Chicago's O'Hare Airport is adding more options for travelers searching for food, travel supplies or a quiet place to work — all set up to allow for “touchless” 24/7 purchases.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the City Council's Aviation Committee approved the new concessions agreements on Thursday.
Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said the upgraded vending machines offer an alternative to sit-down dining that some travelers will not be comfortable using as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The options include machines offering fresh popcorn, healthier food items and essentials for people traveling with young children.
“We needed to have more diversification in the offerings that we had,” Rhee said during Thursday's meeting. “Some folks are gonna still want that sit-down restaurant. That’s what they’re gonna stick to. Others are not as comfortable and may love to use some of these alternatives. I don’t think it’s ever gonna be one-size-fits-all.”
Latino aldermen voted against the plan, though, protesting the low number of Hispanic-owned firms among the selected companies.
Rhee said both Latino-owned firms that applied were selected and said she also was frustrated by that number.
The agreements also call for the addition of 10 “privacy work stations" around the airport.
Chief commercial officer Amber Ritter described these stations as a modern phone booth, with access to a private space with a desk, Wi-Fi and a charging station.
“You can plug in to do your work if you need to get some business done or have some phone calls that are in private,” Ritter said. “These are things that are becoming very popular as people are, sort of, working in a more mobile way.”