“Woke” United Airlines

In November United Airlines supported California Proposition 16, which would have allowed considering race in decisions on public employment, educational admittance, and government contracting. (The ballot measure failed.) At the time United said,

United is deeply committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within our company as well as endorsing political action that supports furthering those efforts in citizens’ everyday lives.

…As an organization made of a diverse workforce, we are proud to support legislation that furthers the success of underrepresented communities.

When United furloughed 16,000 employees they didn’t use race as a factor. However this fall they did commit to choosing board members based on race.

Now they’re reminding employees about United Airlines speech codes, which threaten termination for criticizing anyone on social media on the basis of a protected category.

We work to promote a safe and inclusive environment. It’s valuable to bring together people from different backgrounds who express different views, but we need to pay attention to our words and how they may impact our diverse population of employees and customers.

It’s not okay to say (or post) things that are offensive or racially charged. This applies when using social media, when posting comments on Flying Together, and when simply having conversations. And where social media is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether your post is public or within a closed group – nothing on the internet is truly private or anonymous.

Use common sense and good judgment, and if you have any doubt about whether or not what you’re saying or posting may be offensive, you probably want to avoid it.

…It’s never okay to criticize others on the basis of race, gender, age or any other protected category. This includes conduct within the workplace, as well as outside of the workplace and on social media. We take this very seriously. Employees who violate this policy may be subject to discipline up to and including termination.

At United Airlines, if you aren’t sure whether someone might think your speech is offensive then you aren’t supposed to say it. For the record Luc Bondar, as a MileagePlus member I find talk of devaluation offensive. I’m not usually in favor of chilling speech, but if it avoided mileage devaluations I’d change my mind.

United Airlines has transformed itself into the woke hub-and-spoke carrier. If United’s moves to support affirmative action and crack down on offensive speech appeal to you, consider that maybe corporations aren’t your enemy after all.

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. […] “Woke” United Airlines emphasizes the number of union jobs supported by their plans throughout. This also supports an industry strategy of aligning itself with the Biden administration, in hopes of more sweet, sweet taxpayer cash. They’re even promoting that they “”generate[..] about $4 billion of direct (ticket excise, fuel, and property) and payroll taxes” even though of course they are not cash corporate income tax payer. […]


  1. Yet another reason to avoid this godforsaken airline.

    This idiot policy could be twisted and misused in innumerable ways, and the punishment decisions will be made/enforced by halfwits.

  2. Why is the entire liberal agenda to promote racism?

    It’s the weirdest way to fight racism, ever.

  3. Virtue signaling gone sideways. I’m so tired of big corporations that follow the wind on issues at the expense of employees and customers instead of deciding on their moral standards and sticking with them.

  4. It is a disgrace that United uses race as one of the criteria when selecting board members. It is just another form of racism and sends the message that minorities who get selected were not the best people for the job but merely got the position because of their race. I guess United feels that minorities are never going to be the most qualified so they have to lower the bar for them to get the position.

  5. GARY?!??!…..I never thought I’d see something getting too woke for you! We’re well on our way to creating two America’s. Those who play along with whatever bizarre foolishness the radical left demands we genuflect to…..and those who will be silenced/cancelled/fired/ thrust into poverty and those who will be ultimately murdered through their own actions or someone else’s. This is only the beginning my friend.

  6. Sadly….. because I fly predominantly out of Newark, I can’t avoid United for many flights.

    I’d pay extra to do so.

  7. Kudos to you Gary!!!

    Just wait when free speech and “reverse” discrimination cases hit the Supreme Court (and some lower courts that Trump has already switched).

    They will strike down these speech codes and hand hefty sums to the plaintiffs — so long as Manchin does not vote to gut the filibuster, that is!

  8. Im fine with this because they made there miles not expire. The employees have other airlines they can work at if they dont like the new rhetoric. Infact it would be nice on planes if the passengers could not talk either. Im offended by any speech. They can all learn American sign language to communicate instead. I would greatly prefer no audible announcements or the nonsense the pilots say too. Fire them all if they speak.

  9. I was going to say something… but as a time to time user of buddy passes on United I thought twice of it.

    On an unrelated topic, San Francisco based aren’t they? With Apple($150m) and Google and Facebook ($34m) as their biggest customers?

  10. For the left, it’s always all about race, all the time.
    What a racist bunch they are. Just can’t leave it alone.

  11. @ CHRIS
    It’s not about being too woke.
    It’s about United. When has Gary been for anything United?

  12. Gary finally realizing his comments are full of Republicans foaming at the mouth and embracing it. Interesting choice.

  13. United should be ashamed of themselves, but what can regular people do? Boycotts are not the answer because AA, DL have the same mentality, not gonna work if you need to fly. Same with these big tech companies, can’t do without them.
    This is just another example of the horrible path we are going down. Cancel culture is a poison, the woke mob will stop at nothing until they have full control. It’s easy to hate people like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein but it never ends with them. I truly hope Biden can act as a bulwark against the woke mob that is seemingly taking control of the Democratic party.

  14. I’d like to see Live and Let’s Fly United defender come out and say something “positive” about this change.

  15. Their behavior is disgusting, especially their support for bringing racism back into government in California.

    Best thing we can do is support similar referenda/statutes in other states to create color-blind governments nation-wide.

  16. @Sam,
    What can you do? There is a lot we can do as individuals. I went through my retirement portfolio which is professionally managed and divested Google, Apple and FB stock from my portfolio as well as every ETF and MF that held these stocks at 5% or more of their holdings. Fortunately I am not on SM, but if I was I would also shut down my FB, Twitter, etc accounts. I’m sure this will affect my bottom line somewhat but honestly I am willing to earn less and protect freedom expression than make money off of companies that are actively endorsing censorship in our country. Maybe tilting at windmills, but doing my part. Others need to think what is more important, a few more $$ or shutting down censorship.

  17. Here we go again. Yet another airline thinks they are some sort of “social justice” dictator and policeman. Billions in taxpayer money to keep these horrible operations going. Time to roll all them into one national airline to join the railroads, post office etc. as nothing but governmental trolls. I wonder how the unions who are so in love with the mob getting ready to take over our lives will like long time members getting laid off before minority groups with far less seniority.

  18. My state of California and a handful of other states has a law making it illegal for employers to take adverse action against employees for “lawful off duty conduct.” So if a UA employee posted something online that ran foul of UA’s speech code and did so off the clock and off of UA’s property, (e.g. the employee posted using his computer at his residence on one of his days off) that would be protected activity. Any employee who gets disciplined or terminated for such ought to consult a competent attorney and file a lawsuit demanding back pay, damages and reinstatement.

  19. I see a lot of concern here for people who want to exercise their “right” to offend others, but no concern at all for people who want to live in peace without being insulted — or much worse — for what they look like, or where they are from, or whom they love. Anyone who thinks that the problem in this country is that there isn’t enough bigotry really ought to pay more attention.

  20. Sure Mr. Magellan, perhaps next time you can choose Pizzaro or Cortez or another fake name to spew your ignorant hatred. Anyone who needs to post their alleged thoughts using fake names, especially someone like Magellan, needs to pay more attention to history, but thanks for playing lol…

  21. Poor Panda, probably doesn’t even know who “Ferdinand Magellan” is. And “putting into words that you could never do” doesn’t sound particularly difficult. Enjoy your victimhood…

  22. I don’t need big corporations, big government or social media to tell me what is morally acceptable. These institutions missed that departure years ago.
    Any doubt, recommended reading . . . start with John 1:1. No mention of any of the above.

  23. Will there ever come a day when we are ALL are protected classes? Until then, just those chosen by Big Brother.

  24. Those of you who haven’t read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” might do so. It’s a short story about equality and is available on-line.

  25. Imagine the vanity at corporate, those suits and skirts who feel the need to tell the world what they think about current events. We don’t give an eff what you think. Just shut up and run the airline. Stay out of others business.

  26. Wow, there’s a lot of butthurt people on here! These policies have nothing to do with your experience flying on their planes.

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