At ORD & MDW: Military Appreciation


Throughout May, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airport will be hosting planned events, programs and special discounts for military personnel as part of Military Appreciation Month.

A full calendar of events for each airport is posted here, but highlights include discounts of up to 20 percent at many restaurants and shops at both ORD and Midway. 

(At O’Hare, the Terminal Getaway Spa will be offering military personnel 50 percent off all chair massages at their kiosk i the H/K corridor. )

Each Tuesday in May is USO Donation Day at both airports and passengers (and airport employees) are invited to visit the USO Centers to donate food items (i.e. chips, water and candy), DVDs, video games, eyeglass wipes, hand sanitizer and other personal care items for use by military personnel and their families traveling through Chicago’s airports. The USO centers are in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 at O’Hare and in Concourse B. The Midway USO Center is on Concourse C.

On Thursdays, there will be a large board set up where passengers can write thank-you messages to those serving in the military  The board will be in O’Hare Terminal 1 on May 7, at Midway on May 14 and in O’Hare Terminal 3 on May 28. The boards will be displayed at the airports’ USO centers in June.

And each Friday, there will be music events, including marching bands, jazz ensembles and blues bands at both airports.

Travel Tidbits from IAD, ORD and Midway Airports


Indian Classical and Bollywood dance performances from the ARPAN Dance Academy at Dulles Int’l Airport on May 17

Dulles International Airport is marking Asian-Pacific Heritage Month with a series of musical performances and educational events, including girl groups from South Korea, traditional Japanese Taiko drums; Gangnam Style dancing and other traditional Filipino, Afghan and Indian performances.

The full schedule is listed here.

May is also Military Appreciation Month at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports.

The airports, the United Service Organization (USO) and airport concessionaires are sponsoring events and programs for passengers and special discounts for military personnel and their families.

On Tuesdays donation bins will be set up at USO centers at both airports to accept food items, phone calling cards, video games and personal care items for use by military personnel and their families traveling through Chicago’s airports. There will also be information tables set up where passengers can fill out “Thank A Hero” note cards for those serving in the military. And there will be live entertainment provided by high school drill teams, blues and jazz bands and samba dancers at both airports on Fridays, May 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Tidbits for travelers

If you’re one of those people who heads straight to the gate once you’re at the airport, then the B4 YOU BOARD smartphone app could come in handy.

The app is free and offers the option of having a meal delivered to you right at the gate. You can also use the app to order something ahead of time and pick it up once you’re at the airport.

The service has already been rolled out at JFK and Minneapolis-St. Paul International airports and, just in time for the holiday travel season, is available at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport where, so far, the Tuscany Café and Chili’s Too! In Terminal 1, Blackhawks Restaurant & Bar in Terminal 2 and Wolfgang Puck Café and Chili’s Too!, in Terminal 3, are participating.

During the busy Thanksgiving travel days, Los Angeles International Airport(LAX) is hoping to create a N.I.C.E. experience and “neutralize irritations customers experience. ” Instead of handing out parking citations or warnings, the officers will hand out information with alternative parking options and coupons for a free cup of coffee.

And, at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), there’s a turkey-themed Twitter and Foursquare contest scheduled for November 21-23. @flySFO will tweet pictures of Pardon the turkey at different locations at the airport and all you have to do is guess where he is. Prizes include an iPad and other goodies. Find more details here.

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

Tidbits for travelers: seat fees, bag check refunds & fast rail service to ORD.

Good news, bad news for air travelers today.

In the good file:

IND suitcase art

If you book a 2-night weekend stay (Fri/Sat/Sun) at a IHG hotel (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, , Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and others), and check a bag on your flight there, you can get a rebate for up to $50 of your bag check fees. There are restrictions of course – you need to pay with a Visa, stay between Sept 1 and Dec 30th,  and accept your refund in the form of an IHG Visa Prepaid Card – but it’s still a good offer.

Kimpton hotels have had a similar offer for a while. It’s We’ve got your bag program promises a $25 room credit if you show a receipt for a checked bag.

Also: Chicago’s mayor announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Committee to study whether or not express train service between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago is a good idea.

Do they really need to study this? We say: just do it!  A lot of travelers would happily pay a premium over the current fare on the Blue Line to make it downtown in a hurry.

orange airplane seat

In the bad file: Joining the pack of other carriers, such as United, that will let you buy seats with extra legroom, American Airlines has announced a new fee today for what it calls “Express Seats:” the roomier seats in the first few rows of the coach cabin.

Pricing will be based on distance and range from $19 (i.e. St. Louis to Chicago) to $39 (Chicago to Honolulu) and the seats will be up for sale 50 minutes to 24 hours before a flight.  Buying one of those seats also allows you to board with Group 1.  Here’s their spin.