United steps up with larger aircraft for Harlingen-Houston route

HARLINGEN — As United Flight 6050 taxied toward the terminal after landing, both barrels opened up.

Valley International Airport’s Charlie I and II firefighting trucks were there to welcome the maiden flight of the United Airline’s first of many Embraer 175 jets to arrive from Houston.

As their water cannons showered down on the airliner, the pilot slowly manuevered his plane to the terminal.

The E-175 is a major step up for United Airlines and the airport, with a seating capacity of 76 which is about one-quarter more seats than the previous jet on the Harlingen-Houston route.

With two flights in and two out to Houston daily, that adds up to a lot of extra passenger capability for Valley International Airport.

“These planes are the big brother of the Embraer 145 that comes here, the 50-seater,” Jose Mulet, director of air service development and marketing for the airport, said yesterday.

“The one thing about this is the overhead compartments are bigger,” Mulet added. “In the overhead compartment now, you can put your carry-on with wheels which usually goes in the back.

“It just overall is a much more comfortable aircraft,” Mulet said.

The Brazilian-made Embraer has become one of the most valued jetliners around these days. It is reliable, safe, maintenance costs are relatively low, and the plane is very fuel-efficient.

The seating arrangement for the bigger E-175 has four seats across the economy section instead of three. In first-class, the seats are larger and number three across.

The bigger E-175s will fly to Houston and back from Valley International Airport twice a day.