Friday, February 10, 2017

The Stars Were Out: A sneak peek at the new Terminal C North in Houston

Stars overhead in the new C North of IAH

Scott Kirby, President of United
It was a star-studded night in IAH as special guests were treated a soiree Texas-style in the new C North Terminal. Granted, these were mostly stars hung from the rafters of the spacious new terminal, still being finished out. Oh, there were stars from those closely related to the building of the new United Terminal, as well as from the city, and the airline, such as Scott Kirby, United Airline’s new President.

He touted the pride felt in seeing this new facility, comparing it to another terminal he was familiar with only several hundred miles north, referring to his stint working with American Airlines at DFW. He drew applause when commenting that he hopes to turn IAH into the number one airport in the great state of Texas.

Penguin, Scott, Jason and Clinton
It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Kirby, who asked me to call him Scott, so I asked the same of him. He was warm and personable, taking a moment for a photo and talking about family and travel. I also enjoyed meeting other United employees and corporate representatives from OTG. As the beverages flowed, so did the good spirits of the attendees.

The event was as grand as the space, allowing guests to sample the food. which in a few short months will be enjoyed by the traveling public. Along with an assortment of wines and specialty cocktails, we were treated to panini sandwiches, tacos in the variety of chicken, shrimp and fried avocado, seared tuna, prime rib, hand-tossed pizzas, sushi as well as an assortment of hors d'oeuvres passed out on silver platters. For dessert. there were cookies and brownies, as well as a huge white cake shaped like the new terminal building, upon which were projected images making the edible building seem to come to life.
Enjoying some treats

As with terminal openings I’ve attended in the past, there were also lots of photographers taking photos of everything from guests, to food, and of the ever so important amenities that will soon be open to the traveling public. Guests were offered photo flip books and professional take home images in front of a banner wall of logos.

Penguin with ice sculpture
Terminal-shaped cake

The terminal was grand and makes a wonderful first impression, with it’s large space and central court spread out under a field of waving stars. It was almost as if the space were created for aircraft instead of people, it was so grand in scale. Large windows allow for ample natural light, and when the Texas sun set, the space was warmly illuminated in blue hues, seemingly picked from the color palette of United Airlines, herself, aligning well with Polaris, the airline’s new first class product.

Hues of blue

Grand spaces

Night lighting

Not all of the gates were available for viewing, and as witnessed from looking out of the numerous windows, there is still a lot of construction going on to get the facility ready for opening day, billed as March of 2017. This was, after all, a sneak peek, not an opening, but the peek was impressive.

Special guests enjoy the evening

Prominent in the proceedings of the evening was OTG, a restaurateur which operates more than 300 restaurants and retail concepts in ten airports across North America. If you’ve seen the upgraded Newark airport, you know what to expect. The new Terminal C North has modern eating areas with electronic tablets set up for placing food and drink orders and apps to occupy the time of passengers in transit. The chairs were bolted to the floor, so no worries about strangers elbowing you, here. If the food served to guests is any indication, any discriminating palette can be accommodated, but it has the potential to leave the wallet a bit starved.


Guests were presented gift bags, which contained 
The paperweight commemorative sits on my shelves at home
more food samples and a paper weight to commemorate the building. It was red carpet from start to finish and everyone seemed to delight in the spectacle. The $277 million, 265,000-square-foot terminal was built by United in partnership with the Houston Airport System will soon house new United gates, including gates designed for the new 787 and 777-300 aircraft in her fleet. On one of the walls in the bar area, it was appropriately stated, the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of the Texas!
Texas pride

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