MIAMI — United Airlines and restaurant partner OTG Management used the “Truffle Week in the Terminal” event, which launched on November 5, to highlight the changes at the carrier’s Terminal C at its Newark-Liberty International Airport hub.

Rick Hoefling is United’s vice president of the Newark Hub, and has been with the carrier for more than 30 years. “I’ve been here long enough to see a lot of the transformation here at Terminal C. United has made a significant investment, around $2 billion so far, and more projects and investments are coming,” he added.

Rick Hoefling, United’s vice president of the Newark Hub. (Credits: United Airlines)
Rick Hoefling, United’s vice president of the Newark Hub. (Credits: United Airlines)

A major part of the transformation is the redesign of the security checkpoint, said Hoefling. “We will be the first airport with a fully automated screening experience,” he said. “Some airports have been testing these lanes, but Newark will be the only terminal doing it in all lanes.” The airport will go from four checkpoints to one consolidated one with 19 lanes.

Seventeen of the lanes, which will be automated, will offer enhanced efficiency and benefits for passengers and the Transportation Security Administration, said Hoefling.

The new lanes, to be opened in March, will allow up to five customers to fill their individual bins simultaneously and move through the screening process quicker, even if TSA agents need to perform additional screening on a customer further up the queue. These lanes will feature a parallel conveyor system that automatically returns empty bins to the front of the queue.

United is also installing audio and visual enhancements using the latest technology to provide customers with more information about queue wait times.

The airline is modernizing and upgrading United Clubs in Terminal C, including locations in C1 and C3, said Hoefling.  C1 will reopen in mid-2017 and C3 at end of 2017.  “The new Polaris Lounge will open in two phases, starting in May 2017, with phase two planned for later in the year,” he said.  The Polaris Lounge will be in the current location of the C3 United Club, where the current space will be expanded. The United Club will be relocated to the end of the C-3 concourse.

United is working on the Premier Lobby to enhance the passenger experience, said Hoefling. It’s removing offices and bag belts from the storefront to open up space and allow full window views, new revolving doors, new lighting with blue track lighting and uplighting and new ticket counters.

The airline is also investing $5 million to modernize Terminal A, with 16 gates and a new baggage system, said Hoefling. The terminal’s new United Club is expected open in 2017.

And this does not include the $120 million being spent by OTG, which is near completing a total upgrade of the food/beverage and retail concessions, along with gate seating areas in Terminal C.  Some of the more unique concepts already open include:

  • Daily, the first airport restaurant in the world with a menu that is completely comprised of local and seasonal ingredients and changes every day;
  • Little Purse, a dumpling and noodle house created by two-time “Top Chef” cheftestant Dale Talde; and
  • Tacquila, which features street-style tacos and a bar that sells 200 different types of tequila.
OTG and United Airlines partnered to open Daily, the world’s first airport restaurant where the menu changes every day. (Credits: OTG)
OTG and United Airlines partnered to open Daily, the world’s first airport restaurant where the menu changes every day. (Credits: OTG)

Hoefling said he appreciates all the changes coming to Newark, and so will passengers. “Travelers can already see what’s happening with OTG and there’s more coming,” he said. “This isn’t just about food and beverage, but a transformation of the whole passenger experience. The fact that passengers can order a great steak and a nice glass of wine at their gate in a comfortable seating area is fantastic.”

Dale Talde is best known for competing on two seasons of Top Chef. Besides creating Little Purse, he also runs the eponymous restaurant Talde in Brooklyn, New York. (Credits: OTG)
Dale Talde is best known for competing on two seasons of Top Chef. Besides creating Little Purse, he also runs the eponymous restaurant Talde in Brooklyn, New York. (Credits: OTG)

The Terminal C projects will be completed in 2017, said Hoefling. “My hope is that anybody coming into Terminal C can see how committed we’ve been to improve the passenger experience. Our CEO talks about the new spirit at United it all the time,” he said. “I’ve been here 30 years and it’s authentic and growing. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited.”