ohare-toiletChicago’s O’Hare International is one of the world’s busiest airports. It can be an intimidating place. But there are some cool things about it. Starting with the toilets.

Self-Cleaning Toilets at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

Well, they’re sort of self-cleaning. The toilets have these special seats with a plastic covering. You wave your hand over the little green light and it unrolls a new seat covering. No more pulling out those wispy paper things that never really cover the seat anyway and do nothing to protect your hiney from the drips left behind by the previous occupant. (I know. Ewww.) And, in case the whole process seems a little challenging, there’s a handy-dandy instruction manual pasted on the latrine wall, with the directions in both pictures and words.

OHare Art1O’Hare Can Be Pretty

While most of the airport is crowded and utilitarian, there are some surprising touches, like this mural in the basement walkway. You pass it on the way to the Blue Line subway, which gets you downtown for $2.25 in less than an hour.

OHare terminalAnd there’s this psychedelic display on the lower level walkway between United Airline’s B and C concourse. The moving walkway makes the trip a little easier and the overhead neon lights make it a little more enjoyable.

O’Hare Is Environmentally Responsible

OHare water fountainThese cool water fountains are for refilling your water bottle after you get through security. They are sensor-activated and there’s an LED readout in the corner telling you how many water bottles are NOT headed to a landfill because of this refill station. Even if it wasn’t environmentally responsible, I’d like these refill stations because using one of them sure beats trying to fill a water bottle from a water fountain.

Shopping at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

Like most airports, O’Hare’s corridors are lined with restaurants and shops. I was surprised to find this Brookstone kiosk sells my favorite hard-sided suitcase for just about what I paid for mine. No big airport mark-up.

Who buys suitcases at the airport, you ask? Well, I did once. The wheel on my roll-aboard broke. So I stopped into a store, grabbed a new suitcase, plopped down my credit card and found a quiet corner where I could surreptitiously transfer my unmentionables from the broken bag to the shiny new one.

Airport security kid signIt’s Getting Easier to Go through Security at O’Hare

The security lines at O’Hare are never short, but the new TSA rules are making it easier, at least for families traveling with children under 12. True, this rule is not unique to O’Hare, but given the legendary long security lines at one of the world’s busiest airport, it does make tough traveling a little bit easier.