In Houston, United announced development plans 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), and a new direct flight to Georgetown, Guyana*.
These enhancements are part of the airline’s United Next growth plan, which includes the construction 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.
With over 14,000 employees and 400 daily departures, United is the largest airline in Houston; the airline hired more than 2,100 people locally in 2023 and aims to add another 1,500 in 2024.
This development is also projected to generate 4,000 new construction jobs. According to a recent Compass Lexecon analysis, United’s direct employment in Houston generates more than $1.2 billion annually in economic activity. Since 2015, United has spent more than $3.5 billion on its Houston facilities, including the Terminal B project.
United CEO Scott Kirby was joined by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other dignitaries to celebrate the expansion and show off the airline’s new Airbus A321neo, which takes its inaugural flight from Houston and is one of 800 new planes expected 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,” Kirby said.
Terminal B Expansion
United’s Terminal B Transformation Programme, still awaiting final clearance from Houston’s city council, will play a significant role in the expected 54 million future passengers travelling through the Houston hub each year 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 travelling to our city,” Turner said. “The expansion of Terminal B is physical proof of United’s ongoing commitment to the economic vitality of Houston.” We are grateful for United, one of the city’s largest employers, for creating nearly four thousand new jobs in 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 planned for Houston’s Terminal B, joining the eight new United Club locations that have opened in the last two years – the airline’s largest-ever overhaul of its lounge spaces.
New Direct Service to Georgetown, Guyana
United will be the first airline to operate nonstop service between Houston and Georgetown, Guyana* on a four-times-weekly service beginning 1 April 2024.
New, Cutting-Edge Baggage System
United also previewed a new Early Bag Storage facility today, which will be fully operational in early 2024. With over 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 prioritise baggage release based on flight time, allowing for more efficient and dependable baggage delivery.
The A321neo has joined the fleet.
On 30 November, United’s new Airbus A321neo took its inaugural flight from Houston. This is United’s first new Airbus aircraft since 2002. It features the most advanced cabin interior yet, including Panasonic’s new NEXT inflight entertainment system, which offers an up to 13-inch, 4K screen and a customisable passenger experience, including curated content options, a more detailed flight timeline, a 3D map with destination guides, and onboard food and beverage menus.
*Flights are subject to government approval.