Here’s How United Airlines Is Handling Remote Work For Management

United Airlines has to be the one of the most remote work-averse employers in the country, at least based on this e-mail from Kate Gebo, Executive Vice President Human Resources and Labor Relations at United Airlines, that was sent at the end of the week.

To be sure there are tasks that have to be completed on site for management employees. There are crucial staff involved in pushing tin, but the bulk of United’s junior and middle managers don’t need to be in the office every day in the face of a pandemic.

Remote work requires individual approval. The message here seems to be that as United is looking at all ways to cut costs, you’d better show up at your desks and look busy. If you’re a primary caregiver to a child that no longer has school or daycare in session due to coronavirus? “[S]ick time, vacation or unpaid time off is an option” as well as taking a voluntary leave of absence.

To our United Management Team,

As you know, things are extremely fluid with respect to the COVID-19 (coronovirus) situation, and as a result, policies and guidelines from governments and organizations around the world are changing rapidly. All of our domestic airports remain open. We are asking that our employees across the system continue to provide caring service for our customers and fellow employees. Our Chicago and Houston CSC locations also remain open as some of our team members functions need to operate from a United facility.

For those of you who perform functions that do not require the infrastructure of a United facility, use our core4 framework to talk with your leader on whether remove work accommodation is available for the next 30 days.

We know that some schools and childcare facilities are closed as a result of this situation. If you’re the caregiver for your children we understand that you may have a situation where you cannot coordinate emergency childcare. If you’re unable to report to work, and you hold a non-operational position, we ask that you reach out to your manager and work together, again using our core4 framework to help you make the decision about whether remote work, sick time, vacation or unpaid time off is an option. Remember that the Company-Offered Leave of Absence (COLA) and reduced schedule may be available, as well as the new 2020 Special Vacation Buy option.

A big thank you to the Digital Technology team, who has provided some resources to support employees who are working remotely. If this is the first time you will be working remotely, you may need to configure software before you leave the office. If you have previously used VPN when working remotely, changes have been made to ensure we have enough capacity and you will also need to configure software if you haven’t already. You can find VPN configuration instructions, guidelines for remote work (for both managers and employees) and other resources on the Remote Work page on Flying Together. Please be sure to review this information before leaving the office today.

Thank you all for continuing to take such amazing care of our customers and each other through this challenging time. Things are changing so fast. My personal ask of each of you, while it’s often hard to fit it in – especially now – please remember that self-care is important too!


Hopefully Willis Tower in Chicago doesn’t get its own dot on the Johns Hopkins University map.

If you work at another airline, how does your policy compare?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. work from home for everyone in the office is not possible due to pipe constrains (for example we have 7000 essential employees and only 1000 concurrent Citrix license / and only 1 tB Bandwith)

  2. I very much appreciate your coverage of fluid and dramatic changes in the industry. While some other sites continue slinging credit cards, you are providing interesting updates and actionable advice. Thanks, and I will continue reading.

  3. @Gary
    Why do you find it unreasonable for supervisors to have a say in how often employees work remotely? That’s normal in most workplaces.

    Also, are you saying that employees should be given credit for working an 8 hour day remotely if they are also performing childcare tasks during those 8 hours?

  4. Not sure how this is to be interpreted as remote work averse; it simply says to talk to your supervisor if you’d prefer to work from home. In fact, I work for United at Willis and all non-essential employees were told to work remotely as much as possible starting last Tuesday, March 17th.

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