become the past, too.  Time marches on and all that. 

Today I am thinking about all that my employment at United has brought me:  a spouse, friends, travels, education, enlightenment, frustration, tears, family time, a good salary, security, health care, a future with a small pension, a 401(k), health benefits and flight benefits for life.  It might take me a few posts to highlight them all.  Let me reflect on the travel I have done because I have worked for an airline.  I'm sure I'll forget some places, there have been so many...

I grew up traveling, with my first plane flight on American Airlines to El Paso when I was not yet 3 years old.  That was followed by family vacations in the station wagon, driving across country to see my grandparents in Virginia and in Iowa (sometimes at their summer home in Minnesota); to see my mother's childhood home in Iowa and my dad's in Arkansas, to see every national and state park we could.  I hopped over the border to Mexico and to Canada.  I took my first trip to Europe in 1985, followed by one in 1986.  I left my job at EF Hutton Life Insurance/1st Capital Life Insurance with a one way ticket to Europe and stayed almost 6 months.

When I came back I needed a job.  What would better suit my wanderlust than a job with an airline?  When I started with United, in the Los Angeles reservations office, you had to work for the company for a year before you received flight benefits, but you were given 1 trip prior to that to try the product.  I flew to New York City for the very first time with my classmate and friend Claudia Blancett.  From there I hopped down to Washington, DC to visit my grandmother in Woodbridge, VA, then home.  Just a few months later the rules were changed to only 6 months seniority for the flight benefits and off to Maui I went with Kathi Porter.  And then you couldn't stop me.

New Orleans, Kauai, Honolulu, San Francisco, New York again, Washington again, Maine for shopping, anywhere in New England for snow and foliage, Colorado, Texas, Utah for skiing.  Buenos Aires with Carol Dreher and Costa Rica with Marcy Clarke for vacations. France with Peggy, Italy with Jayne.  Denmark to see family, England with Teri, Scotland with Laura, Ireland with Troy, cruises with Sharon, John and Keary.  I reacquainted with Cameron Larson, a guy from UCLA days, while on a connection in Denver.  We started dating and then it was Hawaii, New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago, London and Paris with Cam.

In 1998 I took a job with United in Chicago, moving from my beloved San Diego to the Chicago suburbs in January.  This job with United Services, my favorite of my UA career, was selling line maintenance services to other airlines.  Airlines around the world.  This meant 200,000 miles a year in travel, negotiating contracts in Australia, China, Korea, Spain, England, Argentina, Thailand, and other places around the globe.  That photo at the top is me sitting in the captain's seat of the British Airways SST Concorde at Heathrow.  That's Matt Robinson on the right, to whom I was turning over the BA account when I left that job.  My first trip with the United Services job was to China.

I'll pick up on the next post where I went from there.

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