Building inclusion

United strives to create an environment in our offices, airports and the world where acceptance and appreciation of everyone is the norm.

Our contributions support:

Programs designed to fight systemic racism.

Programs that amplify the voices of marginalized people including veterans, the LGBTQ+ community and those with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Programs that provide small and minority-owned businesses the resources needed to thrive and compete in the global economy.

Special Olympics

Our partnership with Special Olympics began in 2018 and while the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, Special Olympics World Games and other volunteer events we engage with around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies within the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics.

United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to making our world a better place. Since the launch of our Special Olympics Service Ambassador (SOSA) Program in 2019 at ORD we have doubled down on our commitment to the Special Olympics Inclusion Revolution by expanding to Houston, Denver and Washington DC. The 17 SOSAs working in our airports are part-time employees, who welcome our customers and help them find check-in kiosks, where to drop bags and how to find the TSA PreCheck line. They wear co-branded Special Olympics/United uniforms, and each SOSA has a mentor on site during their shift.

DEN Service Ambassador Hanna Atkinson has been a SOSA with United since 2021. She is an avid ambassador for the Special Olympics and has won several awards.

Many think that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) struggle in the workplace,” wrote Hanna. “This is an unfair opinion. People with IDD can rise to the expectations when given the time and support necessary to develop the tools to be successful.

ORD Service Ambassador Daniel Smrokowski, has been with United since the start of the program. He also has an impressive resume including being an award-winning podcaster, columnist, and an acclaimed advocate telling disability stories on his groundbreaking, global platform Special Chronicles.

I’m honored to hold the position of Service Ambassador at United Airlines,” continued Daniel. “The opportunity to be part of the United family means everything to me. I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gift of communication to help others.

Promoting inclusion with local, national and global non-profits

United is breaking down barriers and promoting inclusion by championing the work of local, national and global nonprofits that reflect our values, from fighting systemic racism to supporting veterans, the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities. Here are a few ways in which we’re doing this:

  • Funding summer internship program with the American Association of People with Disabilities providing college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in paid summer internships with Congressional offices, federal agencies, nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
  • Supporting diverse future aviation leaders through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Hispanic College Fund and Asian Pacific Islander American Scholars with financial contributions and representation at college job fairs to ensure the company has access to the best future diverse talent.
  • Collaborating with The Trevor Project and Human Rights Campaign to provide inclusive training for employees, ensure our uniform standards are inclusive and support policies that protect the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Diversifying air travel by providing scholarship funds and mentorship to organizations like Air Camp, Tuskegee Next, AeroStars, Red Tail Flyers and others to inspire young people to pursue careers in aviation.
  • Working closely with the United Service Organization to create connections for those leaving the military and integrate their skills into aviation-specific careers.