With one in four of United Airlines Denver passengers flying on United Express, the airline hopes its new regional jet facility at Denver International Airport will improve their experience once it opens next month.
Travelers on airlines' smaller planes are often relegated to modest regional jet terminals with fewer amenities and more humble boarding experiences - often involving a walk outside and up a staircase to the plane.
The new regional jet facility that will open April 24 on DIA's Concourse B will have jet bridges on 13 of its 16 gates. Concessions will include a Starbucks, a Heidi's Brooklyn Deli and a New Belgium hub restaurant and bar.
In recent years, United's use of regional jets has grown, particularly out of Denver. From 2000 to 2006, it increased regional-jet capacity by 50 percent with more departures and bigger planes. United's new general manager in Denver, Mike Scanlan, said he expects the carrier's local flight operations to remain relatively stable in coming years.
Along with the opening of the regional jet facility, United will complete its move from Concourse A, consolidating its operations on Concourse B.
Scanlan worked for United at Los Angeles International Airport before taking on the job at DIA. He said he was drawn by the opportunity here, where United has "a lot of inexperienced leaders. There's lots of new people," he said.
United has more than 5,000 employees in Denver and is hiring nearly 100 more for ramp service and customer service to improve operations during peak periods.
During the December blizzards, Scanlan said he learned the limits of the airline's ability to operate when two airplanes got stuck a short distance from the gate. He said United continues to work with DIA on snow removal capability.
Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi can be reached at 303-954-1488 or at .