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 Makes it Easier for Customers to Find and Use Travel Credits

The airline offers customers the most transparent and user-friendly options in the industry to encourage and simplify using travel credits
By United Newsroom, September 23, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United today announced it is giving customers even more flexibility when they need to rebook their travel by helping them to find and use their travel credits. United is the only airline to make it easy for customers to use their credits by automatically displaying them as a payment option during the checkout process. This functionality will be available for MileagePlus® members first and the airline is working to roll it out to all customers in the near future. Also, beginning next week, United will be the first to let customers use their travel credits for extra legroom seats and to pre-pay for checked baggage.

United Airlines Plans to Begin Flights Between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria in November

United to operate the first ever nonstop flight between Washington, D.C. and Lagos and offer more flights between D.C. and Africa than any other carrier
By United Newsroom, September 17, 2021

CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines announced today that new service between Washington, D.C. and Lagos, Nigeria will begin November 29 (subject to government approval). The airline will operate three weekly flights connecting the U.S. capital to Nigeria's largest city, which is also the top Western African destination for U.S-based travelers. Tickets will be available for sale on united.com and the United app this weekend.

United, Honeywell Invest in New Clean Tech Venture from Alder Fuels, Powering Biggest Sustainable Fuel Agreement in Aviation History

United agrees to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over 20 years - which is one and a half times the size of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced SAF commitments combined
By United Newsroom, September 09, 2021

CHICAGO and DES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United and Honeywell today announced a joint multimillion-dollar investment in Alder Fuels – a cleantech company that is pioneering first-of-its-kind technologies for producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at scale by converting abundant biomass, such as forest and crop waste, into sustainable low-carbon, drop-in replacement crude oil that can be used to produce aviation fuel. When used together across the fuel lifecycle, the Alder technologies, coupled with Honeywell's Ecofining™ process, could have the ability to produce a carbon-negative fuel at spec with today's jet fuel. The goal of the technologies is to produce fuel that is a 100% drop-in replacement for petroleum jet fuel.

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