Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Atlanta International Airport shows off lighted canopy

Hatsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently tested the lighting on the first three sections of its North Terminal canopy.

ATL Airport - green canopy

This canopy is one of a half dozen major construction projects under way at ATL as part of a major 20-year long development program, dubbed ATL Next, that the airport says is designed to boost capacity, renew and replace existing facilities and “enhance ATL’s aesthetic appeal.”

There will be canopies in front of the North and South passenger terminals and the full length of each canopy will be covered in a plastic material that will be able to be illuminated in different colors and patterns by thousands of embedded LED lights.

Work on the ATL’s North Canopy should be done by the fall. The South canopy is expected to be completed in Fall 2019.

The airport did a test run on the lights on part of the North Canopy last week. Neutral white light is expected to be the default color but on special occasions the canopies will be illuminated to mark specific events such as red, white and blue to honor Independence Day.

Other options already under consideration: red and black to celebrate a Falcons Super Bowl victory, or green to mark Earth Day.

Of course, ATL isn’t the first to get a cool lighted architectural feature.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has the “Sky’s the Limit” underground neon walkway.


Detroit Metropolitan Airport has a lighted tunnel.


And Los Angeles International Airport has lighted pylons at it entrance that are often lit up in different color patterns to honor a holiday or special event.

What other cool lighted architectural features at airports should we add to this list?

Makeover for Terminal 5 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

Will a ribbon cutting and this snazzy video, on Tuesday the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and Westfield Concession Management unveiled plans for significant renovations at Terminal 5 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Coming in Fall 2013: a totally new look, 15 new dining and retail brands and a variety of other amenities.

It’s the first make-over since the terminal was constructed, in 1993. Since then, as we all know, air travel has changed significantly and so this project will move the dining at retail options from pre to post-security locations.

What’s in store?

A new food court with performance kitchens, more efficient TSA checkpoints, a European-style pass-through duty-free store and dining options that will include Tortas Frontera by local award-winning chef Rick Bayless, Natural Break (salads, sandwiches and juices), Tocco (pizza/pasta), Hub 51 (sushi, gourmet tacos, burgers), Urban Olive (modern Mediterranean cuisine), Big Bowl (Chinese/Thai) and Wow Bao (hot Asian buns).

On the retail side: Hudson News outlets, Swatch brings, Chicago-based Vosges Haut Chocolat (yum!), I Love Chicago (art/accessories) and XpresSpa, which will offer massage services and salon treatments such as manicures, pedicures and facials.

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….