A few weeks ago, I started writing this post from Gate L3 in Terminal 3 at O’hare International Airport. I was there here 7+ hours. You’re probably asking, “Why?!?! Why were you there so damn long?!” I will tell you: The one time I got to the airport early, my flight got delayed 6 hours. I KNOW. I got the flight status alert when I was two stops away on the Blue Line and that text message almost broke my soul. I am notoriously impatient when it comes to travel. My main goal is usually to arrive just in time to walk onto the plane. I’ve never missed a flight because I make it my mission to be the most efficient, no-frills traveler in the security line and I never check any luggage. But this one time, it didn’t matter because my flight was delayed due to severe thunderstorms and a few tiny little tornadoes. I knew I couldn’t sit in a corner on my laptop ALL day, so I made it my mission to really explore the terminal. I checked out everything in Terminal 3 and I’ve put together a list of things you can do to keep yourself from losing your goddamn mind when your flight is delayed.
If you are know you’re going to be stuck at the airport for at least 3 hours, pay for WiFi access. For whatever reason, most of us cringe at the idea of paying for WiFi access. I’ve certainly turned my nose up at the idea many times, but here’s what I realized: It’s NBD. Honestly. It’s $6.95 for 24-hour Wifi access—that’s the cost of a latte and a scone at Starbucks. At a certain point, you will want to surf the internet, tweet about your misery, check Facebook, scroll through Instagram, download a podcast, or all of the above. All of these things are much more convenient with WiFi, so just buy it already.
Grab a drink. You need it. A glass of wine or champagne will certainly melt your stress away, so grab a seat at the bar and drink up. This is a small bar located right next to the food court, so as soon as a seat opens up, sidle right in and unwind. I recommend finding a seat closer to the windows since it can get a little noisy. Bubbles Wine Bar has a lovely selection of reds, whites, and champagnes and you could easily spend several hours testing their menu.
Did you know that O’hare installed a Yoga Room in Terminal 3 back in 2013? If you did, then you are much more in-the-know than I am. As I mentioned earlier, I am notoriously impatient. A contributing factor to my impatience is my bad back. Sitting for hours on end wreaks havoc on my back, and I usually have to stretch before and after my flight. But if you’re near Terminal 3, you can stop by the Yoga Room for some peaceful stretching and exercise. It’s located on the Mezzanine level at the Rotunda (near one of the USO lounges). It’s pretty small for my taste, but beggars can’t be choosers. There are bathrooms nearby if you need to change into yoga-friendly gear, and there is space to store your items in the yoga room while you do your thing. Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes in the Yoga Room and you’ll forget all about that DUMB DELAY THAT IS KEEPING YOU FROM FLYING AWAY.
Get another drink. You are in purgatory and nobody is judging you, so go for it. If you’re looking for a nice cold beer, grab a seat at the bar. While wine holds a very special place in my heart, sometimes all you want is a beer, burger, and fries. On more than one occasion I’ve ordered a burger and large basket of fries and a few beers to unwind before I board my flight—because french fries. I can’t say no to french fries. Can you?
Head to ICE if you’re looking for fancy cocktails, small bites, and a a decent liquor list. This place has a very trendy vibe, and I always feel out of place when I stop by (because i’m usually wearing yoga pants, an oversized shirt, and no makeup). That being said, it’s hard for me to turn down a Moscow Mule in a copper mug. I’m a sucker for copper mugs and I will gladly pay a little more to drink out of a copper mug. Also, there’s a lot more seating at ICE so you can also grab a cocktail while kicking up your feet. Order a cheese plate and settle in for the long haul. Word to the wise: they have a hostess kiosk up front, but seating is self serve so there’s no need to wait.
Treat yo self. Facial, mani/pedi, massage. Look, you need to pass the time, and you should probably do it while getting pampered. The manicures and pedicures are a bit more basic than what your go-to salon, but I’m all for someone else painting my nails. The massages, however, are a godsend. Melt your stress away for 30 minutes or more and you’ll have a whole new outlook and the ridiculous delays that once pestered you. Availability can vary, especially when everyone’s flight is getting delayed. I recommend checking with the receptionist ahead of time to secure an appointment.
Get a good sandwich. None of that pre-made tasteless stuff. This place is located near the food court, so it can get really busy. But I promise it’s worth the wait. The idea of eating a crummy over-priced sandwich while I’m waiting at the airport is just ridiculous. I want my over-priced sandwich to taste good. Rick Bayless to the rescue with tasty tortas. If you sit at the outward facing bar seats, you can enjoy some good old-fashioned people watching.
I hope this post comes in handy if you ever have the misfortune of getting stuck at O’hare International in Terminal 3. Good luck!