ORD

Hop Over to Last-Minute Easter Gifts, Right at the Airport

Hop Over to Last-Minute Easter Gifts, Right at the Airport

Going home for Easter but not in the mood to pay luggage fees to pack gifts for the family? You don’t have to waste precious luggage space or worry about selecting gifts that will make it through security; these days, you can find fabulous gifts for your loved ones right at the airport, saving you shopping time and energy. Thankfully Easter is a pretty low-maintenance holiday when it comes to giving gifts (looking at you, Christmas and Hannukah), so a simple card and box of chocolates will suffice. Most stores have pre-made Easter baskets and boxes prepared, making your job even easier. If you’re feeling that extra “Spring” in your step, bring home flowers for mom – she deserves it!
Easter

Knowing where to go is half the battle. Plan some extra time at your departure airport or take a little time when you land to find yourself a chocolate shop and a Hudson Booksellers  to purchase cards. Because there are so many quality options at airports these days, you will surely find a gift to bring home for Easter that does not scream “last-minute.” Here is a list of chocolate and gift shops at various airports that will melt your heart (and theirs!):

EasterInsider Tip: While you nibble on that extra chocolate treat you picked up for yourself, use your time on the plane to express how much you care in each of the cards you picked up.  Everyone loves a heartfelt handwritten note!

Top 5 Airports in the USA to Layover In

Top 5 Airports in the USA to Layover In

Top 5 Airports to Layover In the USA

 

Stuck at the airport between flights for a few hours? Bored? Tired? Don’t worry because these airports are there for you whether you have a short or extremely long layover. Be sure to plan your next trip through these airports to enjoy their amenities!

  1. San Francisco International Airport- SFO

San Francisco International Airport at dusk

This Golden Gate-City airport has plenty to offer when you have a long layover and need to kill time at the airport. If you want to learn more about this lovely city, the Aviation Museum and SFO Museum are interactive and great ways to learn more about the culture of California. Don’t worry about spending too much money on Internet because this airport also has free Wi-Fi and a free Yoga room to stretch out your legs after a long day of traveling.

 

Insider Tip: Those who have longer layovers can take the BART into the heart of San Francisco in just 11 minutes.

 

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport- DFW

dallas-fort-worth-airport-marcel-kaiser

The heart of Texas is a great destination for any layover. Many of the lounges are ranked among the best in the world and all passengers can enjoy the free Wi-Fi. If you are more active, make sure to try walking on the airport trail or check out one of the yoga rooms. The food in Dallas is worth trying, especially at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen so don’t forget to fill your stomach before boarding your next flight.

 

Insider Tip: If you need to catch up on your sleep, check out a Minute Suite to get your very own room within the airport.

 

3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport- ORD

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Despite being one of the busiest airports in the world, Chicago O’Hare has plenty of amenities for passengers of all ages. The Chicago Public Art Program decorates each terminal with artwork from local artists. Be sure to see the famous “The Sky’s The Limit” – an ever-changing neon light illuminator between Concourses B and C. Remember to try Tortas Frontera created by celebrity chef Rick Bayless or enjoy an authentic Chicago style deep-dish pizza at a variety of restaurants.

 

Insider Tip: If you have a few hours, head across to the Hilton O’Hare Hotel and go to the newly renovated gym or for a refreshing swim.

 

4. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport- MSP

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Minnesota’s largest city airport will not disappoint whether you have a long or short layover. There are various attractions within the airport, which are necessary due to the frequent delays that Minneapolis Airport has. Don’t miss the 1.5 mile walking path around the perimeter of the airport and be sure to check out one of the three XPresSpa locations if you need a soothing massage before your next flight.

 

Insider Tip: The world famous Mall of America is just a 12-minute ride on the LRT. Be sure to take your kids for the thrill of the theme park within the mall.

 

5. John F. Kennedy International Airport- JFK

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Located only a few minutes outside the heart of New York City, John F. Kennedy International Airport has plenty to do both inside and out. The expansive cuisine ranges from Italian food at Aeronuova to crab empanadas at Piquillo; both of which can satisfy your taste buds before your upcoming flight. Additionally, be sure to visit the dozens of shopping malls within the airport to find gifts for your loved ones and yourself.

 

Insider Tip: If you have a long layover, take the AirTrain to Manhattan to experience the vibrancy of New York City.

Celebrity Chef Inspired Airport Restaurants

Whether you are a food enthusiast or just looking for a savory meal, make sure to check out these celebrity chef inspired airport restaurants. Their vast menu coupled with their rich flavors will make these places a must visit for any passenger.

 

Rick Bayless- Chicago, Illinois (ORD)

Consistently regarded as one of the best Mexican airport restaurants in the country, Tortas Frontera by Celebrity chef Rick Bayless never fails to disappoint. From the warm flavor of authentic chicken tortilla soup, to the savory freshness of the chipotle chicken, roasted mushroom, and pepito tortas, this is a spot you should not miss. Nobody likes that guy on the airplane with a sloppy bag of food; this Mexican meal is packed into a savory sandwich so it won’t mess up your hands or relationship with your seat mates.

 

Insider Tip: For a longer layover, enjoy the full Mexican experience by pairing the Pepito torta and the poblano corn chowder. Dip the torta in the chowder and let your taste buds take off.

 

Jamie Oliver- New York, New York (LGA)

If you’re a fan of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, you’re in luck. He has four separate food venues in the airport, so there are ample opportunities to chow down Jamie-style. There’s a coffee truck right at check in to start your journey off on a caffenieted track, or a bakery with gourmet cakes and freshly baked pizza all packed and ready to travel with you. If you have a bit more time, sit down at Jamie’s Italian, where antipasti like cured meat plates and seasonal vegetables precedeclassic dishes a la Osso Buco, Lamb Chops Scottaditto, and Crab Spaghettini.

Insider Tip: Grab a British-style handmade hot dog inside Jamie’s Union Jacks. Try the Dirty Dog with pulled pork, barbeque sauce and crackling!

Roger Mooking- Toronto, Ontario (YYZ)

Brand spanking new restaurant Twist brings healthy flavors from celebrity chef, tv host, and cookbook author Roger Mooking. The restaurant will focus on gluten free, vegetarian, and sustainable options, and will source many ingredients from local Canandian suppliers. While the ingredients may be local, the flavors are bold and exotic, as in the Fried Chicken made with Japanese spices and Thai-influences crispy herbs.

Insider Tip: Indulge in the Splat Scones, made with Devonshire cream, lavendar honey, and peameal bacon.

 

Mike Isabella- Washington D.C (DCA)

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A sister restaurant to Mike Isabella’s Kapnos in Washington, D.C., Kapnos Taverna serves classic and coastal-inspired Greek dishes at Ronald Regan Washington National Airport (DCA). The restaurant has classic traditional takes on the ancient cuisine alongside some of the biggest hits from Isabella’s modern ode to Northern Greece. Savor your taste buds on split roasted meats, Greek meze and seafood towers from the Greek Islands while you wait through your next layover.

 

Insider Tip: Enjoy classical liquid offerings that feature a Greek-heavy wine list and Mediterranean-inspired cocktails by Mike Isabella Concepts beverage director, Taha Ismail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Mexican Restaurants among US Airports

Top Mexican Restaurants among US Airports

Mexican cuisine is attractive to many individuals due to the savory and diverse range of ingredients. It is appealing to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, with a variety of dishes for any occasion. Given my fascination for spicy food coupled with my experiences in various airports across the United States, I figured that I would share my top restaurants for Mexican food at American airports. When I visit Mexican restaurants, I am almost always with other people, so I have a chance to try most if not the entire menu. The restaurants listed below are all must-tries if stopping for a layover, or simply before or after any flight.

 

Tortas Frontera- Chicago, Illinois (ORD)

Star rating: ★★★★★

 

Consistently regarded as one of the best Mexican airport restaurants in the country, Tortas Frontera never fails to disappoint. From the warm flavor of authentic chicken tortilla soup, to the savory freshness of the chipotle chicken, roasted mushroom, and pepito tortas, this is a must have for any passenger at O’Hare. This Mexican cuisine is not as messy because the ingredients are packed into a savory sandwich.

 

Insider Tip: Pair the Pepito torta and the poblano corn chowder and dip it in to make the bread softer!

 

Source: http://chicago.seriouseats.com/2011/08/egg-chorizo-torta-from-torta-frontera-sandwiches-chicago-ohare-international-airport.html

 

Mesa Verde Bar & Grill- Denver, Colorado (DEN)

Star rating: ★★★★★

 

The Mile High city airport has plenty to offer in terms of authentic Mexican cuisine. Not only is this restaurant delicious, but also it is also very affordable. The inventive menu that begins with the brussels sprouts with vegan chorizo to the polenta, and while unorthodox, the taste is indescribable. Moreover, the service is spectacular allowing for minimal waiting time for food.

Insider Tip: Try one meat dish and one veggie dish. The vegetarian dishes vastly differ in taste in comparison to the non-vegetarian dishes.

Source: http://www.westword.com/restaurants/happy-landings-mesa-verde-grill-is-the-go-to-spot-at-denver-international-airport-5110704

 

Javi’s- Santa Ana, California (SNA)

Star rating: ★★★★

 

Javi’s restaurant in Santa Ana airport is not only known for its tasty Mexican food but also it’s very classy interior. The beef and bean enchiladas coupled with a spicy yet limey jalapeño margarita is a very popular choice. While Javi’s is more expensive than the other restaurants mentioned in the list above, the outstanding service and the freshness of the food make it a must-stop for any passenger in southern California. Unfortunately, Javi’s is very expensive, even for the quality of the food, which gives this airport restaurant only 4 stars.

 

Insider Tip: Get the enchilada, taco, chile relleno combo with different types of meat in each!

 

Source: http://javiers-cantina.com/mobile/airport.html

 

Cantina Laredo- Dallas, Texas (DAL)

Star rating: ★★★

 

From the heart of this Texas airport, Cantina Laredo’s Mexican restaurant exceeds expectations and invites customers to enter with an empty stomach, and leave with a more than full one. Their roasted salsa is incredibly tasty coupled with the warmth of their crispy tortilla chips. Not to mention, for any early bird travelers, their Asada y Huevos (grilled meat and eggs) are a healthy and filling start to any morning. The reason for the docking of one star is due to the service being very adequate, at least during the few times I visited.

Insider Tip: Fill up on the chips and homemade salsa! This is the highlight of this restaurant.

 

Source: http://www.cantinalaredo.com/location/dallas-love-field-airport-texas/

 

The Original El Taco- Atlanta, Georgia (ATL)

Star rating: ★★★

 

The Orginal El Taco in the world’s busiest airport is a prime exhibitor of authentic Mexican food. Do not let the small size of the restaurant fool you, because there is an ample amount of variation for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. One should consider trying various dishes, as each item has a vivid different flavor. However, this restaurant is also quite expensive, even for airport food. Moreover, even though the main meals are delicious, the sides (rice and beans, pico) are relatively tasteless.

 

Insider Tip: Get the Shrimp Diablo Taco. You wont regret it.

Source: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-original-el-taco-atlanta-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unwind with a Glass of Vino at Beaudevin Wine and Tapas Bar

Unwind with a Glass of Vino at Beaudevin Wine and Tapas Bar

 

Relax with the perfect glass of wine and a gourmet small-plate at Beaudevin – one of the most relaxing and beautiful spots you will run across in your airport journey. Beaudevin loosely translates to mean “beautiful wine” in French – we could not agree more! With a menu designed to compliment the wine selection, diners can enjoy a variety of artisan charcuterie, cheese and olive plates to nibble on or a nice Baked Goat Cheese. For a heartier meal, the Smoked Salmon Tartine is an excellent choice. Beaudevin offers three pours: 3, 6, and 9 ounces and around 30 different wines which will satisfy any xenophile in your crew. If you aren’t so sure what to order, check out the leaf iconography next to each wine on the menu for the wine’s level of intensity. If you are feeling adventurous, ask about local selections. In the Charlotte location, for example, they offer several wines produced in North Carolina that you surely won’t find at your next stop. In the Brussels location, you are sure to find some interesting local rieslings. These locations are not only beautiful but are comfy and relaxing amidst the hustle and bustle of the concourse, so kick back and relax!

Insider Tip: While you can enjoy your meal at the fab seating at the bar, why not grab your gourmet dish to go and enjoy it while taking in the scenery at 30,000 feet? Who says you have to fly first class to enjoy a nice meal these days?

Locations: Brussels Airport (BRU) – Terminal A, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) – Atrium, Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) – Terminal 1, Miami International Airport (MIA) – Terminal D, San Diego International Airport (SAN) – Terminal 2

Image credit: (CC Flickr) Prayitno

Chocolate: The Cure For Airport Stress

Chocolate: The Cure For Airport Stress

Travel delays got you feeling down at the airport? Indulge in some tasty chocolate! The delicious snack will not only satisfy your sweet tooth cravings but also releases feel-good endorphins. Stress be gone!

Pro Tip: If there’s a Duty Free store in your airport, check for travel retail confectionary exclusives. You can score some great deals on delicious chocolates! We love Godiva.

Image credit: By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Cead Mile Failte from the Flight Deck! It’s St. Patrick’s Day!

Cead Mile Failte from the Flight Deck! It’s St. Patrick’s Day!

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching and many festivals and parades already over the weekend, I thought I would spread some Irish luck your way and some tips to help you celebrate in style. First some Gaelic 101: “Cead Mile Failte,” pronounced “Kay-da May-la Fall-cha,” means a hundred thousand welcomes. “Slainte!” is what you say to toast before drinking, and it is pronounced “Slahn-cha.” You are now armed with a greeting and a toast to make this the most festive St Patty’s Day ever. I was hoping to share a list of Irish pubs in airports in case you are celebrating in transit, but I never set foot in airport bars (the uniform gets funny looks), and I’ve only seen one Irish pub that looked about as Irish as a taco. So instead, I countdown for you:

 

The Aviator’s Top 5 Irish Pubs (from my travels)

 

  1. The Irish Oak MG_6165-e1352754296879

Chicago, Illinois

Nestled a block from Wrigley Field sits a place I always hit up when in the Windy City. Chicago has one of the most famous St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world with a river dyed green to show you they mean business! The Irish Oak hits all the main points for a fun pub any day of the year though if you can’t make it there for the biggest green party of the year, with solid food, properly poured Guinness, and friendly staff. With a city full of pubs and Irish heritage it’s hard to stand out and yet they succeed-I can’t resist popping in on an overnight.

 

  1. James’s Gate

Boston, Massachusetts

A few minutes out of the downtown bustle in the Jamaica Plain district of Boston sits my favorite neighborhood pub and an Irish treat. Come here hungry! The food is really tasty and I recommend sitting at the bar to get to know the crowd. Every time I enjoy a pint here, I make a new friend and hear some great (and sometimes crazy stories). “This one time at Fenway…” has started more than one tale that left me needing another pint of the dark stuff with a smile on my face.

 

  1. The Chieftain

San Francisco, California

There’s something magical about a slightly grungy pub that screams ‘locals only’ before you even walk through the front door. A post-Giants baseball game stroll led me to this gem. Unless it is March 17th, don’t expect 375px-McSorley's_Old_Ale_House_001_cropa rowdy scene. Come for a cold one and top-notch people watching. In my experience visiting this bar was more memorable than the baseball game that night and has been each time since.

 

  1. McSorley’s Old Ale House

New York City, New York

Oh man! When I first heard a pilot friend of mine describe McSorley’s almost a decade ago I knew I had to go. Hop on the subway to the village, walk the few blocks through crisscrossing streets and find yourself stepping back in time. Here are the basics: It was established in 1854 and there are 2 types of beer (dark and lite,). It’s often crowded so don’t be deterred by the ambiance. There’s a funk of dish soap and the floor is covered in sawdust. But once you anchor a spot at the bar or share a table with some soon-to-be-new-friends this place has marked its spot in your heart. This place is old school: cash only, and women were only allowed in as of 1970. It’s a pub; it looks almost exactly like what my great grandfather saw a hundred years ago when he first visited New York after emigrating from Ireland to Philadelphia. It’s as real as it gets without the 7-hour ride across the pond to the homeland.

 

  1. Ha’penny Bridge Inn image-hapenny-bridge-2

Dublin, Ireland

You didn’t think I was going to give you a list of favorite Irish pubs without naming one in Ireland, did you?! Ha’penny Bridge Inn sits on the River Liffey in Dublin next to the Temple Bar district. Do yourself a favor and see Temple Bar. See all the famous names and pretty facades. Then go here and get your drink. I was fortunate to have a local recommend that to me. I now buy that local a pint of Magners any time I’m in Dublin. He isn’t just a friend, but my patron saint of great pubs with low tourism and a high local vibe. Thanks Finn! I won’t describe this place at all.

Just go. Enjoy the real Ireland. Don’t be a loud American with a million questions. The Irish hate questions. They love stories and having a good crack. That’s slang for jokes and teasing your friends.

 

Slainte from the flight deck!

The Aviator

From A to X…that’s ATL to LAX; the Airports Business Travelers Know All Too Well

From A to X…that’s ATL to LAX; the Airports Business Travelers Know All Too Well

My flight is touching down for landing. It has been a smooth flight; thankfully I was able to catch some Z’s since I have been sick as of late and run down. I don’t have much time when I land at MSP; I have a two and a half hour drive to lovely La Crosse, Wisconsin-my final destination. The good news is that when I return to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP) tomorrow, I will have an hour or so to relax and visit some of my favorite places in the airport. Think: Minnesota Wild Sports Bar for some amazing Bavarian Pretzel Sticks.  Or Brookstone-who doesn’t love the latest gadget and a free massage by chair?Drink in airport that offers international airport wifi in Dallas Fort Worth

While the fact that I have favorite places at airports is more of a statement about my work/life balance these days, it is imperative to know these places to keep me sane on the road (and tarmac). Any business traveler can tell you that they have a list of their favorite airports, a list of airports that they frequent (which hopefully match the previously mentioned list) and a list of airports they aim to avoid if at all possible. When you fly a lotyou spend an inordinate amount of time in the terminal, waiting. And although staying glued to the mobile phone is and/or laptop is always an option, sometimes I want need to disconnect. If you are like me, this parlays itself into keeping a running tab on where to go during your layover for eating, drinking and shopping. That’s why one of the ten commandments of the business traveler is: Know Thy Airport.

Here is a roster of airports that I transit through most frequently (you will probably start seeing tips from me about these airports, so stay tuned!):

I bet many other frequent business travelers in the United States have a similar list.  It isn’t any surprise that most of these are major airline hubs, consequentlyI am usually connecting through them to my final destination to visit my customers. I know them well given the time I spend in them. The good news is that this frequency creates time for me to be the consumer I always strive to be-trying new foods, seeking out new items to surprise my family with as an offering for my time away.

What is it inside of us that makes us want to know these places so well? There is a story that I always tell that lends itself to the comfortability of business travel. I once had a hiatus from traveling due to company budget cuts. As any business traveler knows, nearing the end of the fiscal year you probably won’t see many airports, as companies aim to improve the bottom line. After this break from the travel lifestyle, on my first trip back throughSt. Louis airport (STL) . I sent my brother a text message, Starbucks in hand, telling him how oddly comfortable I felt sitting at the airport and that I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or just plain sad.

A man waiting at Atlanta International Airport.

Waiting at the Airport

All joking aside, there is some validity to that feeling – the same reason I stay at Marriott properties almost exclusively when I travel for business – I want to be comfortable somewhere that feels familiar and that I know well, if I can’t be home with my wife and kids.  I remember I used to hear frequent traveling friends referring to airports by code and thinking, “Wow, that is so confusing… can’t they just call it San Fransisco instead of SFO?” Nowadays, I find myself talking of my travels and sounding like I am helping my kids learn the alphabet. I just hope that I don’t teach them the wrong order when I actually do help them with their homework:

Addison: “Daddy, what comes after A?”

Daddy: “T-L honey…”

Like I said, it is human nature to want to be comfortable. Whether it is flying to the same airports and knowing the terminals well, or it is trying your darndest to fly with your favorite airline. OK, so maybe it is the sense of comfortability and the acquisition of frequent flier miles. Hey, a guy has to pay the family back for all of that time away with fun vacations. Am I right? Spring break at MCO(Orlando), here we come!!! Oh wait… we’re driving. No problem, I will use my airline miles for the hotel!

The Flying Salesman

Sweet Valentine’s Day Treats for Your Valentine Sweet

Sweet Valentine’s Day Treats for Your Valentine Sweet

How sweet it is to be loved by you! This is your pilot speaking.

Valentine’s Day is this weekend and for those of us on the tarmac, time might be limited to find that special someone a little treat. I’ve compiled a list of places in major airports around the U.S. where you can find something special if time is tight. I have a bit of a sweet tooth and have first hand experience at most of these places. If I missed a favorite spot of yours I apologies. The list below is meant to also showcase something only found at that airport. There are two exceptions in The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Dylan’s Candy Bar which have franchises around the country. Rocky Mountain is your classic confectionery with treats for ever taste. Dylan’s offers a large selection of favorite brand name candies that you can 4314-Truffles36_79881_01v1Wmix and match as well as pre made gift boxes. A special note on Dylan’s: If you ever find yourself just east of Central Park in New York City you will find the flagship store that offers 4 stories of candy heaven. And if you happen to be flying internationally, don’t forget you can always find delicious limited edition Godiva Belgian chocolates at Duty Free Stores everywhere. Enjoy and safe travels as always!

The Aviator

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Beats Executive: Headphones for the exclusive traveler (InMotion locations)

Beats Executive: Headphones for the exclusive traveler (InMotion locations)

The Beats Executive headphones will take you from the boardroom to the jet lounge. The legendary sound quality of these headphones has been redesigned with the traveler in mind for this set. They balance noise canceling technology with comfort needed for transatlantic flights, and the signature Beats by Dr. Dre sound profile. This Executive box includes batteries, audio cable, airline adapter, Apple remote microphone, hard shell carrying case and a Beats by Dr. Dre cleaning cloth. More

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