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Stuck at the Airport: The Very Best of Services, Dining, and Unexpected Attractions for Travelers

Stuck at the Airport: The Very Best of Services, Dining, and Unexpected Attractions for Travelers

by Harriet Baskas
Who hasn't been stuck at the airport and ended up cranky, stiff, and full of really bad food? No more! With this one-of-a-kind guide to the best services, dining, shopping, and unexpected attractions at major U.S., Canadian, and European airports, even travel delays can be transformed into time well spent. Why not relax in the airport's meditation room in Albany, New


Who hasn't been stuck at the airport and ended up cranky, stiff, and full of really bad food? No more! With this one-of-a-kind guide to the best services, dining, shopping, and unexpected attractions at major U.S., Canadian, and European airports, even travel delays can be transformed into time well spent. Why not relax in the airport's meditation room in Albany, New York; tour the airport microbrewery in Orlando, Florida; or pet the pups at the landscaped dog walk at the airport in Austin, Texas? Traveling with kids? This guide will lead you to places where kids can run, have fun, and nap. On business? You'll find quiet spots to make phone calls and get work done. Just trying to get there from here? You'll learn where you can have a manicure or go for a run, rent a locker or a DVD, view an art exhibit or smoke indoors. You're stuck at the airport -- so live a little!

Editorial Reviews

With flight delays and cancellations on the rise, the savvy traveler needs to know how to pass the time at the airport. With a copy of Stuck at the Airport in your suitcase, you'll know exactly what to do. The major U.S., Canadian, and European airports are covered, with comprehensive lists of activities that will help you pass the time while waiting for your flight. You'll learn where to get a delicious meal or snack, deposit your kids for supervised play, or even have a relaxing massage.
Library Journal
Baskas, an award-winning radio producer and writer for National Public Radio and a columnist for Expedia.com ("Stuck at the Airport" is a regular feature on the Expedia.com web site), has often experienced the frustration of whiling away the hours when stuck at an airport. Where can you buy a newspaper, have a shower, or store your luggage? Which food concessions offer the healthiest (or most sinful) foods? In this practical guide, Baskas highlights the special features of some 46 major national and eight international airports including Los Angeles, Albany, JFK, Toronto, and Heathrow that every annoyed traveler should know so that he or she can best manage the unwanted delays. Arranging the airports alphabetically by city, Baskas recommends what to do with kids; how to handle business emergencies; where to eat, get a massage, or shop; and, most importantly, how to get to the nearest major city. She does not, however, include airport floor plans, nor does she provide the reader with a list of the airports' web sites, which usually include such plans. For public libraries with active travel collections. Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
2001 Edition
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chicago O'Hare
International Airport

Chicago, Illinois
Airport Code: ORD
Web Address: http://www.ohare.com

This bustling air traffic hub, which just recently lost the title of "World's Busiest Airport" to Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, was originally called Orchard Place and was home to a giant wooden-roofed factory producing Douglas C-54 troop and cargo carriers for use during World War II. Renamed O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in 1949 to honor Lieutenant Commander Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare, a Chicagoan killed during the war, the facility remains true to its roots by retaining "ORD" as its official abbreviation.

Get Oriented

Today, O'Hare has four terminals: Terminals 1, 2, and 3 primarily serve domestic flights, and Terminal 5 hosts international flights. United and United Express use Terminals 1 and 2; Terminal 2 also serves Northwest, Continental, Trans World Airlines, America West, and several other carriers. Terminal 3 serves American Airlines, Delta, and others. The walk between each of the domestic terminals can take up to 15 minutes, and a ride from the domestic terminals to Terminal 5 on the airport transit system can take 5-10 minutes.

To get your bearings, ask for a terminal map at one of the four information booths located on the lower level of each domestic terminal and on the upper level of the international terminal. The booths are staffed by people who, collectively, speak 26 languages.

Take Care of Yourself


Dining options in Concourse C in Terminal 1 (the United terminal) include the Chicago-based Berghoff's, Panda Express, and the sushi kiosk at Gate 20. In Concourse B, look for Chili's (Gate 14) and the Wolfgang Puck Café at Gate 6. In the main hall of Terminal 2, your choices include Edy's Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Juice Works, and the Fresh Departure Deli. Over in the Terminal 3 rotunda you'll find the Chicago Tap Room, Great American Bagel, Panda Express, Momo's Pizza, and Butch's Grill.

Best Healthful Nosh

Juice Works in Terminal 1 (Gate B15), in the main hall of Terminal 2, and in the Terminal 3 rotunda has healthy sandwiches, juices, and yogurt. There's also a sushi kiosk at Gate C20 in Terminal 1.

Best Sinful Snack

Chocolate from Fanny May Candies in Terminals 1, 2, and 3.

Relax and Refresh

O'Hare is usually too crowded to offer many genuinely quiet spots, but there's a small parklike area in the connecting corridor between Terminals 1 and 2 that affords a good view of the airfield. You'll also find comfortable seating near the Children's Museum just past the security checkpoint in Terminal 2, and at the exhibit area sponsored by the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications at the end of Terminal 2, toward the rotunda.

For a peaceful spot, try the chapel in Terminal 2, on the second-floor mezzanine above the TWA counter. Or hoof it on over to the lobby area of the O'Hare Hilton, which is just a 5-minute walk from the terminals via an underground pedestrian tunnel. If you want to check in, the Hilton offers a day rate on a space-available basis (773-686-8000).

The folks at Back Rub Hub in Terminal 3 specialize in relaxing massages, and the unisex Francolynn Hair Salon on the lower level of the O'Hare Hilton offers haircuts and manicures.

If walking the terminal concourses isn't enough exercise, you can purchase a $10 day pass for the health club located on the lower level of the Hilton, with its coed sauna/steam room, swimming pool, whirlpool, and weight rooms. It's open Monday-Thursday, 5 AM-11 PM; Friday until 10 PM; and 6 AM-10 PM on weekends (773-601-1722).

If you overdo it, stop by the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center's clinic in Terminal 2, just past the security checkpoint, open daily 6 am-10 pm. And if you really overdo it, you'll be glad to know that O'Hare was the first airport to provide publicly accessible defibrillators throughout the terminals.

Take Care of Business

The Skybird Business Center, upstairs in the rotunda in Terminal 2, contains desks, computer hookups, and facilities for mailing packages, sending faxes, and holding meetings. The airport is also home to a pair of business centers (in Terminal 1, across from Gate B6 and in the underground walkway between Concourses B and C) where you can rent a fully equipped mini-office on a per-minute basis.

Explore the Airport


Browse the bookstores in Terminals 1, 2, and 3 and the Beanie Baby store (Ty-riffic) in Terminal 3. Terminal 1's Concourse B houses Michael Jordan Golf, which purveys shirts, chocolate golf balls, and other golfing paraphernalia, and a branch of the Field Museum Store. Chicago Sports Section located in Terminals 1 (Gates B6 and C9), 2 (Gate F1), and 3 (Gate L4) offers team trinkets, and Brookstone has shops at Gate C11 and in the main hall of Terminal 3.


Students from Gallery 37, an award-winning Chicago arts education program, created the painted benches placed throughout O'Hare's terminals, including the benches and mosaic planters near the player piano in Terminal 2. Down the hall is an exhibit of vintage radio and television sets, courtesy of the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Running along the tunnel connecting United's two concourses is Michael Hayden's "The Sky's the Limit," the world's largest neon sculpture, whose undulating lights are paired with a peppy sound track. Terminal 5 features a museum-quality collection of 43 stained-glass windows and 19 wooden sculptures by Jerzy S. Kenar, a Polish-born artist who lives in Chicago.

Wherever you are in the airport, listen up. When the sound system isn't being used to announce gate changes, lost kids, or the prohibition on smoking, it broadcasts music by some of Chicago's best-known jazz, blues, classical, folk, and rock musicians. If you hear something you like and need to know the name of a tune, you can look it up at www.airportmusic.org.

Finally, for impressive views of O'Hare's facilities, hop on the people mover. The Automated Transit System travels a total of 2.7 miles on a single trip, making stops at the domestic and international terminals and at the long-term parking facility.

Play Around

Stop by the cheery "Kids on the Fly" activity center sponsored by the Chicago Children's Museum in Terminal 2. At flight-related play stations, kids can tag and weigh baggage, load cargo, and take the controls in a simulated control tower and jet cockpit. Just make sure the "pilot" steers clear of the 10,000-piece Sears Tower made of Legos.

Also, be sure to take the kids to visit the airport's dinosaur: a four-story-high, 72-foot-long Brachiosaurus skeleton model on loan from the Field Museum. You can't miss it if you head to the upper level of Terminal 1 in Concourse B.

Go into Town

The average cab fare to downtown Chicago costs between $25 and $30. The ride can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. Shared shuttle vans make the trip for $17. For a faster and cheaper ride into town, take public transportation: the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) Blue Line train provides 24-hour service between downtown Chicago and O'Hare International Airport. Follow the lower-level pedestrian passageways inside the airport terminals to the CTA station. The fare to downtown is $1.50, and the ride takes about 45 minutes.

Other Information

Call the folks at the Customer Service Hotline (800-832-6352) if you need to know anything about Chicago O'Hare International Airport before you arrive.

Copyright © 2001 by Harriet Baskas

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