Julie Reid is the Director for Australia and New Zealand for United Airlines based in Sydney. She is responsible for all commercial activities. Her career in travel spans 25 years across hotels, travel management and airline. Julie has worked and lived in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia which she now calls home.
When did you start out in the travel industry?
I started my travel career working in event management and sales in the hotel industry in the UK then moved to Hong Kong and Australia. I moved into the airline business six years ago joining Cathay Pacific and then United in 2015.
What is it you love about working in the airline industry?
The travel, the people and the opportunities we get to experience. We work hard, deliver results, but we also get to have fun and work with amazing people across the industry. The airline business is so diverse and each day is different.
United has just started direct flights between Sydney and Houston, Texas on the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. What are some of the highlights of this new service?
We are so excited to be operating a fourth daily flight from Australia to the US. Houston is a great destination in its own right, but this flight also opens up new one-stop destinations from Sydney. United’s early arrival into Houston allows connections to more than 70 cities in the US, Canada and Latin America. Houston also allows new one-stop destinations from Sydney that previously were only achieved in two stops. The new route also opens up Caribbean and Central American destinations such as Havana, Grand Cayman and the whole of Mexico.
The Polaris Business Class will be offered on this flight. What are some of the key attributes of this?
Polaris is a reinvention of United’s premium cabin travel experience, which launched in December 2016. Features include sleep-focussed amenities such as Saks Fifth Avenue luxury bedding, Cowshed amenity kits, mattress pads, gel pillows, pyjamas and slippers. We also introduced reimagined dining on board. As well as an enticing lunch or dinner and breakfast service, we also offer mid-flight comfort snacks such as tomato soup and cheese toastie (my favourite!).The Houston Polaris lounge is currently being built and will offer showers, rest spaces and pre-flight dining options.
You have been to Houston over 30 times. What do you love about the city?
The people! Everyone is very friendly. I am a little biased as my brother lives there. The quality of food and service is also exceptional. It’s a city made up of different neighbourhoods to explore. The Galleria area is known for shopping and eating. Downtown is the business area with tunnels connecting the office buildings to keep you cool. It’s a little village down there, with restaurants and shops. The Historic Heights area is also becoming a very cool foodie suburb with some upmarket food trucks and there are lovely smaller shopping and dining experiences at Rice Village and City Center. It’s definitely a driving city, a great opportunity to hire an American classic car.
What are your top three recommendations for Australian visitors to do in Houston?
The Space Center is a must. It’s home to NASA Mission Control, International Space Station Mission Control and the NASA Johnson Space Center. I’d also recommend the Museum district, and a sports game to go to. The Astros won the World Series Baseball 2017 and we have the Texans in NFL and the Rockets in basketball.
What are your favourite restaurants to take guests to in Houston?
Houston is a great foodie city. If I had to choose, I’d take people to Taste of Texas or State of Grace for good steak; Uchi for Japanese; Underbelly, a unique pork butcher restaurant with a great wine list; Houstons a high-quality chain serving excellent food; and Lupe Tortilla or Hugo’s are great chains for Mexican.
Which places in the world would you love to visit that you haven’t been to before?
Vancouver to see the orcas, Havana, Moscow and an Arctic cruise.
What tips do you have for people starting out in the airline/travel industry?
Appreciate the experience. I think we forget how lucky we are to get the opportunities we do. Find a mentor, as everyone needs someone to be able to say anything too and ask silly questions. Work hard as a team player, engage your colleagues, and enjoy what you do. •