United Airlines Sets New Diversity Goal For Passengers

At least 50% of passengers dragged off of planes to be women or minorities by 2030.

They don’t, however, appear to be ready to prioritize elite upgrades based on disadvantaged status.

United Airlines announced today that it would train 5000 new pilots by 2030, at least half of which would be women or people of color. They’re sending out the press release now, but the goal is one that will be met or not long after most people involved are gone from the airline.

This follows a statement from the Chicago-based carrier at the beginning of the week which condemned legislation which “infringes on the right to vote” without calling out any particular state, piece of legislation, or specific tactic.

In last November’s election United supported a ballot measure in California which would have re-introduced considering race in decisions on public employment, educational admittance, and government contracting. They also reminded employees about the company’s speech codes.

In the fall committed to choosing board members based on race and followed through in February. However when United furloughed 16,000 employees in October 2020 they didn’t use race as a factor. Perhaps future collective bargaining negotiations will fight for this flexibility.

Nor by the way did they prioritize customers for refunds based on race during the pandemic – until the Department of Transportation stepped in, they were color blind in their refusal to refund tickets for cancelled flights.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. “United Airlines announced today that it would train 5000 new pilots by 2030, at least half of which would be women or people of color.”

    Its not fair, they are discriminating against children’s. At least 25 percent of the pilots should be less than 18 years old and another 25% should go for 3nd and 4th gender.



  3. Gary –

    I’m genuinely asking – was this supposed to be satire or were you making a specific political statement?

    If the former, it fails because it was too close to the sorts of things you genuinely hear on Newsmax, OANN, etc.

    If the latter, it’s deeply disappointing because while it’s difficult to separate politics from business in 2021, when addressed it should be done in a thoughtful, sober way. This was neither thoughtful nor sober.

    You’re a professional commentator regarding the airline industry. Stick to your lane and leave the social commentary to others who are better at it.

  4. Don’t listen to the haters Gary. Your voice of reason in an insane time is a breath of fresh air. These so-called corporate diversity initiatives are the most cynical kind of virtue-signalling and pandering. Not to mention they are explicitly and systemically racist. Your platform and ability to generate revenue independently (without a salary tied to taking the right “woke” viewpoints in the workplace) allows you to speak truth to power in a way the rest of us are not able to do without losing our livelihoods. Please keep up the great work and do not back down to the mob. Your authenticity is your power and will keep the clicks coming.

  5. @Gary, so it’s your position that UA and other airlines should not try to recruit and train a more diverse set of pilots? Are the default options—white men—who know of, have access to, and choose the opportunity, naturally the most qualified people for the job?

  6. Diversity is fine as long as *every* candidate still meets the original minimum standards requirements — *No* dumbing down for diversity quotas, as passengers’ lives are at stake with these types of jobs!

  7. @Greg – I was pointing out that United virtue signals on these issues but in practice it rarely seems to influence their operation, and even here there’s little accountability since they’ve articulated 2030 goals that the folks making the announcement likely won’t be around to see.

    I don’t think I’ve ever watched OANN or Newsmax (and I do not know if in fact that is a channel).

  8. If there was one job you would hope will not be subject to diversity quotas it would be airline pilots. Society is sick where the religion of diversity is allowed to impact hiring decisions in such matters. Literally life and death.

  9. @Gary But you included as red herrings “examples” of things that you know full well would be illegal, like terminating people based upon race, or denying refunds based upon race.

    You could have had a very credible, even-keeled story by explaining your concern about airline virtue signaling without including the snark that turns people off.

    A lot of people read your stuff, and 99.9+% of the time I am one of the people who enjoys your work, but every once in a long while, you hit a clanger when you try to dive into social/political issues. This was one of them.

  10. Well, with the looming “pilot shortage” that is once again predicted to hit the airlines,
    we’ll see how far this “diversity crap” really goes.

    United may have to take what it can get and forget about “diversity”….

  11. Agree 100% with Greg…diversity isn’t a joke. You could certainly present a nuanced perspective on why you find these actions to be no more than virtue signaling, in fact, that’s what I would expect a “thought leader” to do.

    I generally enjoy your pieces, but I think you would increase your credibility Gary by admitting the way you approached this one was a clanger.

  12. Pretty sure at this point all planes could be flown with AI. Definitely by 2030. We landed a damn rocket on mars all by remote control.

  13. I’m also troubled by UA’s diversity announcement. Would you want to be a patient at a hospital that insisted that 50% of their new employees would be women or people of color — even if the applicant pool did not have these percentages of qualified candidates? Or how about attend a pro basketball league that committed to 50% of their new players being persons without color? Like most passengers, I just want United to hire the best pilots they can, and I don’t care what their gender or skin color are. If United wants to support initiatives to encourage underrepresented groups to go into flying, that’s great. But just higher the best candidates.

  14. If you want to see diversity in the pilot community, just take a look at Amtrak!

    Inefficient, late, uncoordinated, and never a car attendant around when you need one……
    (they are all in the diner eating up the profits, or sacked out somewhere enroute), just not
    doing the work for which they were hired to do.

  15. In response to @chopsticks, if I was a patient at a hospital where only 13% of the doctors were non-white and 7% of women, I would actually be concerned I wasn’t getting the best care. Because unless I thought being a woman or being non-white inherently made a person a worse doctor, the split of gender/race of the doctors should approximately equal the split of the general population. With only 7% being female, I would assume I’m not getting the best talent. Minorities are not under-represented in aviation because they are less talented, but because there are fewer pathways for them to enter the profession. I think the point of what United is doing is to increase the pathways.

  16. Lots of folks insist on employers hiring ‘the best’.
    Newsflash, an individual employee’s performance depends on the environment the employer provides. Employees perform best when the employer fosters a diverse environment. This is research and evidence backed.

  17. Gary – I, for one, appreciated your objectivity & sense of irony. Any corporate policy that might affect my comfort & safety is fair game for discussion.

  18. Terry – except Gary doesn’t claim this will effect your comfort and safety, because he knows it won’t. In fact, his claim his the exact opposite, that United is laying out goals that are non-tangible, or so far out that they won’t even happen and are more PR then anything else.

    If you have a reason why you think this will affect your comfort and safety (after you read what the program is) I’d be interested to hear it.

  19. Well, the good news is that they won’t be requiring a photo ID of any kind to work at United or be a passenger in the future to avoid being racist. In addition, they will stop handing out granola bars and bottled water during delays.

  20. @Jim Baround
    that’s an obvious fallacy.
    You are assuming that as many competent women as men are applying for this kind of jobs. This is highly unlikely.
    Statistically, women do not tend to technical demanding or stressful jobs. They tend to apply for jobs in HR, marketing, and generally human-related jobs. This is even more true for countries with a high emancipation level like the nordic European countries. So this seems to have biological reasons and not social reasons.

    So as already mentioned before by others, it’s unlikely that 20 women out of 20 will have the same skill level as the best 20 men out of 100 men.

  21. It was only a matter of time before United jumped in and tried to “one up” by joining the morainic bandwagon with the other two and pander to the BLM/Social justice sham being sucked up by a gullible and intimated public. Next up will be some sort of media spectacular announcing UA/AADL will start start painting their planes “international” black and be the first to replace the American flag with the BLM symbol. Of course if these idiots prevail there won’t be any fuel to fly airplanes. Or, better yet, they will be automated and we won’t need any crews at all.

  22. Jim Baround says:
    Why didn’t United just say they would help and put their money and energy in securing the pathways for minorities into the careers of Aviation. We all would support that and do. NOOOOOO United have to tell us what they plan to do in their company’s hiring to suck up to the latest liberal trends in social media. As a million miler I for one only want the best of the best flying the planes I fly on. I don’t care who they are and where they came from but they had better be the top of their class and most experienced, the best trained to qualify for United Airlines. What a heap of dung everything else is.

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