Lidia Olguin is a Year Up Corporate Communications Intern at United, and in April she flew for the very first time, from Chicago to Los Angeles. Olguin would look up to the sky as a child and see planes take off from Chicago Midway, but she never saw herself as someone who would have the opportunity to fly one day. United changed that for her. We sat down with her to talk about her very first flying experience.
What do you do at United?
I am a student learner in Corporate Communications, supporting communications for frontline employees. I analyze and present data from our communications channels to share with our stakeholders. In addition, I collaborate with others on ad-hoc projects and support employee-driven initiatives. I am a part of the Year Up program, which is a fast-track, nonprofit organization with the mission of closing the opportunity gap.
What was it like packing for your very first flight? How did you feel?
I’m no stranger to packing, but I was nervous about what I could bring on board and through TSA. I texted teammates with questions like, “How I should pack my carry-on?” and “How early should I get to the airport?” With each answer, my anxiety eased, and I was ready at 4 a.m. for my 7:15 a.m. flight!
What was it like to fly for the first time? What was the Dreamliner like?
As I have observed the ins and outs of airline operations in my internship, my teammates have taught me the differences between our aircraft. Before my time at United, I didn’t know there were different types. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a great aircraft, and I am thankful I had the opportunity to experience it. It’s impressive that it can carry so many passengers. Also, the new seats and the upgrades are pretty fabulous!
Did you do anything special on the plane to commemorate your first flying experience?
I was able to check out the flight deck before we took off. The wonderful flight attendants helped me navigate my way up to the front of the aircraft and shared my excitement. I was able to meet the captain and first officer and sit down in their seats to get my photo taken—it was incredible. There were so many buttons! I have a lot of admiration for the flight attendants and the pilots. They are heroes for what they do day in and day out and for having the best interests of United customers [in mind], always putting safety first.
Why was this such an important experience for you?
I never saw myself traveling, as it wasn’t on my radar. Pictures don’t give the structures and landscape justice, and it’s better to be there in person to witness the finest details, using all of your senses. United offers the opportunity to travel the world, and I believe that is a privilege. It truly expands your horizons. Getting to experience different cultures is beautiful. Also, it was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean and palm trees!
What was your takeaway as a first-time flyer?
It’s important to take advantage of whatever opportunities arise. You never know what doors might open for you, but trust that doors will open wherever you are in your life journey. As you take off, the world underneath you becomes so small, and I tried to think about the lives of others and how they carry on. My worries or problems become small, as there is a world out there to explore.
Any advice to those who have never flown before or could be on their first flight right now?
It might make you uncomfortable to be out of your comfort zone, but take deep breaths when possible. Everything will be OK, and you’ll be at your destination soon. Bringing a book can help you pass the time, or you can even take a nap. If you’re by a window, look at the amazing landscapes! Traveling 30,000 feet above ground made me realize how beautiful Earth is.