Terminal Silhouettes: Redrawn ORD with Concourse L Stinger

ORD

ORD.svg

Chicago O’Hare was one of the first terminal silhouettes I drew. While I generally like how it turned out, I’ve learned a lot of techniques from the dozens of terminals I’ve drawn since then. For a while, I’ve wanted to redraw ORD from scratch and try to recreate a better version of it.

Earlier this year, ORD opened an expansion to Terminal 3/Concourse L, adding another five gates (L20–L24). I’d watched its construction progress from the windows of the old Concourse L, and first got to walk through it in April.

2018-04-27 16.51.53

With this extra expansion, my terminal silhouette was now out of date. With CLT (which I also recently updated for a concourse expansion) I simply edited the drawing; however, with ORD, I decided to use this as my opportunity to redraw the silhouette from scratch.

ORD Diff

I learned a few things from my new drawing.

First, I’d always assumed that the entrances to Terminals 1, 2, and 3 (labeled below) formed half of a regular hexagon around the passenger drop-off/pick-up loops, which would mean that the terminals had 120° angles between them. However, T1 and T2 formed a 115° angle, and T2 and T3 were only at 110°. This also means that despite my prior assumptions, concourses B and C are not quite parallel with concourses F, G, and H.

ORD Terminals and Concourses

Second, I was able to confirm that the two Y-shaped concourses (E/F in Terminal 2, and H/K in Terminal 3) were basically identical in size, other than that the arms of H/K were longer. I was actually able to copy and paste E/F to create H/K, with relatively minimal modifications required.

I still think that O’Hare is one of my favorite terminal shapes. The layout has a lot of instances of symmetry while still having each terminal manage to be completely unique, and it manages to fit a lot of gates in a relatively small area in a way that’s entirely pleasing to my eyes. I had a lot of fun recreating this silhouette.

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No, I’m Not Flying from Honolulu

Next spring, I’m planning to go on a two-week European vacation with Amy.

I had a number of United miles saved up – not quite enough for two round trips to Europe, but enough to get us each a one way itinerary to Munich (our first destination). Airlines like to make it difficult to redeem miles at the advertised rates unless you book well in advance, so we cashed in the miles this week and got a pair of one-way tickets from Chicago to Munich, operated by United’s Star Alliance partner Air Canada with a layover in Toronto.

On a ticket like that, I have to select my seats on Air Canada’s website, since they’re the ones actually operating the flight. United provided me record locator for our Air Canada itinerary – one of those six-letter-and-number identifiers that you use to look up your flight.

I went to Air Canada’s website to pick my seats, plugged in that record locator… and was a bit surprised by the itinerary I saw:

Booking

In addition to the two 2016 flights that I’d bought, there were two additional flights booked in 2015, showing a trip from Honolulu to San Francisco to Toronto. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting!

This was a bit concerning to me, as I had no intention to go to Hawaii this month – and I was worried that if I didn’t show up for the first flight, my whole itinerary would be cancelled. I called Air Canada, but they told me I’d have to check with United, since United sold me the ticket.

Fortunately, the United agent I spoke to was very helpful. After looking into it with me, she was able to figure out that I’d been issued a record locator that was already in use.

Well, I understood that – with six digits that each have 36 possibilities (A-Z and 0-9), there are 366 = 2,176,782,336 possible combinations. That’s a lot of records, but it’s not infinite, and I can understand that eventually some numbers would have to be reused. The agent let me know that usually they try to wait a while before reusing a booking number, and it’s usually not a problem because they normally look up reservations by booking number and last name.

So it appears that of two billion booking number possibilities, I was assigned one that was not just in use, but also in use by someone else who also has the last name Bogard.

What’re the odds of that?

Anyway, once we figured out that their computer was seeing four flights with the same record locator and last name and assuming they were one itinerary, the United agent was able to cancel my half of the flights off of that existing reservations and rebooked my tickets on Air Canada, giving me a new record locator that (thankfully) appears to be unused by any other Bogards!

Terminal Silhouettes: ORD

ORD

ORD.svg

I really like how O’Hare looks in silhouette form.

To be honest, O’Hare is the primary reason behind my decision to start my terminal silhouette project. It’s my third most visited airport, and although in reality it’s obnoxiously crowded, I really conceptually like the terminal layout. Even before I began this project, I’d often find myself doodling ORD concourses, which I’ve long since memorized.

My Airport History: Frankfurt (FRA)

Flight Log: http://www.flighthistorian.com/airports/FRA

The vast majority of my travel is within the United States, so Frankfurt remains the sole international airport in my flight log to date. I’ve certainly been to others – I grew up with Air Force parents and have lived in both Germany and the United Kingdom, but both were when I was much younger, and I don’t particularly remember the airports.

I think the biggest thing that surprised me was that, while it was a big airport, it wasn’t as big as I expected. It’s hard to remember, when I routinely fly through ORD and DFW, how big those airports truly are; they’ve become my normal “major hub” baseline, and I’m comparing everything to them.

2014 Year in Travel

2014 has been a record travel year.

2014 Flights

2014 Flight Map

I have flown on 86 flights this year, which has been my best year yet.

2014-flight

In particular, the last four months of the year have had me traveling about three weeks a month; I’m on a high stakes program at work, and it’s been a particularly busy travel time for that program.

2014 Hotel Nights

2014-hotel

Hotel nights are up this year, too. From 2011 through 2013, I was doing a respectable amount of travel, but the phase of my program combined with budget cuts (and the 2013 federal furloughs and shutdown) had a serious effect on the number of nights I spent on the road. However, I moved to a higher priority program in mid-2013, so while our budget still isn’t great, the priority of the program and the acquisition phase we’re in means that mission-critical travel has climbed back up. In addition, I’ve had far more personal hotel nights this year than usual, an effect of taking a good number of weekend trips when I got the chance, plus a true vacation in the summer.

These stays ended up being:

  • 97 nights in Hilton brands
  • 2 nights in Marriott brands (a stay at the Gaylord Opryland)
  • 1 night in Wyndham brands (American Airlines put me up at a Baymont at the Charlotte airport)
  • 6 nights in a VRBO vacation home in Flagstaff I rented with some friends this summer
  • 1 night in military base lodging

New Airports

I’ve visited six new airports this year:

This put me at 54 total airports visited out of my 100 airport goal. I’m over halfway there!

Elite Status

End of Year Status 2014

I was able to reclaim Hilton HHonors Diamond this year – in fact, I hit the 60 nights required for Diamond in September, and ended the year with 96 elite-qualifying nights. In addition, I was able to hit United MileagePlus Gold for the first time (in fact, it’s the first time I’ve hit the second tier on any airline’s program).

Of Note

I had six unexpected overnight stays this year:

My Airport History: Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)

DFW

Flight Log: http://www.flighthistorian.com/airports/DFW

DFW is one of the first airports I became especially familiar with, and it’s now one of my favorite layover airports.

Initially, I wasn’t using DFW for layovers at all; my new job had a contractor near Dallas that we had to visit frequently, and so I made quite a few trips to Dallas as a destination.

American Airlines, with their enormous hub there, was the only airline to offer a direct flight there, and they were my employer’s preferred carrier for DAY – DFW. Thus, my first frequent flier elite status came with American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, and once I earned that, I began to focus on using American when I did have a choice of airlines. Since, at the time, American only served Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago-O’Hare from Dayton, I ended up with DFW as a layover on a good portion of my westbound flights.

Dallas becomes the first airport at which I have a single flight round trip

In February 2013, I had a trip to Austin, with a layover at DFW in both directions. On my outbound flight from DFW to Austin, our pilot came onto the intercom and nonchalantly informed us that the plane on fire outside the right windows is nothing to be alarmed about.

He was absolutely correct; at DFW, they have a fire department aircraft trainer – what looks like an old aircraft, which can be set on fire so that the fire department can practice putting it out. I’ve seen these trainers at a number of airports, but I hadn’t yet seen one in use.

On the return trip, I boarded what I believed to be my final flight of the day at DFW, expecting to fly back to Dayton. Instead, about a half hour into the flight, the lights flickered; a few minutes later, the crew informed us that the aircraft had experienced a generator failure, and while they had a backup, we were going to return to DFW for safety. When we landed and deplaned, I could see from the concourse that a number of DFW fire trucks had followed us back to our gate.

DFW-Fire-Trucks

I don’t know if the problem was worse than the crew let on, or if all the fire trucks were a precautionary measure, but at least I knew the fire crews were well trained.