Plan to add contactless food and retail options at O’Hare Airport


Chicago’s O’Hare Airport adds more options for travelers looking for food, travel supplies, or a quiet place to work, all configured to allow 24-hour ‘contactless’ shopping and 7 days a week.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the city council’s aviation committee on Thursday approved the new concession agreements.

Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said the upgraded vending machines provide an alternative to sit-down meals that some travelers won’t be comfortable using as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Options include machines offering fresh popcorn, healthier foods, and essentials for people traveling with young children.

“We needed to have more diversification in the offerings that we had,” Rhee said at Thursday’s meeting. “Some people will still want this sit down restaurant. This is what they are going to stick to. Others are not as comfortable and may like to use some of these alternatives. I don’t think it will ever be a one size fits all.

Latino aldermen voted against the plan, however, protesting the low number of Hispanic-owned businesses among the selected companies.

Rhee said the two Latino-owned companies that applied were selected and said she was frustrated with that number as well.

The agreements also provide for the addition of 10 “private workstations” around the airport.

Sales manager Amber Ritter described these stations as a modern phone booth, with access to a private area with a desk, Wi-Fi and a charging station.

“You can log in to do your job if you need to do business or make private phone calls,” Ritter said. “These are things that are becoming very popular because people are sort of working in a more mobile way.”


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