DENVER (KDVR) — The customer service experience at Denver International Airport just reached a whole new level thanks to a United Airlines partnership with the Special Olympics.
Four athletes are the newest additions at United’s Denver hub. Cody Field, Hanna Joy Atkinson, David Riley and Chris McElroy help tag bags and assist customers through the check-in process. They’re known as Special Olympics Service Ambassadors and are United Airlines employees.
“He was really energetic, outgoing, willing to help,” a customer said after her interaction with Field. “[His joy] is contagious.”
Jonathan Gooda, who leads customer service, said the program launched in Chicago three years ago and expanded to Denver in October of last year.
“It makes a huge difference to our team,” Gooda said. “You can just see the joy and happiness on people’s faces.”
And it’s not just the customers feeling the impact. United employees also benefit from the positivity their new colleagues provide. The United Airlines partnership with Special Olympics provides inclusive employment opportunities while building on Special Olympics awareness efforts.
“Special Olympics has always given us opportunities,” Field said.
Field enjoys snowboarding and recently finished competing at the X Games in Aspen. Basketball, flag football, track and field and softball keep Riley busy. Atkinson spends her time ski racing and bike racing. McElroy participates in basketball, swimming, golf and bowling.
While United provides the opportunity, the athletes are the ones enriching the culture at the airport— a benefit for everyone involved.
Special Olympics Service Ambassadors are paid employees of United Airlines. They are currently working with United Airlines teams in Chicago, Houston and Denver. United said it hopes to continue growing the program and hopes to also see other companies focus on inclusive hiring.