Hanging over in O’Hare

20 Sep ohare-tunnel

ohare-tunnel

So I left you in Chicago! I was saying that I usually cringe at the thought of connecting through The Chicago O’Hare Airport and that last week (well 2 weeks ago at this point) was no different.  After I encountered a standby snafu and had to make that Plan B I told you about last week which took me to Chicago for about 6 hours before I bought an American Airlines ticket through Miami to Grand Cayman… it was a long day!  And it was a Saturday, and I went to a party the night before so needless to say I wasn’t just layin’ over in O’Hare, I was hangin’ over in O’Hare!!  Don’t judge me.

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Having only ever flown United Airlines in and out of Chicago I have not really left the B and C concourses and only sometimes venturing to the F concourse for a United express flight.  When I had to actually look at an airport map to know where I was going I realized how HUGE the O’Hare airport really is! The American gates are on the G, H, K, and L terminals…who knew?!  That’s a lot of space!  And once I started making my way over to my gate in K I got to see a lot of stuff along the way.  I want to give O’Hare, and Chicago really big props on the amount of things I saw in the airport that day.

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As I journeyed through the seemingly endless sunny corridors I found many bits of art on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.  Some was really cool and some was really… interesting.  But then it got even better!  As I went past the line I’ve never crossed before – at the intersection of Terminal F – the airport got even cooler! I found a wall lined with photographs at the microscopic level and they were beautiful!   I had to stop and see what they were.  After reading the info plaque I saw that it was an initiative by the Institute of Genomic Biology to bring awareness about their most recent project.

Then I came into an atrium area that was circular and had a staircase going up to a second level.  In between the levels was a beautiful mosaic called “On the Wings of Water” .   This mosaic is made up of 35,000 pieces of Venetian glass and tiles to show how air travel and water link cultures around the world.  It was completed with help from the students in the After School Matters program.

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I went up the stairs to check it out and I found a complete hydroponic urban garden!!  Say Whaaaaat??  It was not only beautiful but responsible too because some of the restaurants that inhabit the O’Hare airport create dishes using the herbs and vegetables that are grown in this garden!  I also noticed a lot of flight crew members enjoying their coffee and snacks between flights up there on the comfy looking green lounge chairs.  They must have been savvy to this little airport gem for some time!

I have to say, I’m really proud of you, O’Hare!!  And next time you’ve got some time in that airport between flights, take a hike!!  And go check out all the hidden treasures that the Chicago O’Hare International Airport has to offer!!  Cuz it’s a LOT!!

Oh, wow! You fly for free??!!

11 Sep

Usually I cringe at the thought of connecting through the Chicago O’Hare Airport and last weekend was no different….

After trying to fly standby from Denver to Grand Cayman to no avail I had to make a plan B, and fast.  Some of you know that I fly standby, which is great and amazing and fantastic when it works and the pits when it doesn’t!

Here’s the deal:  Omg, you can really fly where ever you want for close to nothing, if not actually nothing?!

The short answer is YES, and then it’s followed by a very big BUT!

ONLY IF: there are available seats, and no other flight delays where they re-route paying customers onto your flight that just 5 minutes ago was indicating there were 50 available seats, and if the weather cooperates and doesn’t throw a category 5 10502464_10152605617973987_1404902129_nlightening storm at you, and if you don’t get trumped by “revenue standby” people who just wanna get home sooner – I get it, but still!  And sometimes when they’ve put everyone on the plane and they have been calling the Smith Family of 4 on the PA for the last 10 minutes you get your hopes up, slightly… and then a little more with each airport page that goes out.  And with the modern TV screens at the gates you know that you are number 2 on the standby list and with simple math if Smith doesn’t show up you are ON!!  You kinda hold your breath a little….

This family looks way too happy and doesn't have enough bags, but you get the point!

This family looks way too happy and doesn’t have enough bags, but you get the point!

But… wait…. What’s that?  In the distance, down the terminal some commotion catches your eye.  No!  Please no!  It’s all 4 of the Smiths running toward you in a tornado of clapping shoes and bouncing bags and they are yelling “wait, we are here!”

Crap.

And what’s still worse than that is when your name gets called, and you get your seat assignment, and you get onboard, and you put away your bags, and you sit down, and you put on your seatbelt, and you breathe…. but only a little because the aircraft door is still open.  And then this happens…

13-things-flight-attendant-01-overhead-bin-luggage-slThe gate agent comes on the PA in the plane and calls your name to collect your bags and please come to the front.  The guy they were calling 45 times in the airport who never showed up…showed up.  And you’re back in the gate area.

This is when the Plan B’s come out and your critical thinking skills need to be on point!

For the record, this is not me… I would never wear something like this to the airport!

Step 1. Don’t take it personally.  After 26 years of flying standby, sometimes I still do.  I am grown; and I admit I have sought out the corner of a gate area behind the podium to, quietly, and usually with sunglasses on, drop my head let out a few tears of frustration before collecting myself for the dreaded stage 2 of pass travel.

Step 2.  Brain must think of all other possible options to get you to your destination.  This consists 485355453_17b348244aof your knowledge of basic geography, your computer skills, and your time management.  Without these you’re screwed.  You need to look at the departure monitors first to see if there are other flights.  If there are no direct ones, you’ve got to think about what location will get you closest and then find out if there is a connecting flight.  Once you have a chosen route you need to log into the employee website to get an idea of the loads to see if you even have a chance in hell to make it happen.  If all options fail, move to step 3… and hopefully avoid step 4.

Step 3.  Buy a ticket on another airline.  Yep, then I’m right back there with everyone else in the world who has to pay for airline tickets.  But with a lot more stress involved.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice luxury to know that I have a seat on a flight and no one can kick me out of it.  It’s just the time, effort, and anxiety that precedes the actual purchase of said flight that gets me.

Bundle up, find the darkest corner you can, and make the best of it.  It's gonna suck.

Bundle up, find the darkest corner you can, and make the best of it. It’s gonna suck.

Step 4.  Sleep in the airport.  This is a LAST resort!  This happens when the day got away from you, you stood by for all flights you could, and now there are no more flights leaving because it got too late, an there’s weather so all hotel rooms are booked up too.  *Travel Tip* always travel with something you can use as a blanket!!  Airports are really cold at night with no people in them!

So I skipped step 4 and found myself in Chicago last weekend.

To be continued…

Em

British Airways introduces a mood blanket

4 Jul

Originally posted on Heather Poole:

airlineWhen I read about British Airways’ new high-tech blanket, called “the “happiness blanket,” my first thought was that it had to be a joke. A blanket that analyzes the “meditative state” of premium cabin fliers? What a waste of money.

But it’s not a joke. According to Businessweek, “The wool ‘happiness blanket’ is embedded with tiny fiber optic LEDs that change color based on brainwaves transmitted via Bluetooth from a band worn on a passenger’s head.”

I don’t need fiber optics to tell you when a passenger is stressed and anxious, or how to make them more relaxed.Try two more inches of legroom, and a seat that fully reclines. And a neighbor who isn’t chatting about the shade of their blanket.

Plus, if you’re sleeping, don’t you think you’re pretty relaxed? Is there anyone who really wants everyone knowing that much about them? Having your mood transmitted…

View original 104 more words

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