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United To Invest $2.6 Billion in Houston (IAH), Including New Gates and Its Largest Lounge in the World

Chris Dong's image
Chris Dong
Chris Dong's image

Chris Dong

Editor & Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 54U.S. States Visited: 36

Chris is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Formerly full time ...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

Countries Visited: 25U.S. States Visited: 22

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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United Airlines is upping the ante at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). With 400 daily departures, United’s hub at IAH is set to grow by 40% in passenger volume by 2026.

Here’s what you can expect from the $2.6 billion renovation and expansion of Houston’s Terminal B.

Houston Airport (IAH) Terminal B Expansion

It’s estimated that by 2026, United’s Terminal B at IAH will see an estimated 54 million passengers annually. The $2.6 billion project, pending final approval from Houston’s city council, aims to improve the travel experience from arrival to departure.  

That includes a massive 765,000 sq. ft. North Concourse with 22 narrow-body gates and the conversion of 30 existing small regional jet gates to 18 gates to accommodate larger, 2-class regional jets in the Terminal B South Concourse. Jet bridge boarding will also be added for all flights. In addition, 2 major concessions hubs with more than 115,000 sq. ft. of food and retail space will be added.

Finally, expanded curbside and roadway capacity is part of the plan with a ground-level check-in area, including the addition of a traffic bypass to allow Terminal B customers to exit the airport without having to drive past Terminal A as they do today.

“Houston is a premier, world-class destination deserving of a state-of-the-art facility to welcome individuals traveling to our city,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester 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.” 

The Largest United Club In the World

United Club DEN B East Bar Mural
United Club DEN B East. Image Credit: United

There’s good news for United Club members who travel through Houston. A new United Club, the largest in the system, is being planned for Terminal B. This will join the 8 new United Club locations that have opened in the last 2 years, the largest overhaul of the airline’s lounge spaces.  Currently, the title of the largest United Club goes to the B-east Denver International Airport location. That lounge has more than 600 seats across 3 levels.

United’s new clubs offer 50% more seating space than the clubs they replace, higher-quality food and beverage options with local flair, and updated designs.

A New Baggage System

United is also planning to improve the checked baggage process. The “Early Bag Storage” (EBS) facility, set to become fully operational in early 2024, has a capacity of more than 3,300 trays to store bags for passengers arriving early, on long layovers, or during irregular operations when flights are delayed.

The new system has a 40 bags-per-minute throughput, enabling United’s overall baggage system to handle 80,000 bags per day. United is the only U.S. airline with a dedicated EBS facility.

Final Thoughts

With a massive investment at IAH, United is committing to bringing over 4,000 jobs to the city of Houston within the next few years. Along with a new airport experience, United will unveil its A321neo aircraft later today, the first new Airbus for United since 2002.

Chris Dong's image

About Chris Dong

Chris is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Formerly full-time at The Points Guy, his work can now be found at AFAR, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, and Lonely Planet, among others

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