Flight Review: Air Choice One, Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Burlington, Iowa (BRL)

Disclaimer: In exchange for writing a review for the airline Air Choice One, I was offered a round-trip flight between Chicago and Burlington, Iowa.

After a recent move to the Chicago area, I started to feel excited about different airlines and routes to try, albeit departing mostly from the less-than-pleasant – if very convenient by public transit – O’Hareport.

Enter, St. Louis, Missouri-based Air Choice One.  They’re a small regional carrier with bases in Minneapolis and Chicago, and fly throughout the Midwest and a small part of the Southeastern US.  Their fleet consists of Cessna 208 Caravans’ and Beechcraft 1900s’, with both being propeller aircraft.  Best of all, their customer service is top notch.  Paula, Lexie, Dorothy, and Kimberly were all very proactive and eager to help work around my confusing schedule.  Kudos to all of them!

Now, let’s get on with the flights!  At Chicago O’Hare, Air Choice One check-in is close to security checkpoint 9 at Terminal 3:

Check-in was fast, and the folks had to weigh each passenger to determine where to seat them on the 9-seat Cessna 208 Caravan:

As you can see, there was no jetbridge leading to the flight; however, I appreciated this as it allowed for better photos.

To Burlington, Iowa, the flight took roughly 1.5 hours.  Along the way, we passed by this marvel of western Illinois:

By marvel, I really have no idea what I mean.  Perhaps it’s a relic from the days of Forgottonia?

As you might imagine, Burlington’s airport felt like the complete opposite of O’Hare- relaxed, one small terminal building, and very close to downtown.

For those history buffs, Burlington was officially founded in 1833, and was the first capital of what became Iowa Territory.  With an excellent location right on a Mississippi River bend, it was a major steamboat and train depot.  It is also widely believed that Iowa’s nickname “The Hawkeye State” came from a local resident.  More recently, Burlington was the site of the US’s first Aldi supermarket.

I had a few hours before my flight back – and I stress that both flights were on-time, in spite of them both involving the behemoth O’Hare – so I decided to wander around Burlington–

This downtown street is called Snake Alley, arguably one of the most crooked roads in the world.  Eat your heart out, Lombard Street.

From the city center, I wandered down South Main Street, which runs parallel to the Mississippi River and its two iconic bridges towards leafy Crapo Park, known for its diverse collection of trees.  Lunch was at The Buffalo Tavern, where I enjoyed a pork tenderloin sandwich, and Davenport, Iowa’s Front Street Cherry Blonde ale.

The airport was a short walk from the park, and I had already checked-in that morning.  The flight back took roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes, offering quality views of the US’s top skyline (the New Yorker in me gives deference to their skyline; their pizza, however is another story) as we u-turned over Lake Michigan for our sunset approach to Chicago.

Overall, I had a great outing with Air Choice One, and would highly recommend them for their customer service, regional Midwest expertise, and ease of booking on their website!

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