United CEO Oscar Munoz and Olympian Gus Kenworthy Talk Travel, 1K Elite Status
The 2018 Winter Olympics kicks off this Friday, with opening ceremony scheduled for 6:00am Eastern Time in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But the latest batch of US Olympians just arrived in Seoul, following a high-profile sendoff at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Tuesday morning.
I was on hand to capture the excitement, including an interview with United CEO Oscar Munoz and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics and will compete in Pyeongchang this month.
As with other Olympians, Gus flies United, the official airline of Team USA — not only to and from the Games, but to training events, competitions and promotional gigs as well. The US Olympic Committee typically books athletes in economy, but Gus has earned Premier 1K status, which has landed him upgrades on several flights, as he discussed in an exclusive TPG interview with Oscar Munoz ahead of yesterday's flight.
Gus scored a seat in business class on yesterday's 787-9 Dreamliner flight to Seoul (ICN), too, as evidenced by his Instagram Story:
I've flown this version of United's business seat several times, including on the 787-9 — it's not the airline's latest "Polaris" seat, but it certainly beats a 12-hour flight in coach!
Gus's partnership with United goes beyond travel, however — the athlete landed a starring role in the airline's Olympics commercial, so he'll be making several television appearances between Pyeongchang events, too.
While Gus was clearly the star of the show at SFO, there were a handful of other Team USA athletes making their way to Seoul on Tuesday, too.
Oscar could be seen scanning their boarding passes as they made their way on to the Dreamliner.
With events officially kicking off today, many athletes are already on the ground in Pyeongchang. As a freestyle skier, Gus competes in slopestyle and halfpipe events, which don't appear to start until next Sunday, February 18 — so he should have plenty of time to adjust to the timezone and kick his jet lag before the real fun begins.
Good luck to Gus and the rest of Team USA!