As 2020 comes to a close, and we look forward to starting a new chapter in 2021, I can’t help but think back on where we were as an airline a year ago. As the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting to unfold, I never would have imagined that in the weeks and months ahead the strength and resilience of United Airlines would far exceed even my wildest expectations.
Hope has never been and will never be our strategy. Instead, the best collection of airline professionals in the business confronted the crisis head-on, and that approach has allowed us to take industry-leading actions across our business.
Our first action was our number one priority: safety—ensuring every single point of your journey is as safe as possible. We continue to expand our CleanPlus efforts, in partnership with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic, to create the safest possible travel experience for you and your family. We also partnered with the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on rigorous scientific analysis to demonstrate how the airflow onboard an aircraft creates a uniquely safe environment by preventing the spread of aerosolized particles among passengers and crew.
Beyond safety, we instituted measures to give all customers more flexibility, eliminating change fees on all standard economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. For our premier customers, we automatically extended their status by a full year. We also added industry-first digital capabilities, including Shop by Maps and our Travel Destination Guide, and made updates to our industry-leading app to make it more accessible for all customers.
Recently, we were the first U.S. airline to announce our COVID-19 testing program for customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii, as well as a new testing program on select flights from our Newark hub to Europe. We are continuing to look for similar opportunities throughout our network.I am proud of all we have accomplished in such a short period of time. It’s a result of our determination to adapt to our customers’ changing travel needs.
Now, we are ready to shift our focus from just trying to survive to preparing for our much-anticipated comeback. As we look ahead, the beginning of next year will be difficult too, and the recovery will not be a straight line. But, as I like to say, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can see the recovery on the horizon, and this is where we will focus our attention moving forward.
I want to sincerely thank you, our loyal customers, for choosing United, and let you know that when you’re ready to travel, we’ll be here, ready to welcome you back on board to once again Fly the Friendly Skies in 2021.
Next Up: Three Perfect Days in Oahu