United is moving its flight network operations centre outside Chicago in case of any protests


United sent an urgent message to flight attendants on Friday about the changes.

“There is a possibility of renewed protest activity,” the alert from inflight administration says. “We are taking precautionary measures to ensure your safety and suitable rest are met.”

The Chicago-based airline said it will move crews out of downtown hotels to airport hotels in “specific cities due to potential disruptions that could impact layovers at these locations.”

Affected cities include Seattle, Washington, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Portland, Ore.

The switch began Monday and is expected to last a week, the airline told employees.

Airlines routinely switch up crew hotels to make sure flight attendants and pilots don’t get stuck, but it’s usually because of issues like weather, public transportation or traffic snarls, or large downtown events, not the threat of political unrest over a U.S. election.

United and other carriers did make crew hotel moves over the summer and fall when protests mounted due to a national racial reckoning following the death of George Floyd.

United said it also plans to move its flight network operations centre to a backup facility outside downtown Chicago to ensure its operations stay on track in the wake of any protests. The airline made a similar move this summer.