This week pretty much everyone is celebrating
and commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 launch and
the first manned mission to land on the Moon.
And today, July 17 -the same day Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin made their first TV transmission from Earth to space – United Airlines is hosting a special celebration flight from Newark Liberty International (EWR) airport to Houston’s Georg Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
already underway to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon
landing and the first steps taken by humans on the moon.
July 20 is the official anniversary day, but United Airlines and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport are among the groups that have a planned more than a month’s worth of activities to mark the lunar milestone.
Win a seat on a
special United Airlines celebration flight
Top among the events
is a special flight from Newark to Houston on July 17, the anniversary of the day astronauts Neil
Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin made their first TV
transmission from Earth to space.
On that day, United Flight 355 from Newark Liberty International Airport to Houston will be a celebratory flight with space-themed entertainment, inflight gifts and special guests who have been to space.
Want to go along? United is hosting a social media contest on Twitter with a prize that includes seats on board the Apollo 11 celebration flight as well as a behind the scenes tour of NASA facilities in Houston. Deadline to enter is June 22, 2019 at 10:29 a.m. CT.
Beginning July 1, members of United’s Mileage Plus mileage program can bid miles on space-themed experiences such as VIP access to Space Center Houston’s Apollo 11 50thAnniversary Celebration featuring the band Walk the Moon. More information on that here.
No contest entry needed
for these Apollo 11 activities:
There’s more: Starting
July 1, seatback and personal device entertainment on United flights will
include a channel with dedicated space-related program from NASA, including
action cam footage of astronaut spacewalks.
In United’s Terminal C and E at George Bush
Intercontinental Airport (IAH), there are lots of activities planned as well:
In Terminal C, gate lounges will display digital photographs from the Apollo 11 mission on the monitors.
From July 9-11 Space Center Houston will provide Apollo 11-themed pop-up science labs in the terminals. In the United Clubs, customers will have a chance to meet and take photos with retired Astronaut Ken Cameron.
During July, travelers
will also have a chance to eat like an astronaut at In United Airlines’ at two restaurants at
IAH, one in Terminal C and one in Terminal E.
What did the astronauts eat?
Between liftoff and touchdown
back on earth, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins were running
experiments, taking pictures, gathering samples and making history.
The press kit lists the day-by-day,
meal-by-meal menu for each crewman and explains how some of the meals were
“After water has been injected into a food bag, it is kneaded for about three minutes. The bag neck is then cut off and the food squeezed into the crewman ‘s mouth,” the release explains.
Freeze-dried ice-cream isn’t
on the list, but powdered fruit-drinks (not Tang; NASA doesn’t use brand
names), along with bacon cubes, shrimp cocktail, beef stew, frankfurters, fruit
cocktail, tuna salad and many other familiar foods are.
“Familiar foods, or even just fresh
foods, are often hugely satisfying in space for the memories they trigger and
warm feelings they generate,” said Jennifer Levasseur,
Museum Curator, Department of Space
History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which has 13 packets
of food the Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t eat.
Like modern day travelers, food is one of the few
things astronauts can control during a journey far from home. “Food must have
had a very important role on Apollo 11 because they were doing things that had
never been done before,” said Vickie Kloeris, NASA Food Scientist Emeritus.
Dine like an astronaut
Many of the foods found
on those original Apollo 11 menus are featured during July on a special menu at
OTG’s Ember Tavern and Tanglewood Grille in United Airlines’ Terminal C and E
To ensure authenticity, OTG’s culinary team visited NASA’s Space Food
Systems Laboratory in Houston to learn about and taste food prepared by NASA’s
“We wanted to understand what food meant to astronauts having that
experience and what it means now,” said Dan O’Donnell, OTG’s Head of Culinary, “We
wanted to know the science and philosophy behind space food; where they were
then and where it is now.”
The biggest take-away, said O’Donnell was that
the astronauts could choose a lot of the foods they wanted to eat. “It wasn’t
just about sustenance. Much of it was food that reminded the astronauts of home;
like beef and potatoes, tuna salad and sugar cookies. Our menu is a play on
Travelers who order from
the Apollo 11-inspired IAH menu won’t be served meals that need to be
reconstituted and squeezed into their mouths from bags. Nor will they find 1969
Instead they’ll find modern-day
versions of many menu items from the Apollo 11 mission.
“For instance, our take
on the Tuna Salad uses seared ahi instead of regular tuna, but we prepared it
in the same way with walnuts, grapes, celery, apple and some fresh yogurt,”
said O’Donnell, “The Beef & Potatoes is made with grilled ribeye, scalloped
potatoes and parsley pesto.
Although there was no alcohol on Apollo 11, there’s are cocktails on the IAH Apollo 11 anniversary menu.
“The original menus said, ‘orange drink,’ ‘grapefruit drink’ or ‘citrus drink.’ They were very flavor focused and on the sweeter side, because people taste things differently in space,” said Allison Kafalas, OTG Beverage Director, “I took those flavors and translated them to cocktails that are a bit more relevant and modern for today’s eater, including a peach bellini, a martini using an orange vodka from Texas and a pineapple margarita.”
Airlines, Sony and Marvel worked together to weave the Federal Aviation Administration’s
required safety instructions into a fast-paced, short (4:44) film starring
Spider-Man, a trio of villains, and some of Spider-Man’s friends.
“We’ve kept the worlds of Spider-Man and United safety
separate, but together,” said Daniel Cuellar, Director of Global Advertising
for United, “Crew members, as always, are doing the demos and giving
instructions, but there’s an underlying fun Spider-Man aspect to it.”
And some cool
“That’s the benefit of partnering with Sony,” said United’s Vice President of Marketing,
Mark Krolick. “We were able to make this safety video with movie
theater-style production and effects. It’s not something we usually have the
opportunity to do and I think our customers will appreciate the higher production
And, United hopes, pay attention in a world where airlines
try to out-do each other with engaging safety videos.
plenty of evidence that learning is more effective when there is play and fun
involved, and these videos follow a trend of gamification and entertainment of
information,” said Sabrina Habib, a professor of Visual Communications at the
University of South Carolina.
Spoiler alert: here’s the plot of
United’s new Spider-Man-themed safety video
new safety video, villains cause trouble at the corner store owned by Mr.
Delmar (played by Hemky Madera). Spider-Man happens to be nearby and springs
into action. He chases the goons into a movie theater, to a park fountain, and down
a dark alley; captures them all; and leaves them neatly wrapped up in a web
with a handwritten note for the authorities that says “All Yours! Gotta Fly.
If you pay attention,
you’ll notice a framed photo of the late comic book writer and Marvel super
hero creator Stan Lee in the store. That’s Spider-Man movie character Eugene
“Flash” Thompson (played by Toni Revolori) helping to demonstrate safety
instructions about putting electronic devices into airplane mode.
And, while you
may not know who they are, some of the extras in the video are people who bid
their MileagePlus miles for a chance to be part of the project.
alter ego, Peter Parker, has a best friend, Ned (played by Jacob Batalon) who is
in-line outside a movie theater when Spider-Man streaks by chasing a goon into
the theater. They race by a man walking down the sidewalk, played by none other
than United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz.
“Wow, that must be
some good movie,” says man-on-the street Munoz
“Yeah, I hear the
best friend’s hilarious,” replies Ned.
During filming of the street scene outside the classic
Palace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles this past January, Munoz was having fun
bantering with the production crew and was patient and good-natured about the
Off the set, there was an upcoming earnings report
and the impact the partial government shutdown was having on the airline
industry to think about, but Munoz felt taking time to do this safety video
cameo was important.
fun for him to do, “It brings an awareness that while United is incredibly serious
about issues of safety and operational reliability,” said Munoz, “Were are
the also the ‘The Friendly Skies’ and we want to be friendly and fun. I think
this gives us that narrative.”
How did United
Airlines rope Spider-Man into a safety video appearance?
United is not only an official airline sponsor for the new
Spider-Man movie; one of its airplanes has a cameo in the film.
In “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Peter Parker and his high
school classmates go on a class trip to Europe, stopping in London, Venice, Prague
and a few other places. United flew a 777-200, retrofitted with the Polaris business
cabin, to London for a week of shooting.
“There are lots of different scenes of the kids going over
and coming back.” said United’s global advertising director Daniel Cuellar,
“Peter Parker has one very rich friend who’s flying in Polaris while everyone
else is flying in economy. So there’s lots of great footage of the aircraft.
And when the kids come home from Europe, they filmed in Newark Airport as
Far From Home” tie-in goes beyond the safety video and the aircraft cameo in
June, travelers in United’s Polaris business class will get a Spider-Man-themed
amenity kit, in red or blue, which includes a Spidey-branded eye mask and
socks, alongside tissues and other branded personal care items.
The airline is
also inviting MileagePlus members to bid award miles
for a chance to attend the “Spider-Man: Far from Home” premiere in Los Angeles
on June 26 or to use award miles to attend pre-release screenings in seven of
the airline’s hub cities.