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O'Hare International Airport
O'Hare International Airport (USGS).png
Airport type Public
Owner City of Chicago
Operator Chicago Airport System
Serves Chicago, Illinois, USA
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 668 ft / 204 m
Coordinates 41°58′43″N 087°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472Coordinates: 41°58′43″N 087°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4L/22R 7,500 2,286 Asphalt
4R/22L 8,075 2,461 Asphalt
9L/27R 7,500 2,286 Concrete
9R/27L 7,967 2,428 Asphalt/Concrete
10/28 13,000 3,962 Asphalt/Concrete
14L/32R 10,005 3,050 Asphalt
14R/32L 13,000 3,962 Asphalt/Concrete
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 200 61 Concrete
Statistics (2009)
Passenger volume 64,397,782
Sources: FAA[1] and airport's website.[2]

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORDICAO: KORDFAA LID: ORD), also known as O'Hare Airport, O'Hare Field, or simply O'Hare, is a major airport located in the northwestern-most corner of Chicago, Illinois, United States, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of the Chicago Loop. It serves as the primary and largest hub for United Airlines and as a hub for American Airlines. It is operated by the City of Chicago Department of Aviation, associated with an umbrella regional authority.

In 2008, the airport had 881,566 aircraft operations, an average of 2,409 per day (64% scheduled commercial, 33% air taxi, 3% general aviation and <1% military).[1] O'Hare International Airport is the fourth busiest airport in the world with 64,397,782 passengers passing through the airport in 2009, a -9.07% change from 2008.[3] O'Hare has a strong international presence, with flights to more than 60 foreign destinations. O'Hare is the fourth busiest international gateway in the United States with only John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Los Angeles International Airport and Miami International Airport serving more international passengers.

O’Hare International Airport has been voted the "Best Airport in North America" for 10 years, by readers of the U.S. Edition of Business Traveler Magazine (1998–2003) and Global Traveler Magazine (2004–2007).[4]

Most of O'Hare Airport is in Cook County, but a section of the southwest part of the airport is in DuPage County.

Although O'Hare is Chicago's primary airport, Chicago Midway International Airport, the city's second airport, is about 10 miles (16 km) closer to the Loop, the main business and financial district.



The airport was constructed between 1942 and 1943, as a manufacturing plant for Douglas C-54s during World War II. The site was chosen for its proximity to the city and transportation. The two million square-foot (180,000 m²) factory needed easy access to the workforce of the nation's then-second-largest city, as well as its extensive railroad infrastructure. Orchard Place was a small pre-existing community in the area and the airport was known during the war as Orchard Place Airport/Douglas Field (hence the location identifier ORD). The facility was also the site of the Army Air Force's 803 Special Depot, which stored many rare or experimental planes, including captured enemy aircraft. These historic aircraft would later be transferred to the National Air Museum, going on to form the core of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's collection.

Air Traffic Control Towers
The new FAA control tower (right) opened in early 1997. The old tower (left) is now used by the City of Chicago, to manage city vehicles engaged in ground operations.

Douglas Aircraft Company's contract ended in 1945 and though plans were proposed to build commercial aircraft, the company ultimately chose to concentrate production on the west coast. With the departure of Douglas, the airport took the name Orchard Field Airport. In 1945, the facility was chosen by the City of Chicago, as the site for a facility to meet future aviation demands.

Matthew Laflin Rockwell, (1915–1988) was the director of planning for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and responsible for the site selection and design of O'Hare International Airport. He was the great grandson of Matthew Laflin, a founder and pioneer of Chicago. Though its familiar three-letter IATA code ORD still reflects the early identity of the airport, it was renamed in 1949, after Lieutenant Commander Edward "Butch" O'Hare, USN, a World War II flying ace, who was awarded the Medal of Honor.

By the early 1950s, Chicago Midway International Airport, which had been the primary Chicago airport since 1931, had become too small and crowded, despite multiple expansions and was unable to handle the planned first generation of jets. The City of Chicago and the FAA began to develop O'Hare as the main airport for Chicago's future. The first commercial passenger flights were started there in 1955 and an international terminal was built in 1958, but the majority of domestic traffic did not move from Midway until completion of a 1962 expansion at O'Hare. The arrival of Midway's former traffic instantly made O'Hare the new World's Busiest Airport, serving 10 million passengers annually. Within two years, that number would double, with more people passing through O'Hare in 12 months than Ellis Island had processed in its entire existence. In 1997, annual passenger volume reached 70 million. As of February 2010, United serves its flagship hub with an average of just under 200 daily departures, but the carrier's utilization of O'Hare peaked in 1994.[5]

O'Hare Airport is municipally connected to the city of Chicago via a narrow strip of land, approximately 200 feet (61 m) wide, running along Higgins Rd, from the Des Plaines river to the airport. This land was annexed into the city limits in the 1950s, to assure the airport was contiguous with the city to keep it under city control and for the massive tax revenue. The strip is bounded on the north by Rosemont and the south by Schiller Park.[6] The CTA Blue Line was extended to the airport in 1984.


Terminal 1, Concourse B
American Airlines Terminal 3 Main Hall
Terminal 5 - International
Destinations with direct service from O'Hare

O'Hare has four operational passenger terminals: 1, 2, 3 and 5. Two or more additional terminal buildings are envisioned. There is the possibility of a large terminal complex for the west side of the field, with access from I-90 and/or the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, if the runway reconfiguration is completed.

United Airlines/United Express is the largest airline at O'Hare, carrying 48.79% of the passengers. American Airlines/American Eagle is the second largest carrying 39.89% of passengers.[7]

O'Hare has 182 aircraft gates throughout four Terminals (1, 2, 3, 5) and nine concourses (B, C, E, F, G, H, K, L, M).

Note: All international arrivals at O'Hare (except flights from destinations with border preclearance) are handled at Terminal 5.

Terminal 1

The original 1955 passenger terminal for international flights, was replaced with the modern Terminal 1, designed by Helmut Jahn, in 1987.

Terminal 1 has 51 Gates on two concourses:

  • Concourse B, with 22 gates
  • Concourse C, with 29 gates

United Airlines runs a post-security shuttle service between Concourse C (Gate C-9) and Concourses E & F (Gate E-2A).

United also operates four Red Carpet Clubs at O'Hare, three of which are in Terminal 1 (two in Concourse B, one in Concourse C). Also operated by United are a United First International Lounge and a United Arrivals Suite. Both are located in Concourse C.

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 was built in a large airport expansion in 1962, along with the original portion of Terminal 3. It was United's sole terminal until the current Terminal 1 was built. In the 1960s/70s/80s it served United, Ozark, Braniff, Eastern, Northwest, Continental and Piedmont. In addition to Concourses E/F (which remain today), there was also an 11-gate Concourse D, which was demolished to make room for new Terminal 1.

In November 2009, Delta Air Lines moved to Terminal 2 from its previous home at Terminal 3 to align its operations with Northwest Airlines. Continental Airlines has moved from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 as part of its move from SkyTeam to the Star Alliance and alliance with United Airlines. Continental, however, still maintains its check-in counters and baggage claim at Terminal 2.

United Airlines runs a Red Carpet Club in Terminal 2, near gate F3.

Terminal 2 has 30 gates on two concourses:

  • Concourse E, with 16 gates
  • Concourse F, with 14 gates
Terminal 3

Terminal 3 was also built in the 1962 capital program. During the 1960s, and pre-airline deregulation, Concourse G served TWA, with a few gates reserved for Air Canada. Concourse H & K served American and Delta while Concourse K also served the large "regional" carrier North Central (later known as Republic Airlines). Terminal 3 was significantly expanded in 1983, with the construction of Concourse L for Delta Air Lines, which was initially known as the "Delta Flight Center". Concourse L also handled some international departures until the completion of Terminal 5 in 1993. On November 17, 2009, Delta moved to Terminal 2 to consolidate with merger partner Northwest Airlines.

Terminal 3 has 80 Gates on four concourses:

  • Concourse G, with 26 gates
  • Concourse H, with 21 gates
  • Concourse K, with 22 gates
  • Concourse L, with 11 gates

Concourse L is the smallest concourse in Terminal 3. With Delta Air Lines' move to Terminal 2 to consolidate with Northwest, the Delta SkyClub closed on November 16, 2009.

Terminal 4 (defunct)

Terminal 4 was O'Hare's interim international terminal from 1984 until 1993, located on the ground floor of the main parking garage. International passengers would check in at Terminal 4 and be taken directly to their aircraft by bus. Since the opening of Terminal 5, Terminal 4 has been changed into the airport's facility for CTA buses, hotel shuttles, and other ground transportation. The T4 designation will be used again in the future as new terminals are developed.

Terminal 5 (International Terminal)

All international arrivals at O'Hare (excluding flights from destinations with U.S. border preclearance), are processed at Terminal 5.

Terminal 5 has 21 Gates on one concourse:

  • Concourse M, with 21 gates

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations Terminal/Concourse
Aer Lingus Dublin 5M
Aeroméxico Guadalajara, Mexico City, Morelia 5M
Aeroméxico Connect Durango [seasonal] 5M
Air Canada Montréal-Trudeau [seasonal], Toronto-Pearson 2E
Air Canada Jazz Calgary [seasonal], Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson 2E
Air Choice One Burlington (IA), Decatur 3L
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle 5M
Air India Frankfurt, Mumbai 5M
Air Jamaica Montego Bay [ends April 12][8] 5M
Alaska Airlines Anchorage, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma 3L
Alitalia Rome-Fiumicino 5M
All Nippon Airways Tokyo-Narita 1C
American Airlines Acapulco [seasonal], Albuquerque [seasonal], Anchorage [seasonal; begins May 13], Atlanta [ends April 5], Austin, Beijing-Capital [begins April 26], Boston, Brussels, Calgary [seasonal; begins June 12], Cancún, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denver, Detroit [resumes April 6], Dublin, Eagle/Vail [seasonal], El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Gunnison/Crested Butte [seasonal], Hayden/Steamboat Springs [seasonal], Honolulu [resumes April 7], Houston-Intercontinental [ends April 5], Jackson Hole [seasonal], Kansas City, Las Vegas, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester (UK), Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montego Bay [seasonal], Montrose [seasonal], New Orleans, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, Orange County, Orlando, Palm Springs [seasonal], Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Puerto Vallarta [seasonal], Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Rome-Fiumicino [seasonal], St. Louis, Salt Lake City [ends April 5], San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai-Pudong, Tampa, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson [resumes April 6], Tucson, Tulsa, Vancouver [seasonal; begins June 10], Washington-Reagan, West Palm Beach [seasonal] 3H, 3K, 3L
American Eagle Albuquerque [seasonal], Allentown/Bethlehem [begins June 10], Atlanta, Baltimore, Bloomington/Normal [ends April 5], Blountville/Tri-Cities [begins July 2], Buffalo, Calgary [begins April 6], Cedar Rapids/Iowa City [ends April 5], Champaign/Urbana, Charleston (WV) [begins April 6], Charlotte, Chattanooga, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky [ends April 5], Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dayton [resumes April 6], Des Moines, Detroit, Dubuque, Evansville, Fargo [begins April 6], Fayetteville (AR), Flint [ends April 5], Fort Wayne [ends April 5], Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Harrisburg [begins April 6], Hartford/Springfield, Houston-Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis [ends April 5], Jacksonville [begins April 6], Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Knoxville, La Crosse, Lexington [begins April 6], Little Rock, Louisville [ends April 5], Madison [ends April 5], Marquette, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St Paul [begins April 6], Moline/Quad Cities [ends April 5], Montréal-Trudeau, Nashville, Newark [begins April 6], New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Peoria [ends April 5], Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Rapid City [begins April 6], Richmond, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), Salt Lake City [begins April 6], San Antonio [begins April 6], Sioux Falls [begins April 6], Springfield (IL), Springfield (MO), Syracuse, Toledo, Toronto-Pearson, Traverse City, Tri-Cities (TN/VA) [begins July 12], Tulsa, Washington-Reagan, Wausau/Stevens Point [ends April 5], White Plains, Wichita, Wilkes Barre/Scranton [begins June 10] 3G, 3H
AmericanConnection operated by Chautauqua Airlines Bloomington/Normal, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Evansville, Flint, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kalamazoo, Louisville, Madison, Milwaukee, Moline/Quad Cities, Oklahoma City, Peoria, Wausau/Stevens Point [All service begins April 6] 3L
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon 5M
British Airways London-Heathrow 5M
Cayman Airways Grand Cayman [seasonal] 5M
Continental Airlines Houston-Intercontinental, Newark 2B
Continental Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines Cleveland 2B
Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Cleveland, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark 2B
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City [seasonal] 2E
Delta Connection operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines Atlanta 2E
Delta Connection operated by Comair Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, New York-JFK 2E
Delta Connection operated by Mesaba Airlines Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul 2E
Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines Atlanta 2E
Delta Connection operated by SkyWest Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Salt Lake City 2E
Delta Connection operated by Shuttle America New York-LaGuardia [begins June 10][9] 2E
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 5M
Grupo TACA (TACA) Guatemala City, San Salvador 5M
Iberia Madrid 3K
Japan Airlines Tokyo-Narita 5M
JetBlue Airways Boston, Long Beach, New York-JFK 2E
KLM Amsterdam 5M
Korean Air Seoul-Incheon 5M
LOT Polish Airlines Kraków, Warsaw 5M
Lufthansa Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich 1B
Mexicana Cancún, Guadalajara, León [seasonal], Mexico City, Monterrey, Morelia, Puerto Vallarta, Zacatecas 5M
Pakistan International Airlines Barcelona [begins June 12], Islamabad [begins June 16], Karachi [begins June 12], Lahore [begins June 12] 5M
Royal Jordanian Amman 5M
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Stockholm-Arlanda 5M
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Myrtle Beach [seasonal] 3L
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich 5M
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk 5M
United Airlines Albany, Amsterdam, Anchorage [seasonal; resumes May 22], Aruba [seasonal], Atlanta, Baltimore, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi [ends March 26], Beijing-Capital, Boise [seasonal], Boston, Brussels [begins March 28],[10] Buffalo, Calgary [seasonal], Cancun, Charlotte, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Cozumel [seasonal], Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Eagle/Vail [seasonal], Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Hartford/Springfield, Hayden/Steamboat Springs [seasonal], Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston-Intercontinental, Jackson Hole [seasonal], Jacksonville, Kahului [seasonal], Kansas City, Kona [seasonal], Las Vegas, Liberia (Costa Rica) [seasonal], London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Mexico City [seasonal; resumes May 29], Miami [seasonal], Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montego Bay [seasonal], Munich, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, Omaha, Orange County, Orlando, Palm Springs [seasonal], Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Providence, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana [seasonal], Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Rome-Fiumicino [seasonal; begins May 1], Sacramento, Salt Lake City, St. Maarten [seasonal], St. Thomas [seasonal], San Diego, San Francisco, San José del Cabo [seasonal], San Juan, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Tampa, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver, Washington-Dulles, Washington-Reagan 1B, 1C
United Express operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Columbia (SC), Columbus (OH), Huntsville, Pensacola [ends April 4], Roanoke, Rochester (NY), Savannah, South Bend 1E, 1F
United Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Allentown/Bethlehem, Birmingham (AL), Burlington (VT), Dayton, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greenville/Spartanburg, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Knoxville, Lexington [begins April 5], Madison, Nashville, Pensacola [seasonal; begins April 10], Savannah 1E, 1F
United Express operated by GoJet Airlines Albany, Austin, Burlington (VT), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Dayton, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Harrisburg, Moline/Quad Cities, Montréal-Trudeau, Newark, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Philadelphia, Portland (ME), Richmond, St. Louis, San Antonio, Syracuse, Toronto-Pearson 1C, 1E, 1F
United Express operated by Mesa Airlines Akron/Canton, Albany, Appleton, Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham (AL), Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Des Moines, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Kansas City, Lansing, Madison, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Moline/Quad Cities, Nashville, Newark, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY), Sioux Falls, South Bend, Syracuse, Traverse City 1C, 1E, 1F
United Express operated by Shuttle America Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin [begins April 6], Boston, Buffalo [ends April 5], Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charlotte, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Edmonton, Fort Myers, Grand Rapids [ends April 5], Halifax, Hartford/Springfield [ends April 4], Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville [ends March 31], Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Moline/Quad Cities, Montréal-Trudeau, Myrtle Beach [seasonal], New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Norfolk, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY) [ends April 5], Salt Lake City, San Antonio [ends April 5], Toronto-Pearson, White Plains 1B, 1C
United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines Akron/Canton, Allentown/Bethlehem, Appleton, Asheville, Aspen [seasonal], Austin, Billings [seasonal], Bismarck, Boise, Bozeman [seasonal], Calgary, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Duluth, Eau Claire, Edmonton, El Paso, Fargo, Fayetteville (AR), Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Hancock/Houghton, Hayden/Steamboat Springs [seasonal], Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kalispell [seasonal], Kansas City, Knoxville, Lansing, Lexington, Lincoln, Little Rock, London (Ontario), Louisville, Madison, Memphis, Milwaukee, Missoula, Moline/Quad Cities, Montrose [seasonal], Muskegon, Nashville, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Paducah, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Providence, Quebec City, Rapid City [seasonal], Regina [begins June 9], Roanoke, Saginaw, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Saskatoon, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Spokane [seasonal], Springfield (IL), Springfield (MO), Syracuse, Traverse City, Tulsa, Wausau/Stevens Point, Wichita, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Winnipeg 1C, 1E, 1F
United Express operated by Trans States Airlines Albany, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Dayton, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Knoxville, Madison, Moline/Quad Cities, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Savannah, South Bend, Springfield (IL), Springfield (MO), Syracuse, Tulsa 1B, 1E, 1F
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix 2E, 2F
US Airways Express operated by PSA Airlines Charlotte 2E, 2F
US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines Charlotte, Philadelphia 2E, 2F
USA3000 Airlines Cancun, Cozumel [seasonal], Ft. Myers, Huatulco [seasonal], Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo [seasonal], Montego Bay [seasonal], Puerto Vallarta [seasonal], Punta Cana, San José del Cabo [seasonal], St. Petersburg/Clearwater [seasonal] 5M
Virgin Atlantic Airways London-Heathrow [seasonal] 5M

Cargo carriers

There are two main cargo areas at O'Hare that have warehouse, build-up/tear-down and aircraft parking facilities. The Southwest Cargo Area, adjacent to Irving Park Road, accommodates over 80% of the airport's all-cargo flights, divided among 9 buildings in two tiers. The North Cargo Area, which is a modest conversion of the former military base (the 1943 Douglas plant area), also receives air freighters. It is adjacent to the northern portion of Bessie Coleman Drive.

Two satellite cargo areas have warehouse and build-up/tear down facilities, but aircraft do not park at these. Freight is trucked to/from aircraft on other ramps. The South Cargo Area is along Mannheim Road. The East Cargo Area, adjacent to Terminal 5, was formerly the airport's only cargo section but has now mostly evolved into an airport support zone.

Airlines Destinations
Aerounión Guadalajara, Mexico City
Air France Cargo Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Atlas Air
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon
British Airways World Cargo
Cargolux Luxembourg
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
China Airlines Anchorage, Taipei-Taoyuan
China Cargo Airlines Shanghai-Pudong
EVA Air Anchorage, Taipei-Taoyuan
Evergreen International Airlines
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark
JAL Cargo Anchorage, Tokyo-Narita
Korean Air Cargo Anchorage, Seoul-Incheon
Lufthansa Cargo Anchorage, Frankfurt
Lufthansa Cargo operated by World Air Cargo Frankfurt
Nippon Cargo Airlines Tokyo-Narita
Polar Air Cargo Anchorage, Tokyo-Narita
Shanghai Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Shanghai-Pudong
Singapore Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Singapore, Xiamen
UPS Airlines Louisville, Philadelphia



Runway layout at ORD

With the opening of new runway 9L/27R in November 2008, there are now 7 primary air carrier runways, arranged tangentially in 3 parallel sets. The largest is Runway 10-28, 13,001' x 150'. Runway 14R/32L is 13,000' long but is wider with a width of 200'. Runways 9L, 10, 14L, 14R, 27L, 27R and 28 have Category III ILS (Instrument Landing System), allowing trained aircrews to conduct landings with as little as 600 feet (180 m) of horizontal visibility. All other runway approaches except 4L have full Category I ILS. Due to its location and prevailing winds, runway 4L is seldom used for landings. Therefore, it is equipped with a localizer, the horizontal guidance component of an ILS system, but does not have a glideslope, the vertical component.

All but two of O'Hare's runways intersect, which can create problems in times of inclement weather, congestion at the airport, or high winds. There have been several near-aircraft collisions at O'Hare in recent years. The proposed redevelopment, which essentially eliminates active runway intersections, is intended to alleviate collision hazards at O'Hare.

Three runways of the original 1943 airfield's four have been upgraded to modern standards. Additional runways were constructed in 1955, 1968, 1971 and 2008. In 2003, old Runway 18-36 was permanently closed—its short length and problematic placement no longer justified its continued certification. Runway 18-36 is now shown as taxiway WT on current airport charts.

The proposed redevelopment, now in progress, would entail removal of the 2 northwest–southeast runways, construction of 4 additional east–west runways, and extension of the 2 existing east–west runways. The two existing northeast–southwest runways would be retained. Currently, 1 of the 4 new runways has been constructed (9L/27R), and 1 of the 2 extensions (10/28) has been completed.

Runway 32L is sometimes used for departures in a shortened configuration. Planes access the runway from its intersection at taxiway T10 (common) or taxiway M (not common). This shortens the effective length of the runway but allows operations on runway 10-28 to continue without restriction.

O'Hare has a voluntary nighttime (2200–0700) noise abatement program in place.[11]

The proposed runway re-configuration program at O'Hare would also improve the airport for the A380 Super-Jumbo aircraft. As part of the runway re-configuration program, on July 5, 2007, the runway previously designated 9R-27L became Runway 10-28, and on August 30, 2007, Runway 9L-27R became 9R-27L.[12]

On September 25, 2008, a 3,000-foot (910 m) extension to 10-28 was opened.[13]

Access to airport

CTA blue line station at O'Hare International Airport

Intra-airport transportation

Airport Transit System with Hilton Hotel in Background

Access within the airport complex can be accomplished using O'Hare's Airport Transit System (ATS), a 2.5 mi (4 km) long automated people mover system that operates 24 hours a day, connecting all four terminals and the remote parking lots. The system began operation on May 6, 1993,[14] and will be soon undergoing a US $90 million enhancement to add 24 new cars and to extend the line to a new remote parking garage.

Other facilities

A large air cargo complex on the southwest side of the field was opened in 1984, replacing most of the old cargo area, which stood where Terminal 5 now exists.

The hangar area has multiple buildings capable of fully enclosing aircraft up to the size of the Boeing 747.

The new North Terminal Air Traffic Control Tower (est. completion 2009) was designed by AECOM (design principal Jose Luis Palacios).

Modernization plan

O'Hare's high volume and crowded schedule can lead to long delays and cancellations that, due to the airport being a major hub, can affect air travel across North America. Official reports rank O'Hare as one of the least punctual airports in the United States based on percentage of delayed flights.[15] In 2004, United Airlines and American Airlines agreed to modify their schedules to help reduce congestion caused by clustered arrivals and departures. Because of the air traffic departing, arriving, and near the airport, air traffic controllers at O'Hare and its nearby facilities are among the leaders in the world in terms of number of controlled flights per hour.

City management has committed to a $6 billion capital investment plan to increase the airport's capacity by 60% and decrease delays by an estimated 79 percent.[16] This plan was approved by the FAA in October 2005 and will involve a reconfiguration of the airfield and addition of terminal space. The plan includes the addition of four runways and the decommissioning of two others in order to give the airfield six parallel runways in a configuration similar to that in Dallas. This plan was very controversial as the added improvements, at the time they were proposed, were expected to increase the airport's air traffic capacity only slightly, given existing FAA rules.

The Modernization Plan is now being implemented; an additional runway and Air Traffic Control Tower were commissioned on November 20, 2008. The new north runway, designated 9L/27R, initially served as a foul weather arrival runway, addressing one of O'Hare's primary causes of delay, but now serves as one of three runways that can be used simultaneously for landings. An extension of Runway 10/28 (formerly 9R/27L) to 13,001 feet (3,963 m) was opened in September, 2008, facilitating the shortening and eventual closure of the equally long Runway 14R/32L. At the same time, the FAA redesigned departure routes for both O'Hare and Chicago Midway International Airport, increasing the number from three shared by both airports to five from each airport. With the new runway's opening, O'Hare's maximum aircraft arrival capacity increased from 96 planes per hour to 112 planes per hour; United Airlines's senior vice president of operations, Joseph Kolshak, told The Wall Street Journal that within a month of the runway's opening, "they were consistently hitting that."[17]

Design efforts are underway for the remainder of the program, which includes three runway projects, a new western terminal complex and an automated people mover system. The O'Hare Modernization Program has submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to use approximately $180 million in Passenger Facility Charges to fund design work, which will begin in early 2009.

The modernization plan has required the acquisition of 126 acres (51 ha) of land in Des Plaines, Illinois; construction of runway 27R and the control tower cost $457 million and involved the rerouting of a creek and 14,000,000 cubic yards (11,000,000 m3) of fill to build up an embankment.."[17] 2,800 residents had to be relocated, as well as a cemetery with 900 known graves. The program ultimately is expected to expand the airport's capacity to over 3,800 operations per day, up from the present capacity of 2,700 and will vastly increase passenger throughput. It will also improve the ability of very large aircraft such as the A380 to operate.[citation needed]

Flight caps in place since 2004 expired on October 31, 2008. Ironically, American Airlines eliminated over 60 daily flights at O'Hare because of soaring fuel prices. United announced similar cutbacks. Recent worldwide economic difficulties further complicate the forecasts for airport demand.

After initially opposing the Modernization plan, DuPage County has endorsed the plan citing the creation of jobs, commercial development, and the ability of O'Hare to regain the status as busiest airport.[18]

     existing runway     new runway     removed runway

Sustainable initiatives

The new Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM) was released on August 5, 2009 at the “Airports Going Green” conference. The purpose of the SAM is to integrate airport-specific sustainable planning and practice into everyday functions of an airport.

For more information and to review a copy of the manual on-line, go to

As we move forward with the remainder of the OMP, our commitment to employing the most progressive and innovative sustainable measures in the industry will continue.

The SAM is an expansion and enhancement of the 2003 OMP Sustainable Design Manual (SDM). The SAM incorporates best practices, new technologies and lessons learned from six years of design and construction on the OMP. The manual is intended to be a living document, one that will continue to grow and develop, representing emerging new technologies state-of-the-art design and thought-provoking sustainable initiatives. Additional SAM chapters are being created to incorporate sustainability into airport planning, daily operations and maintenance, as well as concessions and tenants.

The creation of SAM has been a collaborative effort with contributions from airport executives, environmental experts and industry leaders from across the U.S. and around the world. Representatives from major airports have participated in the process, including: Paris-Charles de Gaulle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Reno-Tahoe, Portland, Oakland, Seattle-Tacoma, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Boston-Logan, Atlanta-Hartsfield, St. Louis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Baltimore-Washington and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The implementation of OMP’s sustainable initiatives have resulted in tremendous efficiencies in construction in terms of cost savings; reduced use of natural resources; and using newer and best available practices including:

• Recovered and reused 95 percent of all concrete, asphalt, and dirt on-site, diverting from landfills and realizing almost $3 million in savings.

• Implemented a balanced earthwork plan by managing excess materials and soil on-site, saving at least $100 million.

• Over 32,000 square feet of green roofs in place to-date, including Mt. Prospect Road guard post, South Airfield Electrical Lighting Control Vault, and the first green roof on a FAA Airport Traffic Control Tower base building in the country.

• Required newer, more efficient, cleaner construction vehicles and fuels. All construction vehicles use ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel and all but the newest construction vehicles were retrofitted to reduce emissions and energy use.

• Reduced energy use through installation of LED energy efficient taxiway edge lighting and high efficiency variable speed pumps on detention basins.

• Replacing 154 acres of low quality, inaccessible wetlands currently on Airport property with nearly 450 acres of higher quality wetlands throughout the region.

While the inclusion of many of the sustainable features are noteworthy for a project of this scope and nature, the OMP nevertheless omits several conspicuous features as one of the region’s most significant economic engines and largest atmospheric polluters. Nothing in the way of clean sources of energy has gone into the project. Photovoltaic panels were deemed unsafe due to their reflectivity properties and no small-scale wind, geothermal or other clean energy systems have been incorporated.[19]

Resistance and alternatives

The neighboring communities of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village have been centers of resistance to the expansion plan, in which some residents and businesses will be required to relocate. Bensenville and Elk Grove Village formed the Suburban O'Hare Commission[20] to fight the expansion. So far, they have not had much success. The commission did receive a temporary injunction against portions of the city's expansion project; however, it was soon overturned. The Suburban O'Hare Commission has also been instrumental in pushing for a third regional airport in south suburban Peotone, which it claims would alleviate congestion at O'Hare. However, no airline has committed to the proposed airport, and planning efforts moved very slowly during 2007–08. In November 2009, Bensenville officially ended all resistance to the expansion, ceasing all legal challenges against the City of Chicago.[21]

In 1995, the Chicago/Gary Airport Compact was signed by the cities of Chicago and Gary, Indiana, creating a new administration for the Gary/Chicago International Airport just across the state line. While markedly smaller than the proposed Peotone site, this airport already has more land and a longer main runway than Midway Airport. Gary is also many miles closer than Peotone to downtown Chicago. In addition public transportation is already in place to the Loop via the South Shore Line. Indiana and the FAA have provided significant funding for a Gary runway expansion, currently under construction.

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) in Rockford, Illinois has also marketed itself as an alternative for congestion at O'Hare. However, it is at least a 1-1/2 hour trip to Rockford from the Chicago Loop. Currently there is no direct transportation service from downtown Chicago or O'Hare to the Chicago Rockford International Airport, but airline service at the airport continues to grow. Larry Morrissey, the current mayor of Rockford, has pushed for a high-speed rail connection between the two airports to make the Rockford airport a more convenient alternative to O'Hare.

General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee has consistently attempted to increase its usage by Chicago and Northern Illinois customers. There is a direct Amtrak rail service connecting Chicago with Mitchell Airport. The trains operate 7 round trips each day, taking under 75 min. from the Chicago loop.

Accidents and incidents


1057 fatalities have occurred as a result of accidents en route to or from Chicago O'Hare.[22]

  • On February 9, 1998, American Airlines Flight 1340 crashed upon landing in Chicago from Kansas City International Airport injuring 22 passengers.[23]
  • On October 31, 1994, American Eagle Flight 4184 crashed over northwestern Indiana en route to Chicago, killing all 68 people on board.[24]
  • On September 8, 1994, USAir Flight 427 crashed on approach to Pittsburgh, PA, after departing O'Hare, killing all 132 people on board.[25]
  • On July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232, en route to Chicago from Denver, crash-landed in Sioux City, Iowa, killing 111 people on board.[26]
  • On August 10, 1986, American Trans Air Flight 131 exploded on the tarmac at O'Hare, destroying the plane.[27]
  • On March 19, 1982, a USAF KC-135 crashed upon approach to O'Hare 40 miles northwest of the city (near Woodstock), killing 27 people on board.[28]
  • On May 25, 1979, American Airlines Flight 191 crashed just after takeoff on runway 32R from Chicago en route to Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, killing all 271 people on board and two people on the ground. The crash remains the deadliest single-aircraft crash in United States history, and the worst aviation disaster in the nation before 9/11.[29]
  • On December 20, 1972, North Central Airlines Flight 575 crashed upon takeoff, killing 10 passengers.[30]
  • On December 27, 1968, North Central Airlines Flight 458 crashed into a hangar at O'Hare, killing 27 onboard and one on the ground.[31]
  • On August 16, 1965, United Airlines Flight 389 crashed 30 miles (48 km) east of O'Hare while on approach, killing all 30 onboard.[32]
  • On September 17, 1961, Northwest Orient Flight 706 had a mechanical failure in control surfaces and crashed upon takeoff at Chicago O'Hare killing all 37 onboard.[33]


  • On April 1, 1999, a near-miss occurred on the intersection on Runways 14 right and 27 left between Korean Air Flight 36 and Air China 9018, both Boeing 747s. The Korean Air 747-400 pilot took evasive action by rolling slightly left to avoid the Air China Boeing 747 Freighter, missed each other by 75 feet (23 m) saving everyone on board both aircraft.[34] 7 years later, on July 23, 2006, another near-miss occurred between Giant 6972, an Atlas Air Boeing 747 and United Airlines Flight 1015, a Boeing 737, missing each other by 35 feet (11 m).[35]
  • On October 8, 2001, on American Airlines Flight 1238, en route from Los Angeles to Chicago, a psychotic passenger stormed the cockpit 40 minutes before landing in Chicago, causing the plane to drop sharply and spark panic. In light of the fear ignited by 9/11, flight crew and passengers were quickly able to wrestle the man to the ground and subdue him. Additionally, a distress signal was sent by the pilots, causing two F-16s to race at supersonic speeds to intercept and escort the aircraft to O'Hare International Airport. This caused a sonic boom in Chicago's northwest suburbs, startling millions of residents.[36]

USAF use

The original Douglas plant on the northeast side evolved into a United States Air Force Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve facility after World War II.

Beginning in 1947, the airfield was assigned to Continental Air Command (ConAC). The 338th Bombardment Group flew B-29 Superfortresses from the airfield between June 12 and June 27, 1949. The B-29s were replaced by the 437th Troop Carrier Group, flying Curtiss C-46 Commandoes until being activated for the Korean War on March 14, 1951. Its aircraft and personnel were deployed to various units in South Korea and Japan, with the group being inactivated immediately afterwards.[38]

During the Korean War, the ConAC reserve units were withdrawn and O'Hare was reassigned to Air Defense Command's Central Air Defense Force.[39] The 62d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was transferred to the station flying F-86 Sabres.[40][41] The 62d FIS remained at O'Hare until October 1, 1959, becoming part of the ADC 56th Fighter Group, and later being upgraded to the F-86D interceptor version of the Sabre.[42] In addition, the federalized Oregon Air National Guard 142d Fighter-Interceptor Wing was stationed at O'Hare from March 1, 1951 to February 6, 1952.

Other Air Defense Command (ADC) squadrons assigned to the 56th FIW at O'Hare Airport were the 42d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (1953–1955) (F-86D) and the 63d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (1955–1958) (F-86D/L)[42] In 1960, the need for active duty ADC bases was diminishing and the Air Force inactivated its active-duty ADC units at O'Hare and returned the station back to Continental Air Command (later resesignated Air Force Reserve) to base reserve units under the 2840th Air Reserve Training Wing.[43]

In 1961, the Illinois Air National Guard's fighter unit at O'Hare transitioned to an air refueling mission and was redesignated as the 126th Air Refueling Group, flying the KC-97 Stratotanker. In 1976, the 126th transitioned to the KC-135 Stratotanker, was redesignated as the 126th Air Refueling Wing (126 ARW) and was placed under the operational claimancy of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Following the deactivation of SAC in 1992, the 126 ARW came under the claimancy of the newly-established Air Mobility Command (AMC).[44]

O'Hare Air Reserve Station was also home to the 928th Tactical Airlft Wing (928 TAW), later the 928th Airlift Wing (928 AW), of the Air Force Reserve Command, flying the C-130 Hercules. The 928th was operationally gained by the Tactical Air Command (TAC) until 1975, the Military Airlift Command (MAC) until 1992, and following the deactivation of SAC, TAC and MAC, by the newly-established Air Mobility Command (AMC) from 1992 forward.[45]

The 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended the closure of O'Hare Air Reserve Station as proposed by the municipal government of the City of Chicago and the transfer of both the 126 ARW and 928 AW to new facilities to be constructed at Scott AFB, Illinois, with much of the associated costs to be borne by the City of Chicago. The 1995 BRAC Commission modified the closure of O'Hare Air Reserve Station as recommended by the 1993 BRAC by deactivating the 928th Airlift Wing, rather than relocating the unit, and distributing its C-130 aircraft to Air Force Reserve C-130 units at Dobbins ARB, Georgia and Peterson AFB, Colorado.[45]

The 126 ARW moved from the former O'Hare Air Reserve Station at O'Hare International Airport to Scott AFB, Illinois in 1999 as recommended by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's Report to Congress in conjunction with the closure of the Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard facilities at O'Hare.[44]

Following the closure of the O'Hare Air Reserve Station, the former USAF facilities were redeveloped for air cargo and general aviation. Signature Flight Support services private aircraft in this area.

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for ORD (Form 5010 PDF), effective March 15, 2007.
  2. ^ Monthly Operations, Passengers, Cargo Summary By Class, For December 2008 (published January 21, 2009)
  3. ^ Monthly Operations, Passengers, Cargo Summary By Class For December 2009, Midway Airport
  4. ^ O'Hare wins "Best Airport in North America" PDF (25.0 KB)
  5. ^ YouTube – 1994 United Airlines Commercial
  6. ^ "Ward 41" (PDF). Webportal. City of Chicago. October 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  7. ^ RITA | BTS | Transtats
  8. ^ "Air Jamaica". Air Jamaica. 2010-02-02. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Press release detail". 2009-11-05.,7056,61241,00.html. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  11. ^ "O'Hare Fly Quiet Program". 1997-06-17. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  12. ^ "Runway 9–27 Reconfiguration Plan" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  13. ^ "O'Hare runway opens in grand style".,runway092508.article. 
  14. ^ Fornek, Scott (May 6, 1993). "Moving Experience Ready at O'Hare". Chicago Sun-Times: p. 4. 
  15. ^ RITA | BTS | Transtats
  16. ^ The Chicago Airport System
  17. ^ a b "How a New Runway at O'Hare Makes Travel Easier for All," Wall Street Journal, Personal Journal section, July 23, 2009, pages 1 and 3
  18. ^ Economic boom will come from Elgin-O'Hare extension
  19. ^ "Sustainable Airport Design Takes Flight: The O'Hare Modernization Program". Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  20. ^ Bensenville, IL – Official Website – Suburban O&#39Hare Commission
  21. ^ "Bensenville Ends Opposition To O'Hare Expansion - WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather". WBBM 780. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  22. ^ Aviation Safety Network > ASN Aviation Safety Database > Airports > Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, IL profile
  23. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-223 N845AA Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, IL (ORD)
  24. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Aérospatiale/Aeritalia ATR-72-212 N401AM Roselawn, IN
  25. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-3B7 N513AU Aliquippa, PA
  26. ^ ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 N1819U Sioux Gateway Airport, IA (SUX)
  27. ^ ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 N184AT Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, IL (ORD)
  28. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker 58-0031 Greenwood, IL
  29. ^ ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 N110AA Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, IL (ORD)
  30. ^ ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31 N954N Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, IL (ORD)
  31. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Convair CV-580 N2045 Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, IL (ORD)
  32. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-22 N7036U Lake Michigan, MI>
  33. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Lockheed L-188C Electra N137US Chicago-O'Hare International Airport, IL (ORD)
  34. ^ youtube1
  35. ^ youtube2 (Part 2, 6:04 onwards in the video), youtube video3
  36. ^ "ProQuest Login - ProQuest". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  37. ^ "In the sky! A bird? A plane? A ... UFO?". Chicago Tribune.,1,3957154.column?coll=chi-news-hed. Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  38. ^ Maurer Maurer, Air Force Combat Units Of World War II, Office of Air Force History, 1983
  39. ^ USAFHRA Document 00451100
  40. ^ USAFHRA Document 00441742
  41. ^ USAFHRA Organizational Records page, 62d Fighter Squadron
  42. ^ a b USAF Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).
  43. ^ USAFHRA Document 00462865
  44. ^ a b United States. "126th Air Refueling Wing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  45. ^ a b O'Hare IAP Air Reserve Station

External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Concourse C in the morning
Concourse C in the morning

O'Hare International Airport [1] (IATA: ORD) is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. It serves the city of Chicago and the rest of the Chicagoland area, with connecting flights to smaller cities throughout the Midwest.


This is no Changi, no Kansai; in other words, it's nobody's favorite airport. O'Hare is huge, but it's from an era before airports had much in the way of amenities, and it's been stretched beyond capacity for a while now. Although safety has never been a concern, O'Hare has one of the worst on-time records of any major airport. However, most of the world's airlines fly though O'Hare, so international travelers aren't likely to have much of a choice, other than possibly Chicago's Midway or Milwaukee's General Mitchell International (connected to the Loop via the Amtrak Hiawatha [2] train service).

O'Hare has four passenger terminals. Terminals 1-3 handle domestic traffic (and some international departures); Terminal 5 handles all international arrivals and international departures that are not covered by Terminals 1-3. (Terminal 4 is something of a fnord, its temporary space since re-appropriated as the shuttle bus depot; the name has been set aside for potential future expansion).

United Airlines has a significant presence at O'Hare, since its corporate offices are located in downtown Chicago. O'Hare is also a major hub for American Airlines. As such, a rule of thumb is that Terminal 1 is dominated by United and its alliance partners; Terminal 3 is given over to American and its partners, and Terminal 2 is everybody else, plus some United Express gates that wouldn't fit in Terminal 1. More precisely:

  • Terminal 1 All Nippon, Lufthansa (departures only), Ted, United Airlines (domestic arrivals and departures) (international departures only), United Express
  • Terminal 2 Air Canada, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Jet Blue, Northwest Airlines, US Airways, United Express
  • Terminal 3 Alaska Airlines, American Airlines (domestic and international departures), American Eagle, Iberia Airlines (departures only), Spirit Airlines
  • Terminal 5 Aer Lingus, Air France, Air India, Air Jamaica, Alitalia, All Nippon, American Airlines (International arrivals only), Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Cayman Airways, Iberia Airlines (arrivals only), Japan Airlines (JAL), KLM, Korean Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa (arrivals only), Mexicana, Royal Jordanian, Scandinavian Airlines, SWISS, TACA Airlines, Turkish Airlines, USA 3000, United Airlines (international arrivals only), Virgin Atlantic
Airport map
Airport map

Get in

Chicago's Far Northwest Side is the closest part of the city to O'Hare. While it does have some charms, the most popular attractions for tourists are much further on, in the Loop, Near North, and Near South.

By train

The CTA Blue Line [3] terminates at the space-age station for O'Hare, designed by the firm of architect Helmut Jahn. Trains run 24 hours a day, as frequently as every six minutes during peak periods and as infrequently as every half-hour overnight. The trip to the Loop should take about 48 minutes, but never cut things close with the CTA. The station is located beneath the Bus/Shuttle Center, closest to Terminal 2 but easily accessible by underground passages, with moving walkways, from Terminals 1 and 3. Those arriving at or departing from Terminal 5 (international) must take the automated Airport Transit System between Terminals 2 and 5.

Metra [4] North Central Service trains stop at the "O'Hare transfer" station, located adjacent to parking lot F (with shuttle bus service connecting to the ATS). The train reaches Chicago's Union Station in approximately 30 minutes, but service is infrequent, operates only on weekdays and is concentrated in the peak commute direction.

By bus

Pace [5] routes 250 (Dempster Street for Evanston and Skokie) and 330 (Mannheim/La Grange) stop at the terminus of the Airport Transit System in parking lot E.

Several bus companies run scheduled and charter services to other communities; these usually drop passengers off at the departure-level curb and pick passengers up at the Bus/Shuttle Center.

By taxi

Most taxis offer a fixed rate for the O'Hare trip from the Near North or the Loop. The price will vary from other locations, but shouldn't exceed $30 from the city center or anywhere on the North or West Side; parts of the South Side may be more expensive.

Of the many shuttle/limo services, Airport Express [6] vans are the most commonly seen doing the rounds of downtown hotel pick-ups. Fares are $27/19/14 (per person) for one/two/three or more, with a discount for a return ticket if bought in advance and lower fares for children under 14.

By plane

The Omega Airport Shuttle provides transfer service to Midway Airport for $16, with hourly departures from the Bus/Shuttle Center. Service is offered 6:45AM-11:45PM, daily. Most taxis offer fixed rates for the Midway/O'Hare trip in the vicinity of $35-40.

By car

Access to O'Hare's terminals is via I-190, which originates near the interchange between I-294 (the Tri-State Tollway) and I-90 (the Northwest Tollway to the northwest and the Kennedy Expressway to the east). From downtown Chicago, follow I-90/94 northwest, continue on I-90 when I-94 splits off, then follow I-190 into the airport, which splits eventually into arrival (lower-level) and departure (upper-level) roadways serving Terminals 1, 2, and 3 in turn. For Terminal 5, exit on Bessie Coleman Drive. This exit also serves numerous rental car companies and the economy parking lots. To drop off a passenger without the harrowing experience of navigating the departures roadway, try Kiss n'Fly: follow signs for remote lot E where you can leave your friend at the terminus of the Airport Transit System, just a short ride away from the terminals.

Most major car rental companies have gigantic lots at O'Hare and offer complimentary shuttle buses to and from the passenger terminals.


O'Hare runs a parking hotline (+1 773 686-7530) and broadcasts parking information on 800 AM within two and a half miles of the airport. Needless to say, then, parking at O'Hare is no simple affair. If you're the sort of person who likes to meet friends at baggage claim with a cordial "Come on, run with those bags!" you'll be glad to know that parking in the main garage is free for stays of under 10 minutes. For the rest of us...

  • Level one of the main garage (lot A) is designated for short-term parking, charging $2 for the first hour, and $4 for stays of up to three hours. But keep an eye on the clock, as a fourth hour sees the rate jump to $21, and it doesn't take long to reach the $50/day maximum. Other lots (under long-term, below) also charge $2 for the first hour, but rates increase faster, and as they are further away from the terminals, this option really only benefits you if the hourly parking area is full.
  • Lot D, adjacent to Terminal 5, also offers short-term parking: $2 for an hour, $6 for two hours.
  • A portion of remote lot F is now the cell phone lot where you can park for free and wait in your car for an arriving passenger to call your cell phone, at which point you can pick up your friend curbside without circling endlessly. Shuttle buses run from lot F to E.

If leaving a vehicle at the airport during a trip, numerous options are available.

  • The upper levels of the main garage (lot A) and the adjacent surface lots (lots B and C) charge $30/day.
  • Lot D charges $50/day.
  • Remote economy lot E charges $16/day, lot G charges $13/day, and the more remote lot F charges $9/day. A shuttle takes you between lots F, G, and the ATS terminus in lot E.
  • And if money is no object, valet parking is available at $10/$16 for one/two hours and $45 for the day.

Visitors are advised to notify the above parking hotline if they plan to park for longer than thirty days.

A neon-filled walkway connecting terminals in O'Hare
A neon-filled walkway connecting terminals in O'Hare

On foot

Passengers may walk between Terminals 1, 2, and 3 both land-side (prior to clearing security) and air-side. The distance can be considerable; make sure to allow adequate time for layovers between different terminals. United Airlines also runs an air-side shuttle bus between its gates in Terminal 2 and Terminal 1.

Airport Transit System

O'Hare has an automated, land-side, transit system cleverly called Airport Transit System or ATS. Stops are made at all four terminals as well as at remote parking lot E. This is the only way to reach the three domestic terminals and the Blue Line station from the international terminal, which means that passengers connecting to or from a Terminal 5 flight should allow abundant time for border formalities, inter-terminal transit, and a second security screening.

See & Do

O'Hare doesn't have much in the way of amenities, but there are a few:

O'Hare in the movies

Scenic beauty it ain't, but O'Hare does have a cinematic legacy. For example, in the first two "Home Alone" movies, the McAllister family departed for Paris and Miami in American Airlines' Terminal 3. If you feel like playing with a TalkBoy, chasing a man in a Burberry coat, or running on to the jetway of your flight moments before you leave, here's the place.

  • Brachiosaurus skeleton, (Terminal 1, Concourse B). Airports are big affairs with large budgets, but only O'Hare can boast a complete dinosaur skeleton. And not just any skeleton, but that of the largest animal ever to walk the earth. The Brachiosaurus skeleton is in Terminal 1's Concourse B indefinitely as part of a promotional agreement between the airport and the Field Museum in the Near South. It's certainly worth a look if you are in the terminal, and don't worry — you can't miss it.  edit
  • Butch O'Hare's fighter plane. A replica of the F3F-4 fighter plane flown by the airport's namesake hangs in the main hall of Terminal 2.  edit
  • There are three family/companion restrooms in Terminal 2, and one in Terminal 3.
  • Interfaith Chapel, Terminal 2, +1 773 686-2636, [7]. The chapel is open 24 hours. If flight delays are making you question your faith, then head right over. There are chaplains for Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims during office hours, M-F 8AM-2:30PM.  edit
  • Kids Play interactive exhibits are located in Terminal 2 ("Kids on the Fly") and Terminal 5 ("Play It Safe"), operated by the Chicago Children's Museum from Navy Pier. They're open during airport hours.
  • Travelers and Immigrants Aid, Terminal 2, upper level, +1 773 894-2427. M-F 8:30-9PM, Sa-Su 10AM-9PM. Provides information, directions, and assistance for travelers. There are also information booths in all three terminals staffed from 2-7PM M-F 2PM-7PM, Su 3-7PM.  edit
  • UIC Medical Center, Terminal 2, +1 773 894-5100. M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa-Su 9AM-5PM. Operated by the University of Illinois at Chicago. They can provide emergency treatment/urgent care, X-rays, immunizations, and other services.  edit
  • If you just can't wait, there are HeartSave defibrillators (+1 773 462-7283) in all four terminals, intended to be within a minute's reach from any point in the airport.
  • The U.S.O. has a center in front of security for active, reserve, and retired military personnel in Terminal 2, above the Delta Ticket Counter, on the Mezzanine level (Open 24 hours) For more information call +1 773-686-7396.


There are, of course, duty free shops in Terminals 1, 2, 3, and 5.

  • Chicago Historical Society Gift Shop, 8AM-9PM daily, has a better class of Chicago Souvenir than most. They're in Terminal 3.
  • Field Museum Store, 8AM-8PM daily, takes the gift shop from the great museum to Terminal 1.
  • Hudson's Booksellers, 7AM-9:30PM daily, has a reasonable selection of books in Terminals 1, 2, and 3.


There isn't much good to say about food at O'Hare. You'll pay more than you should for meals you won't remember anything about, save for the grease. Nevertheless, there are plenty of places to eat. A full list can be found on the O'Hare website [8].

  • McDonald's, 5AM-11PM daily, has its greasy claws in all four terminals and is notable mainly for being open later than anyone else.
  • Gold Coast Dogs, 6AM-8PM daily, serves airport versions of Chicago-style hot dogs in Terminals 3 and 5. It would be a crime against taste if this was your only encounter with a Chicago-style hot dog, with Superdawg only a short distance away on the Far Northwest Side!
  • Nuts on Clark [9], 6AM-10PM daily in Terminals 1, 2, and 3, has tasty popcorn & nuts for a takeaway salty fix.
  • Sky Bridge, 5AM-9PM daily, is run by Greeks and serves gyros, kebabs, and some other Greek fare along with the basic burger and dog. A step up for the usual fast food joint, most meats here aren't cooked until you order. The omelets are good, the hash browns greasy. Terminal 2, near F9.
  • Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, 6AM-9:30PM daily, serves beer, steaks, and cheeseburgers in Terminal 1. For the sake of any locals who might be around, travelers should take it as a given that everyone has already heard their John Belushi impression, thanks.
  • Chili's, 5:30AM-9PM daily, serves a limited version of their burgers-and-pasta menu in Terminals 1, 2, and 3.
  • Pizzeria UNO, 5:15AM-9:30PM daily, slums it in Terminals 2, 3, and 5, pushing watery versions of Chicago's hallmark deep dish pizza, while Connie's Pizza does the same in Terminal 1 and Gino's East in Terminal 3.
  • The Berghoff, 5:15AM-10:30PM daily, lives on in Terminal 1, outlasting the original location in the Loop. Bratwurst loyalists will have to take the classic German food wherever they can get it.
  • Wolfgang Puck, 5AM-10PM daily, in Terminals 1 and 3 has an extremely limited menu to compensate for demand and limited preparation space. It's overpriced and not tasty enough to justify the price, but if you're on an expense account, go for it.


There are a few options for booze in O'Hare. Some restaurants, including Billy Goat and The Berghoff, also have liquor licenses. As with food, options are more limited in the international terminal.

  • Goose Island Brewing Company, 8AM-8PM daily, in Terminal 2.
  • Prairie Tap, 6AM-10PM daily, in Terminal 3.


Many hotels serving O'Hare are actually located in the nearby suburbs of Rosemont and Schiller Park, among others. They tend to be nice, clean, bland, and expensive. Amenities are fairly standard, with an eye toward business travelers. Virtually all hotels run shuttles to and from the airport. Some run on a schedule and do regular pick-ups, while others have to be called from the airport concierge. Shuttle stops are clearly sign-posted. Make sure the shuttle is going to your specific hotel — Marriott, for example, runs separate shuttles for each of its brands. A taxi should cost $10-15 at the most.

If you're driving to a hotel, get on I-190, the small expressway that operates to/from the airport. Most hotels are clustered on Mannheim Road or River Road, which have exits from the expressway, or off roads that connect with Mannheim going north (Higgins, Touhy) or south (Irving Park). I-190 merges with I-90/94, which heads to the center of Chicago.


Cheap hotels near O'Hare tend to be cheap for a reason — don't be shy about asking to see the room first.

  • Comfort Inn O'Hare (Des Plaines), 2175 E Touhy Ave, Des Plaines, +1 847 635-1300, [10]. About two miles from the airport. Rooms from $90.  edit
  • Comfort Inn O'Hare (Elk Grove Village), 2550 Landmeier Rd, Elk Grove Village, +1 847 364-6200, [11]. About five miles from the airport. Rooms from $80.  edit
  • Econo Lodge O'Hare Airport, 2080 N Mannheim Rd, Northlake, +1 708 681-0220, [12]. Rooms from $60.  edit
  • Quality Inn O'Hare Airport, 3801 N Mannheim Rd, Schiller Park, +1 847 678-0670, [13]. About two miles from the airport. Rooms from $60.  edit
  • Quality Inn & Suites, 100 Busse Rd, Elk Grove Village, +1 847 593-8600, [14]. About five miles from the airport. Rooms from $85.  edit
  • Best Western At O'Hare, 10300 W Higgins Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 296-4471 (fax: +1 847 296-4958), [15]. The rooms are a little dingy and the internet was spotty at last check, but it's not bad. Has a sports bar and a diner on-site. Rooms from $130.  edit
  • Comfort Inn O'Hare (Franklin Park), 3001 N Mannheim Rd, Franklin Park, +1 847 233-9292, [16]. About five minutes from the airport. Rooms from $130.  edit
  • Comfort Suites O'Hare (Schiller Park), 4200 N River Rd, Schiller Park, +1 847 233-9000, [17]. Big hotel with a sports bar and grill on-site. Rooms from $120.  edit
  • Doubletree Hotel Chicago Arlington Heights, 75 West Algonquin Road, +1 847 364-7600 (, fax: 847-427-4298), [18]. Free Shuttle (based upon avilability) near Woodfield Mall. Rooms as low as $89 on weekends, higher during the week.  edit
  • Embassy Suites Chicago O'Hare/Rosemont, 5500 N River Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 678-4000, [19]. About one mile from the airport. Rooms as low as $119, but reservations can be difficult to get.  edit
  • Four Points by Sheraton, 10249 W Irving Park Rd, Schiller Park, +1 800 323-1239, [20]. Lounge, restaurant, pool, and the rest. For travelers who like to cut it close, shuttles run to O'Hare every 20 minutes, 24 hours per day. Rooms from $155.  edit
  • Hampton Inn Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel, 3939 N Mannheim Rd, Schiller Park, +1 847 671-1700, [21]. About 1.5 miles from the airport. Rooms from $146.  edit
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 6600 N Mannheim Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 544-7500, [22]. About five miles from the airport. Rooms from $163.  edit
  • Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 W Bryn Mawr Ave, +1 847 696 1234, [23]. Contemporary facility with newly renovated guest rooms and meeting space. Rooms from $159.  edit
  • Radisson Hotel Chicago O'Hare, 1450 E Touhy Ave, Des Plaines, +1 847 296-8866, [24]. About 1.5 miles from the airport. Rooms from $169.  edit
  • Residence Inn Chicago O'Hare, 7101 Chestnut St, Rosemont, +1 847 375-9000 (fax: +1 847 375-9010), [25]. Home-y hotel with separate kitchens. Rooms from $149.  edit
  • Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Suites Hotel, 8500 W Bryn Mawr Ave, +1 773 380-9600 (fax: +1 773-380-9601), [26]. Indoor swimming pool. Rooms from $179.  edit
  • Sheraton Suites Elk Grove Village, 121 Northwest Point Blvd, Elk Grove Village, +1 847 290-1600, [27]. 253 suites with separate living rooms and bedrooms. Rooms from $159.  edit
  • Wyndham O'Hare, 6810 N Mannheim Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 297-1234, [28]. Just five minutes from the O'Hare International Airport. Among the standard amenities is one you don't find everywhere: a kosher kitchen. Rooms from $159.  edit


If you're going to spend a lot of money on a hotel and you plan to be in town for more than one night, you'll have a much better time in downtown Chicago. That said, these hotels are big and do a lot of business.

  • Chicago Hilton O'Hare, O'Hare Intl Airport, PO Box 66414, Chicago, +1 773 686-8000, [29]. The only hotel located on-site at the airport, in Terminal 2 (close to the CTA Blue Line), with more than 850 rooms and sound-resistant windows. Rooms from $299.  edit
  • Chicago Marriott Suites O'Hare, 6155 N River Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 696-4400 (toll free: +1 866 614-8410, fax: +1 847 696-2122), [30]. Just five minutes from the airport. Rooms from $269.  edit
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel, 5440 N River Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 671-6350, [31]. Giant hotel about 1.5 miles from the airport, with copious meeting space. Rooms from $188.  edit
  • Doubletree Hotel Chicago O'Hare, 5460 N River Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 292-9100, [32]. About five minutes from the airport. Rooms from $239.  edit
  • Holiday Inn Select, 10233 West Higgins Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 954-8600, [33]. Newly renovated in 2007, about one mile from the airport. Rooms from $199.  edit
  • Sheraton Gateway Suites Chicago O'Hare, 6501 N Mannheim Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 699-6300, [34]. Close to O'Hare and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. Rooms from $239.  edit
  • Sofitel Chicago O'Hare, 5550 N River Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 678-4488, [35]. Offers "a touch of France" amid the anonymous sprawl around O'Hare. It's connected by walkway to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. Rooms from $229, but much cheaper with advance booking.  edit
  • The Westin O'Hare, 6100 N River Rd, Rosemont, +1 847 698-6000, [36]. More than 500 pretty rooms with a long list of amenities. Rooms from $329.  edit
  • Wi-fi is available throughout O'Hare Airport from Boingo [37]. Day passes cost $6.95, while monthly rates are $9.95 for the first three months and $21.95 thereafter.
  • Laptop Lane, M-F 6:30AM-11PM, Sa-Su 8AM-4PM, [38] provides secure internet connections and office services for business travelers in Terminal 1. $5 gets you five minutes.
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Simple English

O'Hare International Airport is an airport on the edge of Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the largest airports in both the United States and the world. It is a "hub" for both United Airlines (its largest hub) and American Airlines, meaning that flights from many cities come and go from the airport daily. It gets the most international flights of any American airport not on the East or West Coast.

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