Back in Canada. Toronto, not Vancouver.
I needed a change and this definitely fit the bill. During my commute, which started at 5:30AM Monday in Vietnam and ended at Toronto’s Pearson Airport at 7:30PM. All told it meant I travelled for 24 hours, when I combine flight time and time zones. Needless to say, punchdrunk described my first few hours in Toronto.
My route went Saigon to Hong Kong, to Chicago to Toronto. For the most part, for an all day travel day, things were pretty smooth, the only hiccup in the whole journey was at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. My flight was delayed by an hour, stretching my layover from 2 to 3 hours.
The upshot of being stuck there, I met a lovely US Army medical recruiter on her way to North Carolina for training (and a vacation from being a single mom).
My time at O’Hare opened my eyes to some things about airports I’d nearly forgotten. With that, let’s take a look at how O’Hare fared in my unofficial, unscientific, purely interpretive take on how an airport makes an impression upon a visitor.
1: Fat Fast Food
Living in Vietnam for six months I started to feel almost chunky, not so in O’Hare where every imaginable form of fast, fattening food could be obtained with minimal fuss and maximum portions and pricing. From the amount of overweight to obese to beached whales waddling along the concourse it seems the Americans can’t seem to pass up a bad meal.
Grade: C+ (As I’m sure there must be some healthy food options hidden there).
2: Information Please
There are information desks but they are tucked away and hidden and in the maze of restaurants and souvenir stands, a dearth of maps and guides.
3: Banking made vile
At the banks currency exchange is available and the bank will happily, gleefully, evilly convert all monies into US currency before charging a commission to transfer it into another foreign currency. My Vietnamese Dong would have to go into US Dollars (commission charge) and then into Canadian Dollars (another commission charge).
Grade: C (as this is pretty standard by greedy bastard banks around the world).
4: Now Departing
Oh good grief O’Hare, every other airport I’ve ever been in lists departing flights by the TIME of the departure. Why the need to list departures alphabetically by city? This is the metric versus imperial debate writ in the sky.
Grade: D- (join the rest of the world O’Hare).
Fuck you O’Hare. Epic fail. No free wi-fi in your airport? Allegedly a major hub for travellers how in the blue hell are you so outdated and backwaterish that wifi costs $6.95 for 24 hours. How long are typical layovers in this airport? What’s more, if someone tries to join O’Hare wifi, their crappy money-gouge web device (Boing) will continue to pop-up everytime a person opens their browser.
For those unwilling to pay to be buggered by Boing, fear not, 15 minutes only cost $5. Hello O’Hare, the mid 90s called and said to quit stealing their price plan.
Grade: F- (Two horrible price options and what is essentially a phishing scam pop-up).
Overall Grade: E+
The worst possible grade imaginable. Because it’s an E plus… an E plus what…? Exactly.
I’ll likely pass through O’Hare again, especially if Toronto becomes a permanent or semi-permanent place for me, but each time I do, I’ll leave O’Hare thankful to be i the air and feeling dirty for having passed through it.
Make some improvements O’Hare or I’ll continue to O’Pine O’Hell about your facilities and amenities.