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United expands in Houston with $2.6B Terminal Project, state-of-the-art baggage system, New Club and new jobs

  • United-IAH-Terminal-B
    United's Terminal B Transformation Program
  • United A321neo, cabin

Terminal B investments include expansion of 40 gates for larger aircraft, allowing for 40% more people to fly from George Bush Intercontinental Airport

HOUSTON – United announced growth plans in Houston that include a $2.6 billion renovation and expansion of Terminal B at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), a new United Club location and Early Bag Storage facility (EBS) as well as a new direct flight to Georgetown, Guyana*.

These investments are part of the airline’s United Next growth plan and include the expansion of 40 gates at IAH to accommodate larger aircraft, resulting in a 40% increase in the overall number of people who can fly on peak travel dates in 2026 compared to 2023.

United is the largest airline in Houston, with more than 14,000 employees and 400 daily departures – the airline hired more than 2,100 people locally in 2023 and expects to add another 1,500 in 2024. This expansion is also expected to create an additional 4,000 construction jobs.  According to a recent study by Compass Lexecon, United’s direct employment in Houston contributes to more than $1.2 billion in economic activity annually. Including the Terminal B project, United has invested more than $3.5 billion in its Houston facilities since 2015.

United CEO Scott Kirby will be joined by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other officials to celebrate the expansion and show off the airline’s new Airbus A321neo, which takes its inaugural flight from Houstonand is one of 800 new planes set to join United’s fleet between 2023 and 2032.

“United Next is about new investments that improve the customer experience and building careers for the next generation of aviation professionals – and all those things and more are coming to life here in Houston,” said Kirby.

Terminal B Expansion

United’s Terminal B Transformation Program, pending final approval from Houston’s city council, will play an important part in the estimated 54 million future passengers that will annually travel throughout the Houston hub and aims to improve the travel experience from arrival to departure.

Project highlights include:

  • A three-level, 765,000 sq. ft. Terminal B North Concourse with 22 mainline, narrow-body gates
  • Converting 30 existing small regional jet gates to 18 gates to accommodate larger, two-class regional jets in the Terminal B South Concourse
  • Boarding via jet bridge for all flights
  • Two major concessions hubs with more than 115,000 sq. ft. of food and retail space
  • A new, state-of-the-art baggage handling system equipped with advanced tracking technology
  • The largest United Club in our system
  • Expanded curbside and roadway capacity with a ground-level check-in area, including the addition of a traffic bypass between Terminals B and A to allow Terminal B customers to exit the airport without having to drive past Terminal A as they do today
  • A new sensory room for passengers with disabilities

“Houston is a premier, world-class destination deserving of a state-of-the-art facility to welcome individuals traveling to our city,” said Mayor Turner. “The expansion of Terminal B is physical proof of United’s ongoing commitment to the economic vitality of the City of Houston.  We are grateful for United, one of the city’s largest employers, for creating nearly 4,000 new jobs for our community and enhancing the growing demand for domestic and international travel globally.” 

New United Club

A new United Club, the largest in the system, is being planned for Terminal B in Houston, which will join the eight new United Club locations that have opened in the last two years – the largest ever overhaul of the airline’s lounge spaces.

United’s new clubs boast 50% more seating space on average than the clubs they replace, higher-quality food and beverage options with local flair, and refined designs that reflect the local market and a modern take on the United Club experience. Last year, United also launched United Club Fly – a first-of-its-kind grab-and-go club concept in Denver which has been very well received by travelers; this year alone more than 100,000 travelers have visited United Club Fly.

New Direct Service to Georgetown, Guyana

United offers more flights from Houston to more destinations than any other airline and this winter will increase capacity by nearly 10%, flying to more than double the number of cities from Houston than all other airlines combined.

On April 1, United will be the first airline to offer non-stop service between Houston and Georgetown, Guyana*, with four times weekly service on a Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft. This route joins nonstop flights to more than 160 destinations from Houston, including more than 85 destinations no other carriers serve non-stop from the city – including places like Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru and more.

Over the past decade, United has added more than 20 new destinations out of Houston, including to Sydney, Australia; Santiago, Chile; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Munich, Germany and more.

The airline will also debut its largest-ever schedule between Houston and Florida this March, with a 25% increase in flying compared to 2023. The airline is adding more than 200 additional flights in March to top destinations including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando and more.

New, Cutting-Edge Baggage System 

United also previewed a new Early Bag Storage facility set to become fully operational in early 2024. With a capacity of more than 3,300 trays to store baggage for passengers arriving early before departure, on long layovers, or during irregular operations when flights are delayed, the system will prioritize the release of baggage according to flight time allowing for more efficient and dependable baggage delivery. The new system has a remarkable 40 bags per-minute throughput enabling United’s overall baggage system to handle an impressive 80,000 bags per day. United is the only U.S. airline with a dedicated EBS facility, making it the most advanced in North America.

A321neo Joins the Fleet

United’s new Airbus A321neo takes its inaugural flight from Houston on November 30. This is the first new Airbus aircraft to enter United’s fleet since 2002 and features United’s most advanced cabin interior yet – including Panasonic’s new NEXT inflight entertainment system, which offers an up to 13 inch, 4K screen and a customizable passenger experience including curated content options, a more detailed flight timeline, 3D map with destination guides and onboard food and beverage menus. The new aircraft also offers:

  • United’s new domestic first-class seat, with wireless charging and more privacy
  • Larger overhead bins with space for every passenger’s roll aboard bag
  • High-speed Wi-Fi with streaming capabilities
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • LED lighting designed to create a modern, calming atmosphere

The A321neo is just the latest addition to United’s fleet as progress continues on the airline’s ambitious United Next growth strategy; United expects to take delivery of about 800 new narrowbody and widebody aircraft between 2023 and the end of 2032, while retrofitting existing narrowbody aircraft with United’s Signature Interior.

 

*flights subject to government approval.

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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