A Guide to Airport Vehicles at United - United Hub
tarmac

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-only flights transport critical goods

By The Hub team

When the pandemic began, United Cargo knew it would be critical to utilize its fleet, network and industry-leading pharmaceutical handling processes to transport a COVID-19 vaccine when the time came.

Connecting vaccines to the world: United responds to mass distribution effort

December 22, 2020

On November 27, United Airlines became the first commercial airline to safely deliver the first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine into the U.S. thanks to a coordinated effort between United's cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations, regulatory and legal teams.

Now as the entire shipping and logistics industry bands together to widely distribute vaccines, United is leveraging all of its flights, including cargo-only and those carrying passengers, to transport millions of vaccines to destinations throughout our network, including Honolulu, Guam and Saipan – the first of any carrier to do so.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Airline and its customers use crowdsourcing platform - Miles on a Mission - to donate more than 11 million miles for charities like the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care
By United Newsroom, December 01, 2020

CHICAGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United is inviting MileagePlus members to give back on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season by donating miles to nearly 40 non-profits through United Airlines' crowdsourcing platform, Miles on a Mission. Non-profits like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, College to Congress and Compass to Care are attempting to raise a total of more than 11 million miles to be used for travel for life-saving health care, continued education, humanitarian aid and more. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of these organizations to help ensure they meet their goals.

United Raises Miles for Dozens of Non-Profits that Rely on Travel

Why we fly

By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

Scroll to top