AIR Chicago Radio Station Launches Monday at O’Hare, Midway Airports

Just in time for the holiday season-amazing how that works!-this Monday will see the launch of AIR Chicago, “the first 24-hour-a-day airport radio station dedicated to keeping O’Hare and Midway travelers in tune with Chicago Department of Aviation information, airport traffic, weather, business news, smooth jazz music and much more.”

Travelers can access the stations through

Orbitz has predicted that O’Hare will be the busiest airport in the country over Thanksgiving, while Clear Channel estimates 85 million travelers pass through both O’Hare and Midway airports annually.According to a quote in a press release, local dignitaries are pleased:

“On behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we are proud that O’Hare and Midway, in partnership with Clear Channel, are the first airports to offer a radio station specifically devoted to keeping passengers in touch with real-time information,” said Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation. “AIR Chicago is a great example of our efforts to provide a ‘best-in-class’ experience for the millions of travelers who fly through our busy transportation hubs.”

And if you’re heading back to Chicago for the holidays and looking to discover something new, check out AOL Travel’s guide to what’s changed in the past year.

United Cops Record Fine for Stranding Passengers on Tarmac

newark  nj   oct 5  united...
Shutterstock / Songquan Deng

United Airlines has received a hefty penalty for keeping passengers waiting on airplanes for hours on end while their flights were delayed. The Department of Transportation fined the carrier $1.1 million-the biggest fine of its kind so far-for tarmac delays that happened at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last year.

Rules that were put in place in 2010 state that airlines will be penalized if they keep passengers waiting around on the tarmac for more than three hours. In United’s case, all the rule breaking happened on one particularly stormy day when 13 separate United flights were delayed because of thunder and lighting. According to the rules, United was meant to give passengers the chance to get off the plane as it was obvious flights would be held up. But the carrier didn’t. And to top it off, bathrooms on the some of the delayed planes weren’t working, leaving passengers in the lurch.The Department of Transportation says United didn’t do a very good job handling the situation and didn’t reach out to other airport personnel for help. The Department of Transportation also slammed the airline for not having a good plan in place to deal with weather-related problems in general. Some of the money from the fine will go to passengers affected by the delays, while another portion will go towards creating a tracking system at O’Hare so United can better monitor its planes.

First-Class Lounge For Pets Opens At Chicago O’Hare

dog carrier airport
Tom Check, Flickr

Luxury pet hotels, pet portraiture, pet birthday parties and even pet facials – these are just some of the ways the travel industry has bent over backwards to make our furry friends feel like they’re on vacation too.

Now, our four-legged besties are getting the first-class treatment at airport lounges, thanks to the opening of a lounge designed especially for pets at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The on-site kennel is located in United Airline’s new cargo facility and has 28 separate enclosures designed to hold different types of animals comfortably until it’s time for them to fly. The kennel is temperature-controlled, as are the purpose-built vans that shuttle the pampered pooches from the lounge to their flights come boarding time.The lounge, which opened at the end of last month, is the third such pet facility that United is operating in airports across the U.S., with similar services available at Houston and Newark airports.

United says the lounge staff is trained to provide first-class care for the animals, which includes walking, bathing and grooming them. After all, even pets like to stretch their legs, take a hot shower and freshen up their look when they’re in transit, right?

New E-Kiosks Aim To Speed Up Airport Customs Process

Clearing customs after arriving in the United States is set to get faster thanks to a new electronic system. Rather than filling out declaration cards handed out during the flight, travelers will soon use self-service kiosks to answer customs-related questions. The machines will spit out a receipt which passengers will then show to a customs agent, along with their passport and travel information.

Known as the Automated Passport Control Program, the system aims to speed up the border-crossing process. The new technology was developed by the Vancouver Airport Authority and will be implemented in the Canadian city first. It will then be launched at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, which will be the first port of entry in the United States to make use of the automated system.”This technology will help expedite customs processing for passengers arriving to O’Hare, further strengthening Chicago as a global destination,” said Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a news release. “Being the first airport in the U.S. to implement these advances demonstrates how serious we are about making Chicago the first, best and most welcoming city in the country.”

[Photo credit: Flickr user CBP Photography]

Look Out For Goats At Chicago O’Hare

Twenty-five to 30 goats will soon start grazing at Chicago O’Hare Airport. The animals will help landscape 120 acres of foliage, including space near creeks and hill areas that are difficult for groundskeepers to maintain, CNN is reporting.

According to the news outlet, the city announced the plan on Wednesday as part of a two-year contract for “sustainable vegetation management grazing services” that will help them reduce costs and carbon dioxide emissions. To make sure the goats don’t get too close to runways, they will be separated from the airfield by security fencing and will remain supervised while on airport property.

CNN reports other airports that have brought goats in to landscape have seen mixed results. In San Francisco, goats are successfully used two to three weeks each summer to clear vegetation, which allows the airport to clear a firebreak without interrupting some endangered species that call the area home. But in Seattle, goats came and went within a week in 2008 because they were too effective, eating everything in sight – including native plants the airport wanted to protect.

Chicago’s herd is expected to arrive in about a month. Look out for them as you take off and land at the airport.

[Photo credit: Armin Kübelbeck / Wikimedia Commons]