United Airlines Operates Its First Flight With Cargo In The Cabin

United Airlines has been ramping up its cargo services while the global health crisis continues to rock the aviation industry. The carrier has recently launched a cargo-in-cabin flight operation from London Heathrow (LHR) to its hub in Chicago (ORD). The flight carried over 4,200 pounds of mail in the cabin.

United 787 Dreamliner
United is still putting some of its Boeing widebody aircraft to good use despite the quiet period. Photo: United Airlines

Official approval

According to a press release sent to Simple Flying, United recently received the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry cargo in approved storage areas in the passenger cabin. Initially, these shipments are being loaded on Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft operating the firm’s cargo-only flights.

Liz Woolmington, United Cargo’s senior regional manager of Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa, spoke of her company’s desire to help out with essential deliveries during this period. By utilizing the operator’s resources, vital supplies can be efficiently shipped.

“At United, we are doing everything we can to keep supply chains moving and meet the demand for critical shipments around the globe,” Woolmington said.

“By loading our existing cabin storage areas with cargo and mail, we can move even more critical medical equipment and other vital shipments the world needs to manage through the pandemic.”

United Cargo
United had already been putting goods in the aircraft holding. Photo: United Airlines

Crucial missions

Altogether, the airline’s cargo-only network currently offers services between six of its hubs in the United States and 18 airports worldwide. It has been providing these flights since March 19th, 2020. So far, it has completed over 1,300 of these trips, moving more than 44 million pounds of cargo.

Last month, United flew a 787 Dreamliner containing 1,000 ventilators, 70,000 goggles, and 300,000 masks from China to the US. These products are now in use by medical personnel across California and New York.

Additionally, the company is helping to deliver cargo to key military destinations such as Guam and Frankfurt. These services are ensuring military families receive supplies and mail during these tough times.

United Airlines Interior
More mail will be moving across the skies by utilizing the space throughout passenger cabins. Photo: United Airlines

Greater opportunity

More capacity is now available on United’s shipping operations. Subsequently, more vital products can be transported. Most of the company’s passenger services remain inactive amid all the travel restrictions. However, it is still keeping busy with its progress in cargo markets.

Ultimately, as passenger activity slowly returns throughout the year, it will be interesting to see if the carrier continues to grow in its cargo department. With the airline burning through over $40 million a day, these operations are becoming increasingly important.

Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on the future of its cargo services. A spokesperson shared that the airline will continue to review its cargo-only flight network and adjust as required in accordance with demand.

What are your thoughts on United’s shipping operations? How do you feel about how the airline has adapted during the downturn in passenger activity? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.