Tag Archives: air travel

Hanging Over in O’Hare

20 Sep

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 quotes-quotation-chicquero-bad-decisionsI 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.

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.  Well, let me tell you.  The O’Hare airport is more than the trippy light tunnel with the moving walkway!

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.

As I journeyed through the seemingly endless sunny corridors Imap-of-chicago-ohare-airport 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 IMG_0290before – 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.

TIMG_0295hen 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.

 

I went up the stairs to check it out and I found a complete hydroponic urban garden!!  Say Whaaaaat??O'Hare veggies  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!!

Xoxo,

Em

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Top 5 people you hope to avoid sitting next to on the plane

10 Aug

We’ve all had to sit next to someone on the plane who isn’t ideal.  You always hope for the perfect seat neighbor, but unfortunately that dream doesn’t always come true.  Here are my top 5 I hope to avoid…

Please put your seat backs and tray tables in the upright and locked position... and cross your fingers for a pleasant seat neighbor!

1. The Talker

Just when you’ve settled into your seat and are ready to tear open your new book or simply take a snooze, down plops the Talker.  All you wanna do is have some time to yourself before you get there and this robber of time is screwing it up for you.  He keeps firing off incessant, open ended questions at you like an interview.  The funny thing is that they are all the same questions that all the “Talkers” ask, “Are you headed home or do you live here?” “Are you traveling for work or pleasure?” ” What do you do?” “Do you have kids?”  To which you can only answer and then ask the obligatory same questions in return.  Once the Talker gets going on his stories you become subjected to the wallet photo album, the riveting world of scrapbooking, the novel that he is reading – when the entire time you wish you were reading yours!

Solution:

I have used the “headphone” technique -even if there is no music on- plug in before they can start talking.

The “fall asleep before they start talking” technique – this can only be used if you can sense that they are a “Talker’ before they get going.

I have actually used the “nodding off” technique – this is only to be used in extreme cases because it’s extremely rude – you literally nod off as they are talking to you.

Or the “straight to the point” techinque – simply tell the person that you don’t mean to be rude, but you’d really like to take a nap or read your book.  However, this could make it awkward for the rest of the flight.

2. The Snorer

Oh for the love of God, will you stop?!

This one isn’t as frequent as the “Talker”, but when it happens it is the most annoying thing ever!  Someone next to you or even in a seat somewhere in your area falls asleep and they are a snorer.  Now they have to be a professional because airplane air is noisy!

Solution:

The nonchalant “accidental” elbow nudge to the arm or shoulder – whichever is closest.  If they are in front of you then you kick the seat – kinda hard- and if they are behind you drop your seat back kinda fast.  The thing about sleeping people is they really don’t know what woke them up and hopefully they will change positions before they fall asleep again.

3.  The Sick Guy

This one is really a bummer because you know you are subjected to inhaling recycled air for the next few hours and this guy is beyond contagious.  Coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, the works and he’s right next to you.  Ugh!

Solution:

Don’t forget the Airborne

If possible, cover your nose and mouth with part of your clothing – or be Asian with a full on mask!

4. The Crying Baby

Holy Hell, this one speaks for itself.  We all know what it’s like to be stuck by the crying baby for hours on a plane.  I do have some sympathy for this situation because the poor thing’s ears probably hurt and poor mom or dad really can’t do anything about it.  You know they are annoyed too.

Solution: Spike the bottle with brandy…. nuff said.

5.  The Farter

Yes, I have actually experienced this.  I think why it happens is because – as previously stated – airplane air is noisy.  In a noisy environment it is very easy to unassumingly let one squeak out.  The risk the Farter runs is that it will be an SBD – and deadly they are in the thick, recycled air.

In my own experience the Farter – who happened to be sitting in front of me – would lift her head above the seats and look around after each expulsion of rancid air to see if anyone could tell.  She may have been looking around to deflect any suspicion that she was the culprit, but after a handful of times it was quite obvious.

Solution:

I’m open to suggestions for this one because, unfortunately,  the only thing I could do was make a sour face and plug my nose.

~~~~~

Next time you board your flight I truly hope you do not encounter one of these 5 offenders!!

Em

Wanna get away? How about Frankfurt for a day??

22 Jul

Have you ever had one of those “Wanna get away?” moments? Well I have, and the last time it was a strong enough urge that I acted on it…in a pretty big way!

How about Frankfurt for less than a day and then back home? Well, that’s what it took to make me feel better. I tasted new food, smiled at new people and, most importantly, I breathed new air.

OK, so I am a “stand-by” girl. The jig is up, that’s my secret. My mother taught aircraft systems for United Airlines for years and I still have travel benefits from her. YES!

So, you can imagine, it’s fairly easy for me to hop on a flight and jet off somewhere…loads permitting. Stand-by can be a complete nightmare or it can be a dream when everything goes smoothly. In this particular situation I was quite antsy to get outta town, and luckily this trip was more on the dreamy side of the spectrum.

Now, some background information on my family…

We are an aviation family and between my mother and her 9 other siblings there are 7 pilots, 3 of whom were/are captains for United. Only one of my uncles still flies the line as a captain on, and check-airman for, the Boeing 747-400. His name is Chris.

I called Chris on a Tuesday in April and left a message that went something like this, “Hey Chris, um, I was wondering if you have any trips coming up soon (he typically has one per month), and if you do, do you think I could tag along?” His response to me was, “Yep, I’m doing a check-ride on Sunday for a 23 hour turn-around to Frankfurt, meet me in Chicago!”

OK!!!

So 5 days later I was on the plane heading to O’Hare from Denver. I met up with Chris and his first officer, Roman, on the C Concourse and found that our flight was delayed an hour and a half due to an aircraft change. It always amuses me when the passengers get all disgruntled about their flight being late for those kinds of reasons. My thoughts?? The airplane was BRO-KEN, aren’t you glad they figured it out while we were still in the terminal? Broken plane = delay … get over it. I swear, people anymore just want something to complain about!

Sorry – where was I? Oh ya, Concourse C…

C Concourse O'Hare

After finally boarding and settling into my economy seat we were on our way. Now, don’t go thinking I’m stuck up because I had to mention that it was an economy seat, it’s just that typically when traveling stand-by internationally there are more First and Business Class seats available. Just sayin’.

We arrived in the morning the next day, took the crew bus to the Marriott, dropped our bags off and headed to the train station for breakfast. Appropriately, our breakfast consisted of beer and brats… a hearty German start to the day!

From the left...Roman, me and Chris having the breakfast of German champions!

After a seemingly 20 minute nap back a the room, it was actually 2 hours, I met the guys in the hotel bar called Challengers. Their slogan was, “…for a real American experience”. Well, I didn’t come to Frankfurt on my “wanna get away” whim to have a real American experience so we slugged down our beers and went to this cute little restaurant called Pielok… for a real German experience.

The first thing we experienced though was the German smell leaking out of the place. Holy shit, what IS that?? I’m sure it was some kind of warm cheese plate, but it smelled like dirty, sour laundry! I’m not sure if it went away or if our nostrils just assimilated. I’m assuming it was the latter.

Yes, it was that bad!

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Germans make some fantastic cheeses, its just that this one in particular seemed to offend our little American noses…. a lot.

Chris and I couldn't stop laughing about the pungent cheesy stench!

Unlike the smelly cheese trough, my dinner was to die for! This was comfort food at it’s best…. A burger patty – a real mouth watering burger – topped with 2 thick slices of salty, greasy bacon with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a side of roasted potatoes! Delish. I was feeling better already!

Salty, greasy, meaty German goodness!

We all took a little stroll after dinner and noticed the small differences that definitely lent the foreign feeling I was craving. What a gift. The bicycles, the people, the little shops, the small streets, the flower boxes, the trains, the housing flats, the fresh food. It was perfect for my little getaway!

I present you...Frankfurt

Once back at the hotel, I was asleep by 10 and up by 6. After a more breakfasty breakfast of coffee and danish we were on our way back to the airport with the whole crew.

Airports and airplanes are sometimes my favorite parts of traveling. I think you really get a chance to see who people are when they have to pack a little, tiny piece of their lives and take it with them as they navigate the uncharted terminal territory… I find it very interesting.

After people watching for about an hour while sitting at our gate, I was escorted to the plane with the crew by one of the Lufthansa gate agents who was working our United flight. I loved it when another agent we passed by tried to stop me, because clearly I wasn’t in uniform, and tell me that I couldn’t go that way. Chris simply threw a quick head nod her way and said, “Uh, she’s with us.” HA! Royal treatment when you’re with the captain.

This time, as we returned to Chicago, the travel itch was out of my system. I was loving my lavish upper-deck business class seat, sipping my wine and enjoying the added pride that my uncle was flyin that bird. Thanks Chris for helping me get away.

What a trip!

Em