1.6 Million Passengers Expected to Traverse Chicago Airports in Busiest Travel Weekend Since Start of Pandemic
Chicago’s airports expect more than 1.6 million travelers to O’Hare and Midway International Airports between Thursday, June 30, and Tuesday, July 5, based on projections from airline carriers. O’Hare is expecting an increase of 17.3% over the same period last year, while Midway anticipates a 36.9% increase.
„Chicago summer is well underway and our world-class parks, beaches, and restaurants are ready for visitors and residents alike,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “We are thrilled to welcome travelers to our airports for a safe and festive Fourth of July.”
“It’s an exciting time at Chicago’s airports. We are in the final months of construction on the $1 billion revamp of Terminal 5 at O’Hare, which will reshape the travel experience for millions of domestic and international passengers annually,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “We welcome all passengers coming through on the Fourth of July holiday and look forward to serving as their gateway to everything the Windy City has to offer.”
Visitors and residents traveling through O’Hare and Midway international airports this weekend should be mindful of the following tips:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may experience longer than usual wait times at security checkpoints during the holiday weekend given the influx of travelers. Real-time updates for O’Hare checkpoints are available on the FlyChicago website.
Before You Arrive
Travelers bound for Chicago’s airports can make the most informed decisions about how to access any of the above airport services by visiting flychicago.com. The website contains real-time information about flights, parking updates, taxicab wait times, available concession businesses, and other special alerts for the traveling public. The updated “My Flight” search page shows specific flight updates along with amenities located near the flight gate and other targeted travel resources.
Prevent Traffic Congestion
Traffic back-ups into both O’Hare and Midway are common on the Fourth of July travel weekend, and travelers should consider the following options:
- Consider taking the CTA Blue Line to O’Hare and the CTA Orange Line to Midway to avoid the curbside crowds. Metra’s North Central Service also offers weekday service from downtown Chicago’s Union Station to the O’Hare transfer station next to the Multi-Modal Facility (MMF), with access to the Airport Transit System (ATS).
- Kiss n’ Fly drop-offs are also located at both airports. At Midway, passengers can be dropped off at West 59th Street and South Kilpatrick Avenue and take a short walk into the terminals. At O’Hare, passengers can be dropped off at the MMF, 10255 W Zemke Blvd., and board the ATS for a short ride to Terminals 1, 2 3 and 5.
- Cell Phone Lots are available at both airports. Avoid circling the curb zone area and wait in the convenient free parking lots until arriving passenger call to say they are ready for pickup. The O’Hare Cell Phone Lot is at 560 N. Bessie Coleman Drive, and the Midway Cell Phone Lot is located at West 61st Street and South Cicero Avenue.
Parking Lot Availability Updates
Airports across the country continue to experience increased demand for parking as passenger habits continue to fluctuate following the COVID-19 pandemic, and O’Hare and Midway are no different. For real time availability at parking lots at both airports, visit flychicago.com. In the event all lots are full at O’Hare, private parking lots are available to provide additional options for those driving to O’Hare, and many of them provide complimentary shuttle service to all O’Hare terminals.
Parking in Lot D, typically used by those picking up and dropping off international passengers at Terminal 5, is very limited as ground crews have started work on a new, six-story parking garage. Those greeting passengers at Terminal 5 are advised to use the Cell Phone Lot at 560 N. Bessie Coleman Drive or park in the Main Parking Garage and use the ATS to transfer back to Terminal 5.
Be Aware of Construction
Passengers will find that construction continues at O’Hare, especially in Terminal 5 and along the curbsides and roadways of Terminals 1, 2 and 3. While these projects create temporary disruptions to airport operations, they are essential as the CDA works to fulfill “O’Hare 21” — a curb-to-gate transformation that meets the traveling public’s needs for the 21st century and beyond.
The outmoded passenger tunnels between the CTA Blue Line at O’Hare and Terminals 1, 2 and 3 have been fully replaced with new, modern designs that provide a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to Chicago, the CDA announced this week. The remediation work repaired water infiltration that built up over decades to make it possible to replace the architectural finishes.
Expansion work continues throughout Terminal 5, with gate renumbering underway and a variety of renovations set to open in phases through 2023. When completed, the revamped Terminal 5 will increase passenger amenity space by 66%, reconfigure the customs facilities, and replace the existing baggage handling system to ensure Terminal 5 provides a world-class passenger experience for both domestic and international travelers.
Travel Safety Notes
Chicago remains at a “High” risk level for COVID-19, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). While there are no current mandates, CDPH strongly recommends wearing mask in public indoor spaces. Current federal guidance also recommends all employees and travelers ages 2 and up wear a well-fitting mask or respirator while at indoor transportation facilities, including airports. The CDA reminds all passengers and staff to be courteous and respectful to each other.
Access to airport terminals at both O’Hare and Midway is restricted at all times to ticketed passengers, those assisting passengers, badged employees, and others with legitimate airport business.
New Amenities for Families on the Go
Two new Mamava portable lactation pods are being installed at O’Hare’s Terminal 1 this summer, in addition to the eight existing pods throughout Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and one existing pod at Midway. The pods are freestanding spaces intentionally designed with easy-to-clean surfaces and app-enabled access to provide a comfortable and private option to breastfeed or pump. The pods supplement the six Mother’s Rooms available at O’Hare and one at Midway.
Earlier this year, contactless vending machines from Oops! Diapers 2Go also opened in Terminals 1, 2, and 3 at O’Hare, providing a 24-hour option for traveling families to purchase diapers, wipes, pacifiers, formula, bottles, snacks and children’s activity kits.
New Air Service
Several carriers have started new service to international destinations from O’Hare since May 2022.
United Airlines restarted seasonal summer service to Reykjavik in June and to Vancouver in May. American Airlines also started service to Vancouver in June, in addition to its Barcelona service. Viva Aerobus began new service to Leon, Mexico, in early June, while Swoop and WestJet Encore began offering fights to Toronto Pearson in May.
About the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA): The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to over 250 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 41 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago’s airports serve more than 105 million passengers each year and generate approximately $70 billion in annual economic activity for the region. Please visit flychicago.com to learn more about the Chicago Department of Aviation.