How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

25 Ways to Kill Time at Chicago Airport

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I thought I’d revisit the China posts. Some of you haven’t seen them. Enjoy.

Warning: This is longer than my usual posts. Also Note: Newbie person traveling. Some of this may be old hat to you.

We didn’t need to worry about our luggage as it flew ahead direct from Toronto to Beijing. What a blessing, yet this causes me discomfort not knowing exactly where it might be. A whole string of what ifs torment me anyway. The most nagging: what if my luggage goes to the wrong destination? Pul-eese. It’ll be fine. I’d packed two changes of clothing in my carry-on thanks to advice from my blogging friends.

It turns out we’re a long way from the main building and a shuttle arrives as we land in Chicago. We jumped aboard in a fine spring mist, hoping for delivery to the correct terminal. We then jogged in the now drizzle to the entrance. First stop a washroom.

What is this? I feel like a country mouse. The toilet had unusual self-sanitizing seats. Think ultra-soft (memory foam). This video shows better than I can explain:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cokBht49qt8

Only five hours and 45 minutes to kill.

Now, what? We saw Starbucks and MacDonalds; a kind of deli; various health food shops; tons of neck pillows and sunglasses;  books and magazines, and a bar or two. Maybe we should have considered sampling our way through the food shops to keep busy.

25 Ways to Kill Time in the Chicago Airport:

  1. Walk, limp, stumble. keep moving.
  2. Learn to avoid lineups around boarding and arrivals gates on both sides of the building.
  3. Dodge weary travelers more concerned about their wheelies than who’s in front or behind them.
  4. Gape at the zillions of people (I don’t get out enough), from all parts of the world, who arrive and depart in giant waves like schools of fish—big ones— with luggage
  5. Close your mouth time and again and do your best not to stick out as if you’d just left the cabbage patch. Isn’t the world a big and confusing place?
  6. Make a deposit at each washroom you wander past. When the opportunity presents itself, you might as well grab it. Best keep your tank empty.
  7. Hang around the unusual new-fangled toilets. What will they think of next? (refer to Youtube video). I wondered how often the plastic covers were replaced and asked an attendant, but she didn’t know either.
  8. Stand in long lines to buy food/water even though not hungry
  9. Fight the crowd to buy coffee.
  10. Search for an empty table to rest aching feet. Why were all the tables occupied? Pull out my now soggy pizza out of your carry-on.
    At Chicago O'Hare Airport killing time

    At Chicago O’Hare Airport killing time


  11. Take pictures of a plane through a restaurant window, not exactly proof you’re in Chicago but what the heck.
  12. After tiring yourself out walking around the gargantuan airport, sit and try to read or people watch.
  13. Comb the gift shops for a Chicago fridge magnets but don’t buy one. They were too expensive at $5.99 each (U.S. dollars of course) and tiny—the width of two of today’s postage stamps.
  14. Check the screen for your gate early. Why is the waiting area full already. Lucky to find a seat each.
  15. Count tall people / short people. If they keep shifting up and down. start over and give up.
  16. Survey couples in boarding area to guess which ones might be going to Beijing. (Sue spied a couple from our Toronto flight).
  17.  Without hesitation, strike up a conversation and ask if they are on your tour.  knows how to peg them. They are going our way.
  18. Stare at the time in two-minute intervals, which doesn’t move it any faster. One hour and 25 minutes to boarding.
  19. Notice a planeload of pilots attached to wheelie carry-ons, who mill about purchasing food. Have you seen so many at once? Why are they hungry? Are they arrivals or departures?
  20. Gawk and wonder how all these pilots happen to be so good looking, but much more important, fret if they are indeed old enough for the job? Most look around fifteen.

    Someone's tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

    Someone’s tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

  21. Shift and re-shift from one numb butt cheek to the other and blink faster than a turn signal to stay awake. Eyes too dry to read? You wuss. You’ve only been awake 29 hours. Fifteen and a little bit to go.
  22. Evade running and screaming children
  23. Stew over whose toddler is wandering around alone. Not your responsibility, but where are the parents? You want to know, don’t you? Where ARE they? No one’s paying attention to the little guy. Nobody.
  24. Line up as directed with visa and boarding pass to get the visa to China stamped. This takes five minutes. One hour and 15 minutes to go
  25. Spy a female pilot. Wow! She looks about 40, old enough and experienced compared to the fifteen-year-old male pilots. You could trust her but where’s her crew?

The clock clicks one mouse whisker at a time. Time’s up. Boarding is announced by a distorted male voice. Not unlike unconscious sleepwalkers, you funnel into lines and shuffle forward, necessary papers clutched and eyes begging for toothpicks.

*  * *

Next on December 23rd – A Pause for Thanks and Christmas

©Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on China tab above

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

47 thoughts on “25 Ways to Kill Time at Chicago Airport

  1. Tess, your China posts were a grand adventure for all of us. I think it’s great that you’re rerunning them. Mega hugs.

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  2. ugh! I so hate O’Hare. I avoid it at all costs.

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  3. Great tips, Tess. I WILL travel again!

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  4. I lived two lives in O’hare. I’m so glad you are running this again. 🙂

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  5. So funny Tess! I call the airport experience the hurry up & wait game. Hurry up to get through all if the various checkpoints only to sit & wait for what seems to be an extraordinary amount of time before boarding.😜

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You crack me up Tess! I do wonder about the ages of pilots I have to say. Then I think well they probably grew up playing video games so that likely gives them an advantage. 🙂

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  7. Glad you are revisiting this trip as many of your new followers may not have read about it. It was such a fun read!!

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  8. Like you, I always focus on children who appear to be traveling alone. I always felt like mine had to be close enough to grab. I once saw a little one swinging on a chain fence just as his mother read nearby. I held my breath fearing he would plunge off. I walked near him and said, “Go to mama!” Mama glared at me, but at least he didn’t die that day.

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  9. The worse part of traveling. A sense of humor helps. I love ‘making a deposit’ at each of the wash rooms. Ha ha. Like a dog at each fire hydrant. 🙂

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  10. Ha ha love it. We went to New Zealand from South Africa in August. My goodness what a long flight and the in-flight entertainment wasn’t working for the first 6 hours.

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  11. Great list!! And now that I’m a new mom, I could TOTALLY relate to #22 and #23…after years of travelling with just me and husband, we are suddenly *those* parents. Haaha!

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    • It scares me that someone could snatch a child in a busy place like an airport (or anywhere). Kids get restless and I know it’s hard to be on them every minute.
      Congratulations on being a new mom. You have a little time before you baby starts running around. 🙂

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  12. Your China trip is worth a revisit.

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  13. Lol Tess. I love your observations. Me, I’d shop as much as I could and read a book. 🙂

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  14. I shall remember these if I ever go to Chicago.. thank you.. 🙂

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  15. I am glad that you are sharing these as I missed them first time around. Looking forward to sharing your adventures. 🙂

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  16. I love hanging around airports ❤️

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  17. Great to catch up on this, as I’m sure I joined the trip half-way through. I got stuck once in Paris (Charles de Gaulle) due to snow and cancelled flights, and spent there all day (thankfully managed to leave in the evening, a whole day late). Oh, I queued for returns, I had some food, I managed to find somewhere to sit and thankfullly, they gave us free internet access. I had the computer so I wrote reviews, and my Kindle so I read, and wondered around, and looked at the shops, and wrote… A loooooong day.

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  18. My last experience of Chicago O’Hare airport was improved because an American friend suggested that I walk through the tunnel between Concourses A and B of Terminal 1. I walked to and fro four times. It includes a kinetic neon light show called “The Sky’s the Limit.” Well worth the walk.

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  19. After reading that list of things to do whilst waiting at the airport I think I’m going to change my plans to go for a quick weekend to Germany. It sounds too depressing if there’s a delay , added to the ever lengthening queues at security. I think I’ll stay home and have another mince pie instead! Merry Christmas

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  20. I’ve been on enough flights with long layovers to appreciate all of this! 🙄

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  21. I particularly liked the part about combing the gift shops for fridge magnets but don’t buy one 😉 You’re hilarious!

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    • Ha ha. Well, shoot. We know stores in airports are out to bleed you dry. We simply refused to be taken. They were about $5.99 for these tiny things. Even my friend who doesn’t mind spending money (she’s a shopaholic) decided they were overpriced.
      Nice to see you, Christy. Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Sounds as though you’ve got this pretty much down to a science. I have to say, the wandering toddler made me cringe. That would really get to me.

    Also want to say, Merry Christmas, Tess, and Happy New Year!

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