Banking on Houston - United Hub

Banking on Houston Airport

By Matt Adams, June 27, 2017

Earlier this year, President Scott Kirby spoke with employees about the future of United and our plans to build the best airline for everyone we serve. "To be the best airline in the world, there are two 'must haves': the best people and the best network," he said. Calling United the airline with the "greatest route network potential in the world," we are focused on strengthening our hubs, creating opportunities for future growth and competing aggressively for customers everywhere we fly. Now, we are embarking on a new strategy in Houston that will help us achieve those ends.

For several years, we have operated a schedule of ten "flight banks" at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, with the hub serving as a connection point primarily for east-to-west routes across the U.S. Beginning this fall, however, we are moving from that model to a consolidated eight-bank structure that connects passengers from all directions, giving us more flexibility to feed aircraft throughout the entire country while maximizing our approximately 90 gates at Houston Airport.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of "banking," think of a bank of flights as a cluster of aircraft that all arrive at a hub at roughly the same time and then depart to different destinations around the spoke. In the past we would see, say, 50 arrivals per bank spread throughout the day. But under the new schedule plan, we'll have eight daily peaks with upwards of 75-80 aircraft arriving at once.

Doing this allows us to improve connectivity for our customers and provide greater access to more destinations across the country. The move is also expected to increase passenger demand in several markets, enabling us to upgauge some United Express flights to larger mainline aircraft, and will result in better utilization of our space at the airport.

To help minimize any negative impact on our operation and employees, our Network Planning team worked closely with Houston Airport's leadership, eliciting feedback from the different operational groups and ensuring that potential pitfalls were addressed.

"We are going to invest in the right assets in Houston so that our employees have the tools they need to be successful under this new configuration," said Mark Nelsen, Operations Network Analysis Senior Manager. "For instance, we're focused on things like making sure the baggage system, our lobbies, TSA and ATC can all handle the increased movement of customers during those eight peaks. We're also adding staffing so that our employees can adequately support larger numbers of flights in each bank."

Additionally, there will be several other areas of investment meant to facilitate the new bank structure, including installing more lobby kiosks and adding ground support equipment.

With more flights, more route options and more available seats in and out of Houston, we are looking to better connect people to the places and moments that matter most. Customers can begin purchasing tickets for flights within the new schedule on June 24 for travel beginning on October 29.

Adjusting to Customer Demand, United Adds New Nonstop Service to Florida

By United Newsroom, August 12, 2020

CHICAGO, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. The new, nonstop flights reflect United's continuing strategy to aggressively, and opportunistically manage the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to destinations where customers most want to fly.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

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