United Airlines has today announced growth plans at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which includes a $2.6 billion renovation and expansion of Terminal B, a state-of-the-art baggage system, a new United Club and more.
On Thursday (November 30, 2023), United Airlines announced a major expansion at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas. The growth plans include a $2.6 billion renovation and expansion of Terminal B, a state-of-the-art baggage handling system, a new United Club, and an Early Bag Storage (EBS) facility. As part of the carrier’s ‘United Next’ growth plan, the renovations also include the expansion of 40 gates to accommodate larger aircraft, resulting in a 40 percent increase in capacity on peak travel dates in 2026 compared to 2023. Additionally, United will launch new direct service between Houston and Georgetown, Guyana starting April 1st, 2024. The route will operate four times weekly with a Boeing 737-8 MAX.
In Thursday’s announcement, United Airlines’ CEO, Scott Kirby, said,
"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.”
Also commenting on United’s IAH expansion, Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner, said,
“Houston is a premier, world-class destination deserving of a state-of-the-art facility to welcome individuals traveling to our city. 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.”
United’s Terminal B Transformation Program’s projects include a three-level 765,000 square-foot Terminal B North Concourse with 22 mainline narrowbody gates, as well as the conversion of 30 existing small regional jet gates to 18 gates that can accommodate larger regional jets in the Terminal B South Concourse. When completed, all flights will be boarded via jet bridge. The project also includes two major concessions hubs with over 115,000 square-feet of food and retail space, a new baggage system with advanced tracking technology, a new largest-ever United Club, a sensory room for people with disabilities, and an expanded curbside and roadways capacity.
The carrier’s new Terminal B United Club, the largest in the system, will join eight new clubs opened in the last two years alone. On average, the newly opened United Clubs have 50 percent more seating than the clubs they replace, along with higher quality food and beverage options with a local flair, and a refined design that reflect the local market. Last year, United also launched United Club Fly, a grab-and-go concept in Denver which has been very well received, serving over 100,000 travelers so far this year.
United’s new cutting-edge baggage system also includes an Early Bag Storage (EBS) facility, which will become fully operational in 2024. The EBS features a capacity of over 3,300 trays to store baggage for passengers arriving early, on long layovers, or during irregular operations. The system will prioritize the release of baggage according to flight time, resulting in more efficient and dependable baggage delivery. The system boasts an impressive 40 bags-per-minute throughput and the capacity to handle 80,000 bags daily.
United Airlines' New Airbus A321neo Cabin Interior - Courtesy United Airlines
Finally, United Airlines’ first Airbus A321neo will take its inaugural flight from IAH today, the first new Airbus aircraft to join the carrier’s fleet since 2002. The aircraft features United’s most advanced cabin ever, including Panasonic’s new NEXT IFE system, which offers an up to 13 inch 4K screen, a customizable passenger experience, a 3D map with destination guides, onboard menus and more. United’s A321neo also features new domestic First Class seats with wireless charging and more privacy, larger overhead bins, high-speed Wi-Fi with streaming capability, Bluetooth connectivity and LED lighting. Between 2023 and 2032, United expects to take delivery of approximately 800 new aircraft, while retrofitting existing narrowbody aircraft with their new Signature Interior.
Source: United Airlines