More than 20 large banners that encouraged United Airlines customers to “Fly the Friendly Skies” at Chicago O'Hare are finding new life. The company worked with the Columbia College Chicago Department of Fashion Studies and the Re:new Project – a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for refugee women – to transform the large fabric signs into 100 eco-friendly carry-on bags.

As of October 16, 2015, customers can purchase these upcycled backpacks and duffel bags by visiting the United Shop at unitedshop.com. The proceeds will benefit Re:new and the Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project in Northern Peru.

“United is committed to operating sustainably and responsibly, and that means finding creative ways to further reduce our impact on the environment,” said the airline's Managing Director of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Angela Foster-Rice. “As part of our Eco-Skies commitment, we are excited to give these banners a second life, and know our customers will enjoy taking home a piece of the friendly skies.”

The Challenge

United challenged the students at Columbia College to create a carry-on bag from the banner material that could:

  1. Fit under an airplane seat (9″x10″x17″)
  2. Be economical to make, yet attractive
  3. Be durable and wearable

After United selected the winning designs, Re:new stepped in to produce the one-of-a-kind, hand-sewn bags featuring distinct skyline images from the airline's hub cities. For more on the design process and to hear from the students behind these unique travel bags, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDg3vF32BYU

About United

United Airlines and United Express operate an average of nearly 5,000 flights a day to 373 airports across six continents. In 2014, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 138 million customers. United is proud to have the world's most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco andWashington, D.C. United operates nearly 700 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 34 new Boeing aircraft, including the 787-9 and the 737-900ER. United is also welcoming 49 new Embraer E175 aircraft to United Express. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 193 countries via 27 member airlines. More than 84,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.

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