United expands in Houston with $2.6 billion IAH Terminal upgrade

Image of new United Airlines Terminal B complex in Houston.
Image Credit: United Airlines

United Airlines has recently announced an impressive $2.6 billion renovation and expansion plan for Terminal B at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

This bold initiative is part of United’s broader growth strategy, aptly named United Next, which aims to redefine the passenger experience and solidify the airline’s position as a key player in the aviation industry.

United Next in Houston


United Airlines, already the largest carrier in Houston, is set to elevate its presence with a 40% increase in overall passenger capacity by 2026.

This strategic expansion includes the addition of 40 gates at IAH, specifically designed to accommodate larger aircraft.

The airline’s impact on Houston’s economy is noteworthy, with over 14,000 employees and 400 daily departures. United’s contribution to the local economy exceeds $1.2 billion annually, according to a study by Compass Lexecon.

Notably, this expansion is not just about enhancing the traveler’s journey but also creating jobs—over 2,100 hires in 2023, and a projected 1,500 more in 2024. The ripple effect extends to construction, providing an estimated 4,000 jobs.

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IAH Terminal B Transformation Program to accommodate a projected 36 million future passengers with brand new gates and amenities for travelers

Terminal B Transformation Unveiled


Pending approval from Houston’s city council, United’s Terminal B Transformation Program promises a revolutionary change in the travel landscape.

Boasting a three-level, 765,000 sq. ft. Terminal B North Concourse with 22 mainline, narrow-body gates, this expansion aims to cater to an estimated 54 million passengers annually.

Notable features include the conversion of 30 regional jet gates, a state-of-the-art baggage handling system, and the largest United Club in the system.

Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed gratitude for United’s commitment, stating, “Houston is a premier, world-class destination deserving of a state-of-the-art facility to welcome individuals traveling to our city.”

A United Airlines 737 lands in Miami.
Photo Credit: Venkat Mangudi, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pinnacle of Comfort: New United Club


Adding another feather to its cap, United plans to introduce the largest United Club in Terminal B, Houston.

This upscale facility will redefine the airport lounge experience, with 50% more seating space, elevated food and beverage options, and sophisticated designs reflecting the local market.

New Baggage System   


United today 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, it will 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. 

Off to Georgetown, Guyana


As an addition to its Houston connectivity, United plans to inaugurate a non-stop service between Houston and Georgetown, Guyana next year, commencing April 1, subject to regulatory approvals.

Operating four times weekly on a Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft, this new route strengthens Houston’s position as a hub for international travel, with over 160 destinations served, including unique offerings like Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru, and more.

Summary


United’s trajectory of growth is unrelenting. Over the past decade, the airline has introduced more than 20 new destinations from Houston, spanning the globe from Sydney, Australia, to Munich, Germany.

March 2024 will witness United’s largest-ever schedule between Houston and Florida, with a 25% increase in flights compared to 2023.

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