Tuesday, January 15


Blogandt Note: This post was written last night while waiting for my flight out of an airport. I'm still mad, so I'm still posting it.

One tip for travelers: NEVER fly into or through Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Fly around it at all costs. A hub airport in a cold city just doesn’t work in January, and as a result I’m stranded here again. For whatever reason it also happens to be very windy in Chicago—who knew?—and yes I have had flights delayed due to high winds. By the way, the big buildings in downtown Chicago all use revolving doors to keep out the winter super-draft. Does that sound like a good city to travel through in winter?

Worse, O’Hare isn’t even one of those cool airports that you wouldn’t mind getting stranded in, like the one I just left in Phoenix, or the home airport in Pittsburgh, or that island with magical powers on Lost. And this is coming from me, someone who actually likes airports, planes, seats on planes, sleeping on planes and the general concept of flying and traveling in general. The O’Hare motto here should be, “If you hate flying, you’ll really hate flying out of O’Hare.”

How bad is O’hare? Well, food choices are limited, but you’re forced to eat here since you will inevitably be delayed. I had to eat TWO McDonald’s meals in 24 hours, which means I’ve already gone over my McDonald’s limit for 2008, and it’s still January. And to add insult to injury, you have to pay extra for your McDonald’s meal since you’re in such a great airport (the same meal in Pittsburgh is $1.08 less). I could have sat down for a decent meal at Chili’s next door, but I was afraid I wouldn’t make my flight and hence needed fast food. And of course, three hours later, I’m still at the airport. If I’m here much longer, I may become not only the billionth, but also the 1 billion and 543rd served at the O’Hare McD’s.

O’Hare is crowded. You’re constantly bumping into people because the gates and hallways are way too tight compared to the crowds. Adding more lanes will never help the traffic out West, but it does indeed help in the airports--Phoenix had hallways twice this wide. Walking through O’Hare, I felt like Tony Romo being tracked down by NY Giants linemen on Sunday—or paparazzi the weekend before.

Two times I have been moved toward writing a letter to Chicago’s city planners. When you get near O’Hare, you’ll find the airport and rental car facilities, but no gas stations in which to fill your rental before returning it. The gas station you need actually comes a few miles up the interstate at the “Oasis,” but you wouldn’t know that since there are no signs that say “last gas before airport.” So instead you do what you do in every other city, which is look a gas station near the rental places, expect you will never find one here since they don’t have any. And you drive, and drive, and drive as your flight time looms closer and your rental’s tank gets emptier.

But beware jumping on the interstate roads near the airport, because there are tons of tolls, and some of the exits are the cool kind that require you to have exact change. You know when you dump all your change into your luggage at the airport because you can’t walk through the metal detectors with it? Well, you better get it back out and put it in your pocket, because you’re not getting back on the interstate here if you don’t have exactly 35 cents.

I’m especially pumped because I have to come here twice this week (and neither time for a layover that I would have never booked myself on). I need to make two stops in Chicago this week for TV voice over work (the AMA/Toyota Arenacross Series returns to Speed!) which means there’s a good chance I’ll get stuck here again on Thursday, which may delay my entry into LAX for Anaheim.

And again, I actually LIKE traveling and like my job and this sport. In fact, I can’t believe we’ve begun the fourth season of blogging here and this is my first column about airport complaints. That’s what makes me the most angry about O’Hare—it turns me into someone who complains about flying and airports.

The only good news? I can’t post this thing because O’Hare charges good money to get on the internet. And I won’t give them the satisfaction of making money from my desire to complain about them.


Daniel said...

So I was discussing this blog post with my wife. You and many other industry insiders would have a pretty vast knowledge of which airports around the country are good and which are bad. If you could ever get into Chicago's Midway Airport instead it might be a little nicer. I was in Chicago earlier last year for a job interview and had to spend 8 hours waiting for a flight at Midway. I could have visited some sites around town, but I just didn't feel like getting too far away from airport. Midway was bustling, but I never felt overwhelmed. Plus I had my laptop so I could get online right... Well wrong there. They too charge you like $6 a day or some jazz for the internet. So I read a couple Racer X's and found a comfy chair for a nap. While I wouldn't advise spending 8 hours at Midway, it would not be bad for a couple. Of course Midway is not as big an airport so you might not go through there if you're using jumbo jets. I was flying in on a 17 passanger plane from the southern end of Illinois, but I did see things all the way up to 737 there. If you've got any funny stories on travel those would be good blogs sometime. You know like the fat guy next you is drooling and farting. That kind of stuff.

DJ 868 said...

I totally agree with you. I have'nt been to O'Hare but I hate drive around O'Hare, or really Chicago in general. I worked to a Honda shop in Indy for a number of years and once got sent to that area to do a dealer trade on ten motorcycles. Armed with a Indy 500 pace truck and a open trailer I got sent into the worst ghetto i've been in just north of O'Hare. After being jacked around for hours at some crazy warehouse it was 5 PM and I was finally loaded and ready to head back to Indianapolis. I had two assembled KX 125's and a KX 65 in the bed of the truck and everything else was still crated on the trailer. As I waited in gridlock traffic on side streets I went over the plan I had in my head for when I carjacked. I just knew I was a goner since I was barely 18 and the only one around with something worth stealing. As you know now I made it out alive but it was something i'll never forget. Sorry for taking up so much space on your blog but I had to tell you about it and for everyone else reading this....LISTEN TO THE WEEGE!!! STAY AWAY FROM CHICAGO! DJ 868

Jason Weigandt said...

Yeah, I've been through MidWay and it is much MUCH better than O'Hare. Yes, I know a shed with a few remote control planes would be better than O'Hare, but Midway is actually pretty good just on its own merits.

But that's it for complaints on travel. I think anyone who complains about travel is just a complainer. And that's what gets me so mad at O'Hare--it made me complain.

DJ 868
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? Dude that is horrible. CARJACKED!!! That completely sucks but you can feel good that you at least had my back on this blog. Chicago--man, not on my list of "I could see myself living there" towns. Although one time I cruised through there to get an awesome deal on a KX125....

Englishman in S.D said...

What the hell are you even thinking going anywhere near Shitcago in January??

Fleming said...

wow. that is an offical rant. is it possible this could even be used as some sort of proclamation?

The name's Mac. Stephi Mac. said...

You complainerer. :)~

I know what you mean though, I hate complaining too and when something makes me want to complain it makes me more mad at the situation I want to complain about. So when it comes to traveling I avoid Detroit (effin' hate that airport) and Chicago layovers in the winter ESPECIALLY O'hare layovers. You should complain just once to LN so they can take care of you better...I mean, don't they know who you are for goodness sakes????

- Mac << Yeah, THAT Mac!