United Airlines Executive Missing For Over A Week

Filed Under: United

Update: See here for the latest on this case.

ABC 7 Chicago reports that search is underway for a United Airlines executive, who has been missing for about a week.

Jake Cefolia is United Airlines’ Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, and leads a 725-person sales team at the Chicago-based airline. He started at United back in 2007, and prior to that worked at British Airways and Northwest Airlines.

Unfortunately Cefolia was last seen on Thursday, August 6, and was reported missing on Saturday, August 8.

Over 100 volunteers and K-9 units are searching for Cefolia at the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, not far from his home in Elmhurst. The 49-year-old’s car was found there.

Chief David Peterson of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County said the following:

“He commonly ran, we have 9 or 10-mile loop here at the forest preserve, so he’s an athletic 49-year-old gentleman. We don’t know for sure he’s still at the forest preserve, but at this point there’s been no contact with family or friends.”

United Airlines issued the following statement regarding this situation:

“Our friend and colleague, Jake Cefolia, SVP of Worldwide Sales, was last seen Thursday evening, August 6th. We’re concerned about his well-being and have been in touch with Jake’s family over the last couple of days to offer them our support. At the request of the family, we won’t be releasing any additional details at this time.

We have also been in touch with law enforcement and expressed our desire to do everything we can to help them as they lead the effort to find Jake. If you have any information that could be helpful in locating Jake, please contact the Elmhurst Police Department at (630) 530-3050.”

My thoughts are with Cefolia and his family for the best outcome here. What a terrible situation…

  1. Lucky, I appreciate your respectful tone in this article, but I wonder if it needed to be published at all. I would imagine one of your sources sent you the UA internal statement, which mentioned that Mr. Cefolia’s family requested privacy. I don’t see how any public/your audiences’ interest is served by having a family’s personal hardship presented to thousands of readers. I love your blog and have read for years. and I know you mean well, but unless you have the family’s blessing I would ponder if this is something that really needs to be available for public consumption.

  2. @ Alan — What part of “If you have any information that could be helpful in locating Jake, please contact the Elmhurst Police Department at (630) 530-3050” asks for privacy?

  3. Why has he be missing for a week and there’s almost nothing in the press? I get that the family wants privacy but I’d think they’d prefer to get him back. Something doesn’t sit right about this.

  4. @ Alan — I’m going off of the ABC 7 Chicago report, and not any internal memo. Maybe I’m viewing this wrong, but one would think that if someone is missing, *more* exposure of the situation would maximize the odds of him being found, no? That’s the whole point of contact information for anyone with tips.

    I’m not here to speculate on the situation or anything else, because I think that wouldn’t be respectful to the family. But I think simply trying to amplify what is already out there shouldn’t be a negative. Totally respect if you feel otherwise, though, and if it came across as insensitive, my apologies.

  5. Hopefully he is found safe.

    Nothing worse than someone missing and never finding them.

    And yeah, they are trying to find the guy, why wouldn’t they want the basic information out?

  6. Goodness he was leading those public video calls about United’s COVID response for corporate customers (but were open to anyone to join). He had to let a lot of people go and wrote how hard that was. But on the calls was responsive and active – hope he is well – obviously we don’t have the full story nor are we entitled to it – that’s up to his family.

  7. Here is the letter he wrote to corporate customers / subscribers to the UA sales newsletter on July 30

    “This is by far one of the most difficult letters I’ve ever had to write.

    Over the past few months, we’ve said “safe travels” to friends and teammates alike as they made profoundly personal sacrifices and took voluntary separation packages from United. More recently, we’ve made extremely difficult decisions as we become a smaller airline whose size better aligns with today’s deeply decreased demand for travel. These decisions have human consequences, and we are yet again saying goodbye to colleagues who have helped shape us as a company.

    As we go our separate ways, we cherish and celebrate good memories, of which there have been so many. Consolation exists in the knowledge that we live in a connected world, and even coronavirus won’t stop us from seeing each other again soon. For those leaving us, I will never be able to do justice to what they have meant to our company, our team and to our customers. I hope you’ll join me in a heartfelt thank you and wishing them the best in whatever the future may hold.

    It’s not hyperbole to say that our business essentially went away for a while, but that did provide a moment of pause to look forward and determine how to not just survive but eventually thrive – with you and for you. I’ve committed to transparency, and I’d like to share the ways in which we’ll be reshaping the structure and strategy of Worldwide Sales. We’ve conducted this exercise with three primary goals:

    Create a workforce appropriately sized for expected future demand and built to respond quickly when things meaningfully improve.
    Focus our resources in areas where the most travel and purchasing activity is projected for the next few years.
    Maintain strong relationships with our customers and TMCs while leveraging technology and centralized account management where we may not be as present as before.

    I believe we’ve accomplished these goals while concurrently arriving at the best possible outcomes for our business relationship. Our team will be connecting with each of you individually over the next two weeks to address any changes and plot a path forward with minimal disruption to your business.

    Not all of the conversations will be easy as the future may not look like the past. Please know that we consider this to be a new baseline from which we’ll listen, learn, adapt and ultimately grow together. We may not get everything right initially, and for that I apologize, but we count on your feedback to help us understand where we should course correct.

    Coronavirus has changed so much, but through it all we remain committed to core principles that will not change under any circumstances. We are, above all, committed to the safety and well-being of you and your travelers. We will do everything within our means to deliver best-in-class service and support. We will be consultative and deliver creative solutions and thoughtful answers to today’s extraordinary problems and questions. We will be attentive, caring, and honest. We will never take your business for granted and will earn it every single day.

    I encourage you to reach out to me and my leadership team with any concerns or questions as we work through this process. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we chart our new course.

  8. Hopefully this ends well.
    Hopefully this won’t end like that KTLA newsanchor and the meth and S&M stuff in the hotel room. 🙁

  9. Foul play by a disgruntled employee ? If he was abducted they should have found clues by now though.

  10. @D3kingg doubt it. As someone who lives right by that trail and frequents it, it’s a very well traveled/very straight forward trail, so it’d be hard for foul play to happen on it. Wish nothing but the best for him and his family

  11. Lucky I think that your Bodrum Edition review is overdue.

    It can be interesting to book it before the season end, what the plan to make us wait forever ?

  12. Where to draw the line? There are thousands of Missing Persons reports filed every day in the US, ending in various outcomes, most good.
    Just because this one happens to be employed in an industry of interest to most here does not mean it needs to be published on this blog.
    I know airline-related stories are pretty thin on the ground lately, but I feel this crosses the line.

  13. Thanks for sharing this. I would think your followers would be grateful to learn about this executive’s sudden disappearance. I am familiar with this area. Elmhurst is a lovely western suburb of Chicago. It’s surrounded by other beautiful areas, including Oak Brook. One would not expect much danger to anyone around these towns.

    I’m not personally familiar with Waterful Glen Forest Préserve, but I am acquainted with the adjacent Argonne National Laboratory, a very secure and highly guarded facility. I shall never forget a school trip there to view the nuclear reactor. Later, I knew someone who did his summer college internship there.

    Anyone who knows the Chicagoland area knows you have to be careful where you go and where you should not go, especially alone. One would not normally be fearful of that area, but, still, it’s always better to have at least one other person with you when you go to the forest preserves.

    Please keep us posted, Ben. I am praying for his safety and his family to find him well.

    BTW, this is an aviation and travel blog, and this is an important post because traveling to anywhere in the world can bring uncertainty about safety. You do a great service to your readers by bringing forth such a post. Thank you.

  14. Baffles me when people comment on a post that it doesn’t belong here at OMAAT. Why read it and then comment if that is how you feel. Today I received 8 posts in my daily summary. This is the only one that either interested me, caught my eye, or was applicable. I didn’t open the others and complain about another credit card review, etc.

    If you don’t have an interest, don’t read it. Has navigating online content become difficult for many?

    My take on family asking for privacy isn’t about spreading the word on his missing or help, it applies to news people parking at their door hounding them for comments.

  15. I hate stories like this & what baffles me is he has been missing for a week????. I hope he is found safe.

  16. Boggles the mind that some people think when someone goes missing that it should be hidden from view. Yeah, let’s keep people who might have last seen him from coming forward. Makes complete sense!

  17. Agree. What is with all these Karens attempting to impart their unwelcome editorial decisions on this site?

    Don’t like it? Write your own blog.

  18. I don’t know about y’all but this is interesting. Either he’s dead (by choice or murder) or he’s alive living a second life. Interesting how this will turn out.. either way I feel bad for his kids as they no doubt miss their dad 🙁

  19. Somebody missing after having been associated with United? My first guess would have been that he refused to vacate his seat after having boarded the aircraft, and had to face the consequences. Ask Oscar, maybe he knows what they did to him.

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