Guide to Surviving Your Next Airport Layover
Stuck at ORD, DFW, or ATL? Here are a few things to do!
With the holidays approaching, you are likely to spend more time traveling by air than you usually do. That means one thing: layovers are in your future. While some of us are lucky enough to have direct flights or short stops, many will have to deal with hours spent in unfamiliar terminals on their way to visit friends and family. Below are some of the more frequent stops when flying out of Denver, and how to survive your time there.
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Chicago O’Hare has 4 terminals, numbered 1, 2, 3, and, oddly enough, 5. Each terminal is decorated by Chicago’s Public Art Program and features pieces from local artists and sculptors. If you’ve brought your kids along, they’ll love the Kids on the Fly play area, with model airplanes and a control tower. They’ll also be wowed by the 72-foot Brachiosaurus fossil model and World War II plane in Terminals 1 and 2, respectively. For adults, there are spas in Terminals 1, 3, and 5, and the Yoga Room in Terminal 3 is open from 6 am to 10 pm. For shoppers, Terminals 1 and 3 are your best options. Play with the toys at Brookstone or indulge your sweet tooth at Vosages Haut-Chocolat. For higher-end goods, take transit to Terminal 5, where you’ll find Salvatore Ferragmo and Emporio Armani locations. O’Hare features typical fast food everywhere you go, McDonald’s, pizza, and Auntie Anne’s pretzels. Terminals 1, 2, and 3 have locations from local brewery Goose Island Beer Company. For international foods, try Terminal 5, where you’ll find a number of Asian and Italian restaurants. If you’re stuck on an extended layover, the L train’s Blue Line takes you straight downtown!
Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW)
If you’re going to spend more than a couple of hours in DFW, it’s worth it to enter The Club at DFW – you don’t need a membership or elite flier status, just $35 and you’re in the door. Inside you’ll find free drinks and snacks, WIFI, TVs, and even showers if you’d like. If the Club isn’t your thing, head to Terminal D, the airport’s newest terminal, where you’ll find the best restaurants and shops. Cantina Laredo is a wonderful restaurant that features the best Tex-Mex you can get at DFW. If your layover has you going stir-crazy and you need some fresh air, exit the terminal and head to DFW’s Founders’ Plaza. It’s the perfect way to kill time on a nice day, as there are picnic tables and telescopes you can use to watch incoming planes – see if you can spot your next flight coming in!
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL)
Hartsfield-Jackson is one of the busiest airports in the country, so even with a longer layover you may be rushing to make your connecting flight. If you have time, though, there’s a lot to explore. ATL’s seven concourses (T, A, B, C, D, E, and F) are all connected, so you won’t have to go through security to wander around to any of them. With so many concourses, it’s no wonder that there’s a wide variety of shops and restaurants to visit. The airport’s website has a searchable Store Finder to view all of the shopping and dining options. Most options will be typical fast or fast-casual restaurants; however, One Flew South in Concourse E is worth your attention. It’s less an “airport restaurant” than a place you’d visit at home for farm-to-table meals – they even serve sushi. Beyond the shopping and dining, you can browse art created by Atlanta’s youth, along with a display of stone sculptures from Zimbabwe as well as more traditional art. Travel can be one of the most stressful parts of the holidays, and other than a flight delay, layovers are often the biggest stressor. Instead of considering your next layover a hassle, look at it as an opportunity to explore – you’ll change your mindset and your travels will be a bit more enjoyable. Want more information about DIA? Our guide to DIA dining options might be helpful for your next trip!