Give yourself lots of time during airport layovers

  • October 6, 2012 - 2:40 PM

As I write this, I am in Chicago, where I've just seen a dinosaur skeleton that soars to the ceiling and now am dining on famed restaurateur Rick Bayless' tortilla soup and a salad with roasted poblano peppers. Did I mention the lime agua fresca? Funny thing, I'm not really in the city. Just at O'Hare's Concourse B, which includes offshoots of both Frontera Grill and the Field Museum. I'm as relaxed as a person can be during a day of flying.

My experience is about the polar opposite of one a colleague had recently at the same airport. A delay on his first flight left him dashing through O'Hare to his assigned gate, where they were closing the doors to his connecting flight to Minneapolis. It was late at night and, after polite insistence, he was given a hotel room -- a $100 taxi ride away.

Plenty of circumstances fed into that scenario, but he could have avoided one of the major causes. He'd given himself a mere 45 minutes between flights.

Hate to blame the victim, but that's something no one should never do -- in any airport, let alone a sprawling and busy one such as O'Hare. In this day of filled airplanes, if you don't make your flight, chances aren't good that the airline will be able to quickly accommodate you on another.

Too bad my colleague had to learn that the hard way. It's a wonder airlines still offer such connections on their websites, but they do. In fact, I had a 45-minute option I could have booked with a simple click of the mouse. I opted for the 2 1/2-hour layover instead, and it's made all the difference. I'm signing off now. Want to finish sipping that delicious lime drink.

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.

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