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United Airlines Invests $2.6b in Houston Terminal Project

United Expands in Houston with $2.6B Terminal Project, State-of-the-Art Baggage System, New Club and Thousands of New Jobs

United Airlines is making exciting growth plans for its Houston Terminal. The airline is investing $2.6 billion to renovate and expand Terminal B at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Additionally, they will open a new United Club location and Early Bag Storage facility (EBS). Furthermore, travelers can look forward to a new direct flight from Houston to Georgetown, Guyana*. These developments by United Airlines will undoubtedly enhance the travel experience for passengers in Houston.

United Expands in Houston with $2.6B Terminal Project, State-of-the-Art Baggage System, New Club and Thousands of New Jobs
IAH Terminal B Transformation Program to accommodate a projected 36 million future passengers with brand new gates and amenities for travelers.
  • Expansion of 40 gates for larger aircraft, resulting in a 40% increase in passenger capacity at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
  • Introduction of the largest United Club in the nation.
  • Establishment of the only Early Bag Storage facility in North America.
  • Creation of 1,500 United positions in Houston next year.
  • Generation of 4,000 construction-related jobs throughout the project.
  • Celebration of overall growth in Houston by CEO Scott Kirby.
  • Commencement of a new direct flight to Georgetown, Guyana.
  • Integration of the airline’s new Airbus A321neo.

United Next Growth Plan

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 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 should 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 joins Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other officials to celebrate the expansion and show off the airline’s new Airbus A321neo. The aircraft takes its inaugural flight from Houston. It 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.

United’s Houston 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 annually traveling 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 the airline’s 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 In Houston Terminal B

A brand new United Club in Terminal B in Houston will be the largest in the airline’s system. This addition will join the eight new United Club locations that have opened in the past two years, making it the biggest transformation of the airline’s lounge spaces ever.

The new United Clubs offer 50% more seating space than the previous ones, along with an upgraded selection of food and beverages highlighting local flavors. Designers carefully craft these clubs to reflect the unique characteristics of the local market, providing a modernized United Club experience.

In addition to these developments, United introduced a groundbreaking concept called United Club FlySM in Denver. This grab-and-go club has received rave reviews from travelers, with over 100,000 visitors in this year alone.

Direct Service to Georgetown, Guyana 

United Airlines offers an extensive range of flights from Houston to various destinations, surpassing any other airline in terms of availability. This winter, the airline will increase its capacity by almost 10%, significantly expanding its flight network from Houston. In fact, United Airlines will be the first carrier to offer non-stop service between Houston and Georgetown, Guyana, starting from April 1st. This new route will operate on a Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft four times a week. Additionally, United Airlines provides nonstop flights to over 160 destinations from Houston, including more than 85 destinations not served non-stop by any other airlines. These destinations encompass various countries, such as Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, and Peru.

Over the past ten years, United Airlines has steadily added over 20 new destinations from Houston, including popular cities like Sydney, Australia; Santiago, Chile; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Munich, Germany.

Furthermore, United Airlines plans its largest-ever schedule connecting Houston and Florida this March. With a remarkable 25% increase in flights compared to 2023, the airline is introducing over 200 additional flights to top destinations within Florida. These destinations include Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, and more.

United’s Cutting-Edge Baggage System  

United Airlines announced a new Early Bag Storage facility, which should be fully operational by early 2024. This state-of-the-art facility will have a capacity of over 3,300 trays to store passengers’ baggage. It will cater to passengers who arrive early before their departure, those with long layovers, and during flight delays. The new system will prioritize the release of baggage based on flight time, ensuring efficient and reliable delivery. Notably, this advanced facility can handle an impressive 80,000 bags daily with a remarkable throughput of 40 bags per minute. United Airlines is the only U.S. airline with a dedicated Early Bag Storage facility, making it the most advanced in North America.

A321neo Joins the Fleet 

United Airlines’ brand new Airbus A321neo launched its first flight from Houston on November 30. This marks a significant milestone as the first addition to United’s fleet of Airbus aircraft since 2002. Onboard, passengers can look forward to experiencing United’s most advanced cabin interior, complete with Panasonic’s cutting-edge NEXT inflight entertainment system. This impressive system boasts a 13-inch 4K screen, allowing passengers to enjoy a personalized and immersive journey. With curated content options, a comprehensive flight timeline, a 3D map featuring destination guides, and onboard food and beverage menus, United ensures a delightful and engaging passenger experience. 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 creates 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 are subject to government approval.

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