As US travel restrictions ease, Mayor Lightfoot touts new features at Chicago airports

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's spring break season, and Chicago airports are busy. Travel numbers are already rivaling pre-pandemic figures.

Monday morning, the city announced new features at O'Hare and Midway to ease some of those travel troubles.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are back," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday morning at O'Hare.

The city of Chicago is ready to welcome travelers through its airports once again.

"In December of 2021, O'Hare saw a 124% increase in passengers compared to December of 2020," Lightfoot said.

Midway also saw a 56.9% increase in passengers in that same timeframe.

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As spring and summer travel begins, the Chicago Department of Aviation is highlighting improvements at both Chicago airports.

Nine new vendors will now offer 24-hour vending machines, filled with healthy prepared food and beverages, electronics, cosmetics, toys and baby items.

"The 70 vending machines will be placed throughout the airports, multiple machines by each vendor" Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said.

"We can't go build a robust recovery without making sure that our local small businesses have a stake in that rebirth, and the airports have to do their part," the mayor added.

The city is also launching a welcome campaign, titled "What We're Made Of" that will be displayed on TV monitors, screens and banners throughout O'Hare and Midway, showcasing Chicago's public beaches, parks, iconic museums and, of course, hot dog stands.

All of this is to get people to travel again. Numbers already show that people are in fact taking to the skies -- a big boost the U.S. airline industry needed after losing tens of billions of dollars the past two years of the pandemic.
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