Travelers anticipating an eight-hour international flight now can nosh on something more sophisticated than a sandwich in plastic wrap while waiting at O'Hare International Airport.
The Chicago Department of Aviation unveiled a makeover of its International Terminal 5 Friday that offers 24 new shops and restaurants as well as a more streamlined security checkpoint.
Up until now, passengers had to grab food, newspapers or coffee prior to check-in, with few amenities available while waiting to board their flights.
The renovations, done in partnership with The Westfield Group, include modernized washrooms, more comfortable lounges with outlets and USB ports, and better signage.
Restaurants include Chicago chef Rick Bayless' Tortas Frontera, Hub 51's upscale American fare, Wow Bao's hot Asian buns and R.J. Grunts Burger & Fries. Fliers needing a jolt of caffeine can sip Intelligentsia coffee at Kofe or pick up snacks at the gourmet shop, The Goddess and Grocer.
Among the posh new boutiques are Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Swatch, I Love Chicago (which features local artwork) and Salvatore Ferragamo, with Armani and Michael Kors shops opening later this year.
The upgrades are the first since the terminal opened in 1993. The extra retail is expected to double sales in the terminal from about $25 million in 2011 to more than $50 million in 2016.
The face-lift will "provide a world-class experience for millions of visitors from around the globe who travel through O'Hare as their first and last impression of Chicago," Department of Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino said.