How to Get Between Midway and O’Hare Airports

The question was recently raised on Twitter: is it worth it to switch between Midway and O’Hare airports for a lower fare? The answer: well, that depends. It depends on how much money you’ll save, how much time you have to make the switch, and how much your time and effort is worth. If you’re considering transferring flights between Midway and O’Hare, here’s what you need to know.

Transferring by taxi

A taxi between Midway and O’Hare will have have to travel about 30 miles, mostly on the expressway. This could take as little as 30 minutes with no traffic, or up to an hour (maybe more) in heavy rush-hour traffic. If you are traveling mid-day, count on at least 45 minutes to be safe.

The ride will generally cost you between $55 and $65, plus tip.

Transferring by public transportation

Both Chicago airports are connected to the city by public transportation. O’Hare is accessed via the Blue Line, while Midway is reachable by the Orange Line.

Unfortunately, these two lines don’t intersect, so coming from Midway,you will have to get off the Orange Line at the Library stop, walk north on State, and go west on Jackson to Dearborn. The walk will take less than five minutes, but it does require stairs, so it can be difficult if you have a lot of luggage. From there, take the Blue Line to O’Hare.

Total travel time: 30 minutes on Orange Line, 5 minute walk, 45-50 minutes on Blue Line. About 1.5 hours of transit.
Total cost: $2.50 ($2 for first ride, 25 cents for transfer)

Some tips:

  • Obviously this trip will be a lot less stressful if you don’t check luggage. If you haven’t checked luggage and you have already checked in for your flights, the transition will be much quicker.
  • The amount of time it takes to get between airports will depend mostly on what time of day and which transportation method you choose. During rush hour, allow extra time for the cab option. At times other than rush hour, you will need to allow extra time for the el option though. This is because (especially later at night/early morning) trains run less frequently.
  • Switching from O’Hare to Midway is much easier than vice versa. At peak times, allow at least 30-40 minutes to get from curb to gate (if you’ve already checked in and are carrying on bags) at O’Hare. At Midway, 15-20 minutes is possible (I’ve even done it in 5 minutes before 7am!). Of course, if you are checking bags, need to print your boarding pass, or want some extra time, 45-60 at O’Hare and 30-45 at Midway is recommended.

Photos by: pantagrapher, Velnich