With Thanksgiving just a few days away, many of us will be hitting the road or the skies, or maybe both, as the holiday travel season kicks into high gear. I find this time of year particularly stressful when travelling- a nice nerve-frazzling mixture of massive crowds, rushed schedules, and the unpredictability of the weather. But if you find yourself in the midst of a holiday travel-induced meltdown at Chicago's Midway Airport, I hope to impart some helpful advice.
May I present the No Bags To Check Midway Airport Holiday Travel Guide:
1. Getting there. Traffic will be awful- it's inevitable in this city. So, I first recommend not driving. Take the Orange Line; you may find it actually is faster than sitting in gridlock on I-55 or Cicero Avenue. If you do decide to drive, I prefer Midway Park Ride & Fly. I've tried a few of these satellite parking services, and these guys are the best. Good customer service, especially if your flight is cancelled, affordable rates, and they are always quick to pick you up when you return. You know you don't want to be standing in the cold after finally making it to Chicago.
2. Checking in. Most airlines allow you to check in on-line these days (except for some international flights) and you can even do a lot from your phone (the new Southwest app is great). Do as much as you can from home. If you can, have only carry-on luggage- it saves time before and after your flight. I try to ship as many gifts as I can to my final destination so I can travel light. If you only have carry-ons, but still need a boarding pass, check out the boarding pass kiosks right before security. This avoids the often crowded ticketing hall and let's you do everything you need except check bags.
3. Security. Midway's security is a mess. Instead of filtering passengers into separate sections based on their flight terminal, it's a mass of humanity trying to get to your gate. If you have it in your budget, I highly recommend springing for business class so you can skip the main security line and go through the shorter and more efficient priority lane. Southwest, the main carrier at Midway, provides Business Select and you can check with other airlines for options. Otherwise, take a deep breath and leave yourself plenty of time to clear security, especially this time of year.
4. Waiting for your plane. Congratulations, you're almost there! Once you've passed security, you have a lot of options if you're not running to catch your flight (I told you to leave plenty of time!). Here are some of my favorite ways to wait:
- Grab a local Metropolis Coffee at Gold Coast Dogs in the food court between Terminal A and B. Best kept secret at Midway. There's also a Starbucks in the Potbelly if that's more your thing.
- If you're looking for an adult beverage to calm any pre-flight nerves, Reilly's Daughter Pub in the back on the food court does it's best to pretend like it's not in an airport. It has some quiet booths in the back and feels like a regular bar besides the excess suitcases around. Just be aware of the time since it's hard to hear any announcements in there. If it's too crowded or you're running late, you can always grab a to-go cup.
- While you're in the food court, the bathroom towards the back tend to be less crowded if you need to take care of some business.
- Don't eat at the McDonald's (in both A and B terminals). There's always a huge line, and while the food might be tasty and quick, let's be honest, you feel gross after eating it and stick up the plane with your Big Mac farts. There's actually a lot of variety to eat at Midway, but if you're looking for something more healthy, Sprigs by gate B16 is a salad bar, and the Relay stores throughout offer dried fruit, nuts, and other more nutritious snacks.
- Need to take care of some errands? There are BMO Harris and Bank of America ATMs throughout- including in the food court and terminals. There's also a mail box as you're walking to terminal A.
- If you forgot any gifts on your list, there's options for that too. A lot of you're typical airport tchotchkes and stuff that just at "CHICAGO" blasted all over it, but some other choices too. There's a music store outside gate B2, bookstore outside B8, and toy store as you're walking into the B terminal. There's also a Life is Good store next to the toy store and a Nuts on Clark next to the music store.
- Just want a quiet space away from the crowd? Midway does have a chapel in Terminal C or there's an area before you get to Terminal A just outside security that has a lot of seating and not a lot of 'cattle calls' for boarding or people rushing by.
I sincerely hope your holiday travel plans are smooth and as stress free as possible. #AtLeastItsNotOHare
Let me know if this guide came in handy, if there's anything to add, or if it made you look into investing in teleporting in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter. I love hearing other people's tips.
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