United offering luxury ground transportation for elite passengers

The service will run between terminals at Bush Intercontinental Airport

By Mark Boyle - Reporter

HOUSTON - United Airlines announced it will now offer luxury ground transportation to and from terminals for passengers with top elite status when connecting at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The airline says passengers will not know in advance whether they'll be selected until they arrive in Houston. A Global First customer service representative will meet the passenger on the jet bridge and then escort them to a waiting Mercedes Benz sedan or SUV below. Then a chauffeur will drive them to their next gate.

Stephan Brandt was flying from Newark to Corpus Christi on Tuesday with a connection at IAH. He was the first to take part in the program exclusive to IAH.

"I thought maybe they were going to drive me to Corpus Christi," Brandt joked.

He flies more than 100,000 miles a year, making him eligible for the service.

"In the case where I do connect, if this is available, it's a great convenience. It's nice to know the car is waiting for you after the flight then you don't have to rush to get to the next destination," Brandt says.

Right now there are only two cars being used for the gate-to-gate ground transportation service, but more could be added in the coming months.

United says other passengers will not know what's going on if a passenger is selected on the flight and will not delay others who are getting off the plane.

Meanwhile, the airline explains the drivers who will be chauffeuring passengers have gone through training to make sure there are no issues on the tarmac.

"All of our drivers have gone through extensive training to be able to drive on the ramp," says Stephanie Buchanan, VP with United.

Other United hubs could offer the service soon.

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