Chicago O’Hare Airport

More Holiday Fun from Airports & Airlines

It is so encouraging to see airlines and airports having fun celebrating the holiday season this year. Here is another batch of actions and activities we spotted.

SFO Holiday Giveaway

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and the award-winning Grand Hyatt at SFO are hosting a holiday giveaway contest. Enter by December 21 for a chance to win the Grand Prize: a night at the hotel and a cool SFO Travel Bag.

First Prize is up to $200 worth of parking in the airport garage + an SFO travel bag. And five additional winners will get BART tickets and swag and an SFO Bag.

Vote for the Best Holiday Wreath at O’Hare Airport

Concessionaires at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport have created themed wreaths for the holidays. Now the airport is inviting the public to vote for their favorites in the Wreath Decorating Contest through December 25.

We like the pretzel-adorned wreath from Auntie Anne’s and the popcorn canister encrusted wreath from Nuts on Clark. But we must admit to being partial to the shoe happy wreath with the boot-wearing elf made by the airport’s Shoe Hospital.

And Look: a Southwest Airlines-branded Zamboni

Southwest Airlines is the sponsor of the Downtown Denver Rink, where ice-skating is complimentary through the season if you bring your own skates. Skate rentals are available ($9/adults & $7/kids), but earlier this week, during Colorado Gives Day, Southwest Airlines picked up all the skate rental fees and handed out holiday treats and surprises.

Our favorite part? Just the fact that there’s a Southwest Airlines-branded Zamboni!

“Witch” airports are decked out for Halloween?

witch on motorcycle - Halloween

Halloween is coming up soon and airports are getting ready to celebrate – whether we’re in the terminals or not.

We’ll keep adding to this list, so please send us any airport Halloween decorations you spot.

“Red Skeleton” returns to the Wichita Airport

Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower Airport (ICT) in Kansas will be keeping us updated on the whereabouts of their friend, Red Skeleton, until the end of the month.

Last year Red really got around. He even had TSA Precheck status.

Hocus Pocus was a hit. Next?

In Nebraska, Lincoln Airport (LNK) has been having so much fun hosting drive-in movie nights – last week it was ‘Hocus Pocus’ – that they’re looking for ideas on what movie to show next.

ET, maybe?

Carved Pumpkin contest at O’Hare

In Chicago, some of the concessions at O’Hare Airport (ORD) are having a pumpkin decorating contest. Check out all 28 entries and vote for your favorite before Halloween ends.

Here are a few of our favorites

Halloween drive-in movies at Edinburgh Airport too.

As in past years, we expect some (many?) airports will share photos of their therapy dog teams in their Halloween costumes.

We can’t wait.

Airport Restaurant Week at O’Hare & Midway Airports

The 17-day Chicago Restaurant Week festival is underway in the Windy City and the Chicago Department of Aviation doesn’t want air travelers to miss out.

So, through February 9, both Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) are hosting Airport Restaurant Week events to coincide with the food fest events in town.

At O’Hare, the Airport Restaurant Week offers include free in-store samplings, combo meal deals and menu specials such as the Cucumber Crush Cocktail being served at multiple venues.

O’Hare is also offering a free tote bag deal as part of Airport Restaurant Week.

The Airport Restaurant Week deals at Midway Airport include a free lunch tote (with purchase) as well as free tastings and special menu and beverage pairings.

You can partake of these Airport Restaurant Week offers if you’re traveling through O’Hare or Midway Airport between now and February 9.

O’Hare Airport cook-off crowns 2019 winner

On Tuesday morning Terminal 2 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport began to smell.

But in a good way.

The source of the smell: aromas from the fifth annual Channel Your Inner Chef  culinary competition hosted by airport restaurateur HMSHost and the Chicago Department of Aviation. 

During the 30-minute in-terminal cook-off four finalists from across the country created an original recipe using any of the ingredients available to them from a shared pantry revealed at the start of the event.

At least one of the ingredients had to be something picked that day from O’Hare’s hydroponic Urban Garden.

The contest took place in front of an audience of invited guests and travelers on their way to or from their flights.

Each contestant had a cooking station to work at that included a knife tied to the table, a reminder that the event was taking place on the secure side of the terminal.

I was in the audience for this year’s competition and was pleased to see winners from past years (all women) paired up as mentors to this year’s contestant chefs and on stage to help out during the first few minutes of the contest.

Then each finalist went to work on their own, whipping up dishes that included a pasta, a unique take on shrimp and grits and a Brie Schnitzel.

A panel of local judges evaluated the contestants on their recipe, presentation, showmanship and, of course, the taste of their dish and crowned Greeley, Colorado resident DeAndre Smith as the winner.

His winning dish: a pan-seared chicken breast with a brown sugar glaze accompanied by pickled rainbow carrots with Fresno peppers, fresh lemongrass, ginger and rice wine vinegar, along with a yam purée with cumin and almonds and flash fried kale.

“I thought about what my dish would be before I came to the contest and was just hoping the ingredients I needed would be here,” Smith told me, “I had to make a few adjustments, but it worked out.”

Smith’s prize is roundtrip airfare for two, as well as a VIP experience for two to the James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago.

Even better: Smith’s dish will soon be featured on the menu of an HMSHost-operated restaurant at O’Hare.

Celebrate International Beer Day – at the airport

You don’t need a holiday to have a reason to order a beer the airport.

Heading out on a trip is usually reason enough.

But International Beer Day – celebrated each year on the first Friday in August – is underway today, so this would be a great day to check out the beers on tap in airport brewpubs across the United States.

There are  way too many to list,  but a few places to check out include Leinenkugel’s Leinie Pub at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport, which has self-service taps. Cask & Larder at Orlando International Airport, Flying Dog Tap House at Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Goose Island Bar at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Stone Arch at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and some of the others I list in this column about the history of airport brewpubs I wrote a while back for my ‘At the Airport’ column on USA Today.

There are oodles of others – so please add your faves in the comments section below and I’ll start making a list.

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