9 May 2009


A few days ago, I logged on to Expedia to book a flight from Detroit to Chicago, from where I was due to fly back to Heathrow. It didn’t take long and all seemed to go very smoothly - until, at Detroit airport, I discovered that I should have taken a bit longer and taken a bit more care.

So here are a couple of helpful tips for anyone who might ever have to book an internal US flight to Chicago and/or have the misfortune to fly out of Terminal 5 at O'Hare airport.

1. Unknown to me until yesterday, there are two big airports in Chicago, and I'd mistakenly booked a flight from Detroit to Chicago Midway to catch a Virgin flight to Heathrow. But Virgin flights go to and from Chicago O’Hare. Luckily, it’s only a 45 minute shuttle bus ride between the two of them and, even more luckily, I’d allowed so much time that I didn’t have to get into a serious travel flap. So, if you are booking a flight to or from Chicago, make sure you check which airport you need.

2. New and flashy though it may be, Terminal 5 at O’Hare must be the only airport in the world that has no restaurants, and precious little in the way of bar and shopping facilities, once you’ve passed through the security checks. The facilities are so minimal (a few mobile market stalls on wheels), that there’s no coffee or tea available, not even from a machine. Even more annoying is the fact that there are no notices warning you of this irritating fact before you start taking your shoes off and putting your other potentially hazardous belongings through the X ray machine.

So the moral of this part of the story is that, if you ever do have to pass through this miserable place, feeling a bit peckish or in the mood for some retail therapy, make sure you get it done before you go through security - though even then you'll still have the added stress of trying trying to work out whether you've allowed enough time to eat something, go shopping and get through the security checks before your plane leaves.