Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Making the best of America’s busiest airports

I had great fun putting together a slide show for Bing Travel about how to make the best of some of America’s Busiest Airports. Here’s a rundown of some of the tips I shared. More tomorrow..

No. 1: Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta

Serving more than 90 million passengers annually, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport holds tight to the title of world’s busiest passenger airport. ATL also offers travelers an extensive art collection, a piano bar and dining options that include the upscale One Flew South, serving sushi and global fare made with local ingredients.

Defeat the delay: For $30, you can spend an hour napping, working, watching TV or just chilling out in a private room at Minute Suites, by gate B15.

No. 2: Chicago O’Hare

Winter storms packing snow, sleet and ice often ground holiday travelers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, second on the list. Wait out delays watching kids play pilot at the Kids on the Fly play area, grab a snack at Garrett Popcorn or take in the greenery at O’Hare’s vertical, aeroponic garden in Terminal 3.

Defeat the delay: The Hilton Chicago O’Hare, accessible from ORD Terminal 2, offers $15 day passes to its full-service health club, which has showers, a steam room, a sauna and a pool.

No. 3: Los Angeles International

Nine terminals, some with limited amenities, make Los Angeles International Airport a tough place to wait out a delay. If you’ve exhausted the options in your terminal at LAX, head over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, where a pre-security food court offers a branch of Pink’s, the iconic Hollywood hot-dog shop, and the reLAX pay-to-use day lounge.

Defeat the delay: The LAX Theme Building, a separate building in the center of the airport, is home to an observation deck, open weekends only, and the space-age Encounter Restaurant, which serves lunch, dinner, cocktails and great views daily.

No. 4: Dallas/Fort Worth International
You betcha it snows in Texas, but Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is prepared for delayed travelers, with 60 free power poles, an impressive public art collection (Terminal D) and free, living-room-style theaters (Terminal D, mezzanines) with large-screen TVs and leather chairs with individual headphone controls.

Defeat the delay: Taste Texas wines and more at the airport branch of nearby La Bodega Winery (Terminal D).

More tomorrow…

Bee farming at O’Hare Airport

Bee farmers seem to be busy as their bees these days, setting up beehives on hotel rooftops and, now, at some U.S. airports.

A growing number of Fairmont Hotels in North America, including the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto and the Fairmont Vancouver Airport have their own hives and honey-producing bees.

Close to a dozen airports in Germany host bee hives and monitor them for signs of pollution caused by air traffic.

Now comes word that Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is hosting 33 hives belonging to Sweet Beginnings, a non-profit group that helps ex-offenders and others find permanent jobs.

The group hopes to set up hives next at Midway Airport and eventually sell the airport-made honey at shops inside the airport.


Airplane spotting from the ORD Red Carpet Club

It’s been a while since I gave up my membership in the United Red Carpet Club. But very frequent traveler Joel Horn insists the price of admission is worth it if only because there are sights like this to be seen out the window of the Red Carpet Club room on Concourse C at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

What do you think? I do have a birthday coming up….

Earth Day at your airport

Traveling on a fuel-gobbling airplane on Earth Day?

Don’t worry – you can still be green on the ground at many airports.


Boston Logan International Airport is reminding travelers that is has added GobiCab, a fuel-saving, taxi cab ride-sharing app (for iPhones) to the eco-friendly transportation options listed on its website.


BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is celebrating by christening eight new electric car charging stations.

Wichita Mid-Continent and several other airports will be holding earth day fairs at their terminals

San Francisco International Airport is having a little Twitter contest.

If you tweet to @flySFO between 8 a.m. PDT and 8 p.m. PDT with ideas on how to reduce your environmental foot print when traveling, you may win one of the recycled SFO banner luggage tags they’re giving away.

And Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport kicks off its First Annual Garden Show on Friday, with displays from four area organizations: Openlands, Trees That Feed Foundation, The Conservation Foundation and the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Look for the green beyond the security checkpoints in Terminal 3, between concourses H/K and L through May 13.


(Flower photos courtesy Robin Carlson, Chicago Botanic Garden)

Tidbits for travelers at ORD, AUS and on the train

A few fresh amenities you can enjoy at some airports – and on some Amtrak trains.

At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, celebrity chef Rick Bayless has opened Tortas Frontera, in Terminal 1.  The menu includes Mexican sandwiches, tortas, a guacamole bar and a wide variety of other tasty dishes.  (Another branch will open soon in Terminal 3).

Today Amtrak announced that there’s now free Wi-Fi on the Cascades route between Eugene, OR and Vancouver, B.C.

And with the opening of a branch of the Saxon Pub (an iconic music venue in Austin), there are now five venues that offer live music at Austin Bergstrom International Airport for a total of 13 shows each week.

Saxon Pub ribbon cutting ceremony, photo by Carlton Wade