Book Your Ticket for the Chicago Experience

New commissioner wants to increase revenue, give airport local feel.

Call your out-of-town friends. Tell them to book a flight. Soon, they may be able to experience Chicago...without ever having to leave the airport. 

Aviation commissioner Richard Rodriguez wants to bring more of the Chicago feel to Midway and O'Hare.

City airport profits have been steadily declining, due to fewer flights and passengers. Fewer travelers means less money collected from not just airline tickets, but also parking spaces, car rentals, and airport concessions. Rodriguez was hired by Mayor Daley six months ago to manage the airports, which account for 17 percent of the city's revenue.

"Operationally at the airports, we are going to have to take a look at some of the services we provide our customers and find out what exactly is it that we can do without," Rodriguez said in an interview.

Rodriguez would like to see more Chicago artwork on the walls and perhaps local live bands in the concourses. But for now, he is concentrating on the concessions areas.

"We are such a diverse city, but we don't have a Thai restaurant at the airports. We don't have a vegetarian or vegan or Caribbean restaurant," he told the Chicago Tribune.

Rodriguez would like to expose more of Chicago's local culture to the airports' travelers, hopefully inspiring them to spend more money at the airports.

Good luck convincing visitors to spend $20 on a chicken sandwich.

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