A Guide to Airport Vehicles at United - United Hub

A guide to airport vehicles

By The Hub team, August 25, 2016

You've seen them buzzing around the terminal traveling from gate to gate; you've even probably witnessed them pulling planes ten times their size, but what are these clever little cars? They're the heavy duty airport vehicles, and though they may look similar, at United each one has a specific purpose. Take a look through our comprehensive guide to learn more about these nimble airport vehicles and find out what they do.

United's Tug Vehicle

Super tug

The super tug moves planes between gates and runways. These incredible vehicles can push or pull aircraft that weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds with ease. A typical tug has an engine producing about 400 horsepower — equivalent to a sports car — and an incredible 1,475 pounds per foot of torque, the same as a tank. And because the planes don't need to use their engines to back up or pull into a gate, tugs help save fuel and are better for the environment.

United's Baggage Tractor

Baggage tractor

The baggage tractor looks small, but it has a critical job — ferrying baggage across the tarmac to and from airplanes and the baggage handling areas located in the terminal. Baggage is transported by a train of organized dollies attached to a tractor, allowing it to carry an entire plane's worth of bags in one trip.

United's Container Loaders

Container loaders

The container loader is an unsung hero of the tarmac world — it has the task of loading enormous shipping pallets into the cargo hold of a plane. And while it may not be the best-looking vehicle out there, it's all business. A typical container loader can lift and load pallets up to 14 tons — same as the weight of about eight family sedans. Two independently operated platforms can rise and lower on command, allowing cargo loading onto a plane with ease.

Chelsea Food Services Truck

Chelsea Food Services truck

The Chelsea Food Services truck (also known by its less glamorous name of catering vehicle) has the task of loading food onto United flights — more than 4,000 pounds at a time depending on the type of aircraft. United is the only U.S. carrier with a dedicated food service kitchen, so when you see the food services truck scissor-lift its way up to your aircraft, you know that you're about to be served fresh, delicious food, prepared just for you.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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