- ...The nation's roughly 34 airports with chapels cater to a mixed community with a changing range of faith needs, according to the Rev. John A. Jamnicky, former chaplain of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and a 20-year veteran of travel ministry.
He said airport chapels date back to the 1940s when the explosion of commercial aviation, combined with a surplus of military chaplains home from World War II, gave church leaders the idea to mix faith with flying. The first known airport chapel was opened in 1951 at Boston's Logan International Airport, according to the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains.
It started a trend. Over time, airport chapels became largely Catholic in northern cities like Chicago and New York, and Protestant in southern cities like Atlanta and Dallas, Jamnicky said.
As travelers become more numerous and more diverse, Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports now advertise prayer rugs and special Muslim facilities. Chapels created at airports in Norfolk, Va., and Tulsa, Okla., in the last decade have been interfaith. And in Cleveland, airport officials have discussed toning down the Catholic orientation of the airport's ornate chapel.