United and OTG Bringing iPads and Gourmet Food to Houston Airport
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
United Airlines passengers at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport will soon have some new features to help them pass the time while they wait for their flights.
United plans to install as many as 8,000 iPads in the three terminals that it uses at the Southeast Texas hub. The iPads will be free for public use. Passengers will be able to use the devices to play electronic games, but also to search for airport information, order food and even shop.
Plans for the terminal upgrades were announced last week. The most noticeable changes will be in Terminal C's new C North Concourse. They are scheduled to be completed sometime next year.
United has already undertaken a similar effort to improve the passenger experience at Newark International. The project there includes 6,000 iPads and new high-end restaurants that passengers can use the devices to order from.
The biggest draw for passengers who use the iPads in Houston will not only be the devices themselves, but the ability to order food from non-chain restaurants that provide quality not usually found in airport food courts. The food can be paid for using credit or United rewards points, and orders will be delivered to right where the passenger is sitting.
Project will be overseen by OTG
This new kind of airport experience has been developed by airport service company OTG, which will use its proprietary tablet-based system, called flo. It will focus on bringing quality food and drink to the three Houston terminals used by United. OTG will run all the food and retail operations in Terminal B (South), Terminal C and Terminal E.
The improvements have already started. OTG has opened several of its CIBO Express Gourmet Markets, which feature local products and healthy food options, in Terminal E.
OTG CEO Rick Blatstein hyped the project in a recent press release. “This will be a brand new airport experience for Houston travelers including restaurants inspired by local chefs, the addition of modern amenities such as iPads, redesigned gate areas and world-class shopping. We are thrilled to be part of this partnership.”
READ MORE: United Unveils Upgrades at Newark Liberty
The service company also announced some of the chefs who will be involved in the new restaurants that are part of the project. Most of the chef-driven eateries will be located in the new C North Concourse section of Terminal C, which will open in early 2017.
Some of the names involved are very familiar to Houston foodies. Chef Roland Laurenzo will open a taqueria, Ryan Pera will bring a seasonally changing menu of gourmet pizzas to the airport, and John Nguyen will be serving his locally popular fusion of Vietnamese and Cajun cuisines in the new space as well. Chris Shepherd, 2014 James Beard Best Chef Southwest, will also be involved in the airport food scene.
Other upgrades to Bush Intercontinental’s United terminals will include USB ports and lounge-style seating.
The project will be quite expensive. OTG reportedly invested $120 million in the Newark upgrades. Though the firm hasn’t provided any details about the cost of the Houston project, it appears to be a much larger endeavor.
More by Josh Lew
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