United Airlines elevating customer experience in Houston in a couple of big ways

United Airlines said today it is about to enhance the experience it offers customers traveling through its hub at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

United traditionally has operated a schedule of 10 flight banks at its Houston hub. A flight bank is the scheduling of a number of arriving and departing flights within a short time frame.

The airline’s new plan in Houston "” effective Oct. 29 "” calls for shrinking the 10 flight banks to just eight to create more east-west connection opportunities throughout United’s domestic route system and to Latin America, for which United’s Houston hub is a major gateway.

If it succeeds, the plan will mean more convenient (read: shorter) flight connection times and better access to more destinations for United customers transiting through the carrier’s Houston hub. If it doesn’t work "” which can happen when weather and mechanicals and other situations cause significant delays "” then United customers may not be so thrilled with the rebanking plan.

Still, Andrew Nocella, United’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, is upbeat about the coming changes. «We are excited to take these steps to improve our operations in Houston, which will offer our customers greater access to more destinations throughout the country and more opportunities for connections,» Nocella said.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also likes what he sees so far about United’s scheduling change. «Our world-class airport system is a key part of what makes our economy run,» Turner said, «and this effort will further strengthen this vital piece of of our community.»

The flight rebanking effort is the first of two big changes coming to United’s Houston hub. In 2018, United passengers will experience the fruits of a $277 million investment in United’s new C North Concourse, which has been decked out with roomier gate waiting areas, technology enhancements and upgraded dining options.

Houston, of course, has been a major part of United’s operations since the airline’s merger in 2010 with Continental Airlines, which had its largest hub in Houston. Today, United operates nearly 500 daily flights from Houston to more than 170 destinations, including 52 nonstop destinations in Latin American and the Caribbean. United employs more than 14,000 people in Houston…

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