Chicago is serviced by two major airports – O’Hare and Midway, both of which are easy to get to via the el train.
O’Hare International Airport
17 miles northwest of Chicago, O’Hare is one of the busiest airports in the world. It is a hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines and welcomes over 2,000 flights each day and over 76 million passengers each year. Because it is a major hub in the US, it’s generally easy to find inexpensive fares from other US cities to Chicago all year round. Nonstop flights from many European cities are also available.
There are four terminals at O’Hare (oddly named Terminals 1, 3 and 5). There are over 50 concessions in O’Hare offering everything from Chicago-style pizza and hot dogs to sit-down restaurants featuring Mexican or Italian. Most of the options are located in Terminals 1, 2, and 3. Terminal 5 is the international terminal, and once you get beyond security you’ll find very few options for dining and drinking.
Getting to O’Hare
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O’Hare is very easy to get to using public transportation from downtown Chicago. Simply hop on the Blue Line from the Lake St. station and about 40 minutes later, you will arrive at the airport. You’ll be deposited in front of a directory that explains which airlines are in which terminal. Signs will then guide you to the ticketing floor of the appropriate terminal.
Midway International Airport
Midway may be an international airport in name, but it actually receives very few international flights. Southwest Airlines operates out of Chicago via Midway and is the airport’s dominant carrier. Delta, Frontier, P0rter, and AirTran Airlines also operate out of the airport.
Midway has three consourses that branch off of one central terminal where you’ll find a more limited selection of concessions and only a handful of shops. Because fewer flights go through Midway, it generally takes much less time to get through security. Midway employs the multi-lane system (different security lanes for “expert” travelers, families, and leisure travelers) which also helps the process run more quickly. For these reasons, it’s advised that you plan to arrive at the airport not more than 90 minutes before your flight.
Getting to Midway
Midway is just eight miles southwest of the city of Chicago and easy to get to via the el. The Orange Line runs from the Loop to the airport in about 20-25 minutes. When the train line stops, a covered walkway begins and connects to the airport via the parking garage. The walk from the Orange Line to the airport terminal takes around five minutes.
General Mitchell International Airport
The General Mitchell International Airport is located 90 miles north of Chicago in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It operates flights from Delta, Southwest, Continental, AirTran, American, Frontier, Midwest, US Airways, and United. Milwaukee and Chicago are connected by both bus and rail, either of which take about two hours and can cost as little as $20 each way, so flying into Milwaukee is sometimes a cheaper option for those who are not pressed for time.