Everyone who travels through Chicago will tell you about the tunnel that connects Concourses B and C in O’Hare’s Terminal 1. First, you descend by escalator, and then you find yourself on a moving sidewalk, surrounded by neon lights and soothing music. There’s something oddly calming about it. It’s a sight-and-sound transition into the air world—almost like a dissolve in a movie. This moment of escape, being en route, is what George Clooney’s character experiences so often in Up in the Air, and I wanted to capture that feeling.
“As a kid, I used to go to movie theaters to be alone, and now I cherish time by myself in airports. Air travel is the last refuge for people who enjoy being alone. As soon as I go through security, I’m surrounded by strangers. My only companion is the person in seat 17J—you find out about occupations, even life philosophies. You have conversations you would never have in any other place.
“Only citizens of the air world can be present in the Terminal 1 tunnel. You’re carried along on moving sidewalks between concourses, people are coming or going, and it isn’t just the way it looks but the way it sounds. The architect decided not just to connect two buildings by a tunnel, but to incorporate a specifically designed musical score that takes you from one place to another. It was a brave decision.”
Reitman’s latest film since Juno, Up in the Air, which follows a man (George Clooney) on a mission to reach 10 million frequent-flier miles, is in theaters now.