O’Hare Airport

Hungry herd on duty at Chicago O’Hare

Llama on duty at ORD - 2013

 

They’re back. They’re hungry. And they’re not picky eaters.

A herd of 37 goats, sheep, llamas and burros have been hired by Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to munch on poison ivy, noxious weeds and other unwanted vegetation along creeks, streams and roadway right-of-ways on airport property.

Part of the Chicago Department of Aviation’s (CDA) Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative for O’Hare, the critters are on loan from Settlers Pond, an animal rescue facility in Beecher, Ill.

A herd of about 25 animals was on duty last year from July through November eating unwanted vegetation. That helped the airport cut back on the use of emission-producing equipment and limited the use of toxic herbicides on some of the airport’s 8,000 acres of land.

This year, up to 120 acres of O’Hare land difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment has been set aside for all-they-can-eat grazing. The herd, which spends evenings in transport vans nearby the grazing land, will stay at O’Hare until the weather gets too cold for the animals to access vegetation.

As before, all the sites where the animals graze are in areas far away from or separated from the airfield by security fencing.

Which means we shouldn’t be hearing any stories about take-offs or landings being delayed at O’Hare by a jackass running around on the runway.

At least two other U.S. airports have had animals help out with landscape management.

San Francisco International Airport has a herd of goats come by each year to assist with weed control and in 2012 a herd of 91 sheep and 10 goats participated help control vegetation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

(My story about weed-eating at O’Hare International Airport first appeared on USA TODAY)

O’Hare Airport Terminal 5 gets a makeover

This week Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is celebrating the completion of a two-year, much-needed, $26 million project to renovate and update International Terminal 5.

Here’s a splashy video about the terminal put together by Westfield, the terminal developer, followed by a story I put together about the completion of the terminal renovations that posted first on the Runway Girl Network.

ORD Food Court Before T5

Before the terminal upgrade began, just about all of the dining and retail options in T5 were located pre-security, which made it hard for travelers to feel at ease taking advantage of any dining and shopping option before passing through the security checkpoint and heading for their flights.

Now it’s a completely different story:

ORD Goddess and Grocer

The Goddess & Grocer, a locally-owned and operated gourmet deli working in partnership with Metropolis Coffee Company, a local, small batch coffee roaster, is now the main pre-security dining venue. On the menu: deli sandwiches, ready-made salads, handmade chocolates, cookies and other desserts that can be eaten there – with friends or family members who have come to the airport to see you off – or packed to take with you on the plane.

ORD NEW TSA CHECKPOINT

There a completely reconfigured TSA checkpoint that’s “more streamlined and easier to get through,” said Karen Pride of the Chicago Department of Aviation and, just beyond that, a 10,000 square-foot, pass-through duty free shop like those that now seem standard in many European airports.

Inside the terminal, travelers will find a wide variety of new restaurants and retail shops, including many Chicago brands. There are also redesigned public spaces and many welcome new amenities.

ORDXpresSpa

The airport’s branch of XpresSpa is here offering massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and hot shaves. A wide variety of bath and body care products are also available for purchase and include Chicago-based Abbey Brown Soaps and the Beelove line of lip balm and skin care products, which are made with some of the honey from an apiary on airport property.

The restrooms pre and post-security have all been updated and there is now plenty of lounge-style seating throughout the common areas equipped with power outlets and USB ports for charging devices.

Expanded dining options include a food court, or “dining lounge,” with three quick-serve outlets: Wow Bao (Asian dishes with modern flair), Urban Olive (fresh salads) and R.J. Grunts Burger & Fries, and, for sit-down meals, a branch of the popular downtown Chicago restaurant, Hub 51.

Wow Bao - a new Asian cuisine option in Terminal 5 at ORD_photo Harriet Baskas

Other food outlets in the terminal now include Big Bowl (potstickers, noodle and stir fry dishes, salads, etc. with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients), Tocco (a wine bar and Italian eatery), a branch of Tortas Frontera by Chicago chef Rick Bayless (popular elsewhere in the airport) and Kofe powered by Intelligentsia (gourmet coffee and tea, light fare).

Shoppers will be able to browse the offerings from Salvatore Ferragamo, Michael Kors, Vosge Haut-Chocolate, I Love Chicago, Swatch, Emporio Armani, Hudson (newsstand and travel essentials) and others.

The new shops, retail outlets and fresh amenities at Chicago’s International Terminal 5 have been gently rolling out during the past two years. But now that the final pieces are in place, there does seem like there’s plenty to celebrate and enjoy.

(My story about O’Hare Airport’s Terminal 5 upgrade first appeared on the Runway Girl Network.)

St. Patrick’s Day at O’Hare & Midway Airports

stpatricks-victorian

 

Chicago’s O’Hareand Midway  airports will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Celtic dance and musical entertainment, as well as “Shamrock Specials” at airport restaurants and shops.

Today  – (Thursday, March 13) from 5 to 6 p.m., dancers from the Sheila Tully Academy of Irish Dance will perform at O’Hare International Terminal 5, post security and just outside of the new duty free store.  At Midway, Catherine O’Connell will sing with musicians at Reilly’s Daughter, located in the Midway Boulevard Food Court at 5 p.m.

 OHARE CELTIC

The fun continues Friday, March 14 with performances at O’Hare and Midway by the  Trinity Irish Dancers.

Here’s the schedule for O’Hare:

  • Terminal 1: 6:10 to 7 p.m. Lower level baggage claim near Door 1E

  • Terminal 2 : 5 to 6 p.m. Post security next to Wicker Park Seafood and Sushi

  • Terminal 3: 5 to 6 p.m. Post security near the entrance to the L Concourse
  • Terminal 5: 6:10 to 7 p.m. in the lower level meeter/greeter area across from the Information Booth

At Midway, the dancers will perform from 4 to 6 p.m. post security in Concourse A near the Battle of Midway exhibit.

And on St. Patrick’s Day, Monday, March 17, concessions throughout both airports will offer “Shamrock Specials” that will include green beer, green kettle corn and discounts on green merchandise and Celtic jewelry.

 

Spas at O’Hare & free ice-cream for Virgin America passengers

Good news for anyone who finds themselves stuck at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

There are now full-service spas in the domestic terminals.

ORD SPA

Terminal Getaway Spa, which already has a branch at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), has opened two branches at O’Hare: one in Terminal 1 near Gate B14 and another in Terminal 3 near Gate H1.

A third branch is scheduled to open this spring in the H/K Corridor, near the American Airlines Admirals Club.

Services on the menu include manicures, pedicures, massages and more.

And, if you’re flying on Virgin America out of San Francisco between March 4- June 30, you can get free ice-cream – on the ground.

VIrgin America Ice cream

As part of a roll-out for the new menu for first-class passengers on the airline’s long-haul business flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles to Newark, New York, Boston and Washington National Airport, the airline is offering travelers in any cabin a free scoop of Humphry Slocombe’s ice cream.

The San Francisco-based ice-cream maker has whipped up three ice cream flavors for Virgin American – Butter By Moodlight, Red-Hot Banana and Coconut Blond Ambition – and Virgin America is inviting the public to vote via Twitter on which should be the airline’s signature flavor served on board.

Free tastings took place at San Francisco International Airport on Feb. 20, but from March 4 – June 30, anyone showing a Virgin America boarding pass at either of the Humphry Slocombe’s two San Francisco locations (The Ferry Building & Mission) can get a free scoop.

In addition to the new first-class menu, Virgin America is also updating its First Class service settings with hot towel and linen table service available on all flights.

O’Hare’s herd of weed eaters gets the winter off

Llama at ORD 2

Remember the herd of goats, sheep, llamas and burros that the Chicago Department of Aviation hired to eat weeds on about 120 acres of land at O’Hare Airport?

From August through mid-November, 37 animals from a no-kill shelter specializing in the rescue of farm and exotic animals munched their way through scrub vegetation on four sites that included hilly areas along creeks or streams and roadway right-of ways that were hard to get to with traditional landscaping equipment.

Now that winter is here, the animals are off-duty. But they’ll back in the spring to dine on a new crop of pesky weeds.

SHEEP AT ORD