Lately, I have been really frustrated with air travel in the USA, there was time not long ago when flying seemed somewhat sophisticated and at the very least an exciting part of your journey, not just something to get through as quickly as possible. Things had already started to change at the turn of the century but when some religious fundamentalists decided to ram a few planes into a few building flying got decidedly worse. Not only are we now forced to take off our shoes, divide our condiments and toiletries into 3 oz bottles but we are also led into winding lines to have security remove items that I find very necessary to travel, a bottle of wine, water in my reusable bottle, or coffee brewed at my home and mixed with almond milk and agave nectar.
I hate flying now. A few weeks ago I flew from Austin Texas to St. Louis Missouri and due to circumstances beyond my control I made it to the airport hungry and with no food! The Austin Airport is great for many different reasons and one aspect you have to give them credit for is that there are no national chains that aren’t Austin Homegrown. We even have outposts from our own bars that have live music at the airport. The downside of this is that Amy’s Ice Cream, The Salt Lick Barbeque, Matt’s El Rancho, and all the rest don’t have anything close to a vegan option. Don’t worry dairy fans! There is plenty of cheesy, eggy options up and down the concourse but, my god, I couldn’t find a luna bar to save my life! Even the trail mix had dairy. The low point was at Austin Java when I asked if they had peanut butter or hummus or jelly for their bagels. Nope. Just 17 different kinds of cream cheese. Flying out of St. Louis was even worse because I had bought a 10 dollar jar of what was promised to be the best sesame paste of my life from a little local shop. I thought about making dinner with it before I left but I figured since it was in a factory sealed jar I would be OK. You would think that having once been taken to a little room and questioned by several agents because I had the audacity to try to carry on a wine bottle opener would have taught me a lesson but alas I often think with my stomach instead of my brain and I tried to get it through, fought with a security agent, and nearly missed my plane.
So this time, flying out of Chicago, I was prepared for the worst. I carried with me pita bread, edamame, 3 oz of hummus, olives, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a package of dehydrated miso soup. (I should note here that I have been trapped in Chicago for days on end due to wind) It turns out that all of my preparation was entirely unnecessary. O’Hare, it turns out, has more vegan options than my home town! Everywhere I turned in terminal K I saw portobello sandwiches, smoothies with milk OR juice, soy milk creamer, salt and vinegar chips, rice and bean breakfasts, tomato soup, fried mushrooms, and yes luna bars.
Houston, by the way, was a different scene altogether.
So the morale of the story is that if you are going to get stuck this holiday season (and you will after paying for your carry on luggage and a million fees) you shouldn’t be afraid of getting stuck at O’Hare. Wander over to terminal K and feel like a normal person as you order from whatever restaurant you want because it seemed like they all had something. And if you get bored check out the weird rainbow moving sidewalk trippper’s paradise between the terminals. It amazed me as a little kid and it still puts me into a state of wonder every time I happen through. And please remember on those moving side walks that if you are going to just stand there, stay to the right!