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How United Cargo is Connecting Lifesaving Pharma to Patients Across the Globe

Airfreight is proven to be the quickest way of transporting goods long distances – with speed and efficiency being the keys to success. With over one billion pounds of cargo shipped in 2021, the sheer volume of products and shipments transported throughout the United Airlines global network is undeniably impactful. But in an industry that connects products to people worldwide every day, it’s easy to overlook the impact of a single shipment.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect global supply chains, we see a rapidly growing medical market that’s driving increased demand for health care shipments all over the globe. United Cargo was among the first carriers to utilize its global network capabilities and personnel to move lifesaving shipments, such as medical kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals and medical equipment between United’s U.S. hubs and key international destinations.

Transporting pharmaceuticals and other life science shipments from labs to patients is a difficult task. Fragile medical shipments require the highest level of care and precision throughout their journeys, which can sometimes include complicated routes from large manufacturing locations to smaller regional cities – this is where United Cargo comes in.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, United Cargo supported a variety of customers within the healthcare industry for over 10 years. Two key services – LifeGuard and TempControl – protect the integrity of vital shipments such as precision medicine, pharmaceuticals, biologics and vaccines. Most recently, United introduced an extension of its LifeGuard offering, LifeGuard XL, to accommodate vital pharma shipments above 100 pounds. that require special handling. By utilizing processes like temperature monitoring, thermodynamic management, and priority boarding and handling, United Cargo provides customers with the peace of mind that their shipments are protected throughout their journey.

Additionally, United Cargo has made investments to ensure that we provide the most reliable air cargo options for cold chain shipping. Since the beginning of the pandemic, United was the first North American carrier to introduce several new temperature-controlled shipping containers to its portfolio, including the Envirotainer Releye RLP and the DoKaSch Opticooler RAP. We continue to partner with state-of-the-art container providers to ensure we have options that meet our customers’ ever-changing needs.

Together with our partners around the globe, we’re changing how pharma shipments are transported worldwide, and we’re doing it in a way that’s commercially feasible. Just in the last quarter of 2021, United Cargo has helped transport over 23 million pounds of critical medical-related cargo and over 166 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. While the pandemic continues to affect communities all over the world, it’s more important than ever to ensure that people all over the globe have equitable access to vaccines.

The entire United team continues to prioritize moving critical shipments as part of our commitment to supporting the global supply chain. To learn more about pharmaceutical transportation solutions at United, visit