Pride in December: An exclusive look at United’s first-ever all-LGBTQ+ flight
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There’s a saying that goes, it’s about the people, not the place.
The love — and joy — we felt was real, as my colleague Chris Dong and I were onboard United Airlines’ inaugural Pride flight, fully staffed by LGBTQ+-identifying employees, from the pilots and gate attendants to ground operations crew.
It was an orchestrated effort that came together beautifully, just three days after World AIDS Day.
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It was a bright Saturday morning at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), where festivities awaited customers at Gate C121. There was a terrific spread of brunch offerings — even better than what you’d find at a lounge — and plenty of coffee and even mimosas for the ultimate pre-departure celebration.
The event was put on by United’s LGBTQ+ business resource group, Equal, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first recorded case of AIDS and raise awareness for World AIDS Day and those who still live with the disease.
As you’re walking through United’s Terminal C, you’ll find a piece of the AIDS Quilt — and I highly recommend pausing to read some of these heartfelt stories.
At the gate, we heard from Newark deputy mayor Rahaman Muhammad and United’s line stations business senior manager and Equal president Kevin Keado, rounded out by an epic performance by Tony-nominated actress Jenn Colella from the Broadway show “Come From Away.”
The flight was short and sweet, and in under two hours, we arrived in Chicago. We proudly wore our red ribbons to commemorate those affected by and lost to the AIDS crisis.
But perhaps the best part of it all was the rainbow water cannon salute put on by O’Hare’s fire department as we pulled up to the gate.
As we were deplaning, employees from O’Hare were cheering us on the other side.
So, it really was about the people and not the place (or the airline) — and celebrating Pride beyond the month of June. We’re looking forward to this flight becoming an annual tradition, and we can only hope that there will be a drag show onboard next time.
Featured photo courtesy of United.
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