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Memo to Chicago O'Hare: Heal Thyself

By - May 24, 2006

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I know this is totally off topic, but I’ve had the truly life changing experience of routing through Chicago’s O Hare airport three times in the past week. As much as I’d like to report that things have changed at the proudly self proclaimed “world’s busiest airport”, alas, this report is quite the opposite. I lost more than two days of my life to that hell hole. In short, Chicago O’Hare sucks, and I, for one, would rather spend three extra hours in the air simply to avoid landing there, and I’d heartily recommend anyone who might be considering O’Hare as a destination to, well, reconsider before the place sucks you into the seventh circle of hell, a place from which I am only now emerging. I think.


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13 thoughts on “Memo to Chicago O'Hare: Heal Thyself

  1. Rohn says:

    Totally cracked me up. I was just there yesterday on my way to NC for a convention and almost missed my flight. We literaly banged on the door and they “kindly” let us aboard after giving our seats away. I don’t mind flying the friendly skies, but sometimes it is a real pain in the you know where to actually get there.

    Happy travels.

  2. jeff nolan says:

    For that reason alone I look for flights connecting through Denver whenever I have to connect. Just be thankful you didn’t have to fly through Detroit, if there is a single airport most deserving of the title *hithole, it is definitely Detroit.

  3. Sorry you had such a rough time at O’Hare, which does face a number of weather-related delays, but could you be more specific about what the problems you faced actually were? Was it the airport’s fault, or the airline’s?

  4. I have no idea whose fault it was. There were 26 planes waiting on the runway for clearance, we sat there for 2.5 hours. It was clear as a bell, but had been raining in the morning. Sure, weather gets bad, but clearly, one set of thunderstorms in the morning should not mess up an entire airport for the entire day.

  5. Nolan … when’s the last time you flew through Detroit? Which airline?

    The new NW terminal is awesome. Nothing like the older terminal that smelled like urine.

  6. jeff nolan says:

    Patrick,
    United, a few years ago and the airport experience was just one factor that has caused me to avoid that city ever since. First impressions do matter.

  7. joelion says:

    We were probably stuck in that, as you said, hell hole at the same time. I was flying back from Germany to NC and had to go through Chicago (which of course, already added about 2 hours to my flight time) last Wednesday. I arrived from Munich at 2:30 and had a 7:30 connection. I thought I might have time to go into the city and hang out for a bit because I’ve never been to downtown chicago. Well, after it took 2.5 hours to get through customs and baggage claim (and baggage re-check) that plan was shot. So I went and sat at the gate. Then starting at 6:30, the flight was systematically delayed 1 hour at a time, each hour. When it was finally delayed till 11:57pm and i had been sitting in that loud, overcrowded and dirty airport for 9 hours, i was ready to give up. They finally announced that the flight’s new departure time was 1:27AM, meaning my wife in NC would have to pick me up at 5AM, meaning she would have to leave our house at 3AM. (this is now turning into a rant about United Airlines, not so much O’Hare, but i’m sure they’re routing and mangement systems only exacerbate these problems) So the ticket agent told us “we will switch you to tomorrow mornings 9:10AM flight, free of charge, if you don’t want to wait for the 1:27AM flight”. But of course, since at the time we were “voluntarily” switching our flight to the next day, United didn’t have to provide compensation for hotels or future flights or anything. So I switched, got a hotel, got on my 9:10AM flight (which left at 10:45) the next day, and found out of course, that had I waited at O’Hare until 2AM the previous night, the other flight was cancelled and they would have provided housing.

    My wife is a professional cyclist and therefore flys a lot, and with lots of baggage, including one or two oversized bike bags with several thousand dollars of equipment. If she has a layover in O’Hare, we can almost garuntee that her bags will be lost.

  8. “Chicago” is a native american word meaning, “Weather always sucks, stay away.” Settlers selecting the name for their nascent town were sadly and maliciously misled, having been told the word meant “place of soothing rest and endless prosperity.”

  9. John says:

    O’Hare will be better once the new runway is added easing the bottlenecks caused by poor weather.

    Of course the beauty of O’Hare is only realized if you live in Chicago. Consider that all of you whiners who have to route through Chicago are on flights that are non-stops for us locals. We may not know when those non-stops are going to take off, but we know there is little risk in missing our connection. LOL.

  10. Steph says:

    As a Chicagoan myself (and truly, since global warming kicked in, the weather is quite mild), I can only say “Fly through Midway.” I never fly through O’Hare. There are great direct flights from San Jose and Oakland through Midway, a small, clean, well-run airport. I’ve never had a delayed flight, lost luggage, etc. at Midway (yet). Enjoy!

  11. jazz says:

    United, a few years ago and the airport experience was just one factor that has caused me to avoid that city ever since. First impressions do matter.Site Ekle

  12. Tim says:

    Every itinerary I have flown through O’Hare (on United, oddly enough) has had at least one late flight. I really don’t get it: why don’t the people in charge fix these issues?

    United has customer care personnel who do care about your concerns when you call them; I just wish the same people who cared about my travel problems were in charge of this airport I affectionately call “The Midwest’s Own Civil Disaster.”

  13. pissed off customer says:

    UNITED AIRLINES + CHICAGO O’ HARE=HELL ITSELF!!!!!
    Me and me family were flying to santa ana airport with a connection at Chicago o hare. We arrive go through customs and wait at the baggage claim for about..3 HOURS!!! Then a guy comes and says “the baggage is at the airport somewhere” so then they tell us to go without baggage and that it will be “safely sent to our house” Then our flight which was supposed to leave at around 5:30 is delayed to about 10:30 and they redirect the flight to LAX….Then we had to go for 1 hour with stupid super shuttles to the Santa Ana Airport by then it was about 1:40 and the airport is CLOSED. So they left us there at the airport where everything was closed and no taxis were there… And I have not gotten the baggage yet So if you do have a connection flight AVOID CHICAGO AND UNITED AIRLINES