What to Know About Chicago's Airports Before You Travel
With incredible architecture, renowned museums, delicious food (hello, deep dish pizza!), and the impressive Lake Michigan, Chicago offers a perfect American city break. But before you plan your getaway or book a stay at one of the city's fabulous hotels, you'll need to book your flights. There are two major Chicago airports — O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. O'Hare is one of the busiest airports in the country, with dozens of airlines flying to and from its four terminals. By comparison, Midway is much smaller, with just one main terminal with three concourses. Plus, it has about a fifth of the flights. If you're planning to travel to or from a destination abroad, O'Hare is most likely where you'll go, although Midway does offer some international flights. (Note that some flight schedules have temporarily changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so certain airlines might not be currently offering flights to and from these airports.)
Both airports are easily accessible via public transportation and currently offer COVID-19 testing (PCR and rapid antigen tests) to travelers for a fee.
Related: More airport tips
Chicago Airport Maps
O'Hare International Airport Map
Chicago Midway International Airport Map
O'Hare International Airport
O'Hare International Airport (ORD), located on the northwest side of Chicago, is one of the country's busiest airports, with nearly 1,000 daily direct flights to and from international and domestic destinations. Passengers can fly to states around the country or to destinations in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, and more from O'Hare, making it a common stop for a layover if their journey doesn't begin here.
There are four terminals at O'Hare — Terminal 1, Terminal 2, Terminal 3, and Terminal 5 — and each has a range of dining and shopping options. Terminal 1 airlines include ANA, Lufthansa, United, and United Express. Air Canada, Alaska, Delta, Delta Shuttle, and JetBlue fly from Terminal 2. Air Choice One, American Airlines, American Airlines Shuttle, Cape Air, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and Spirit Airlines are in Terminal 3. Over 30 airlines can be found in Terminal 5, including many international options plus U.S.-based carriers like Southwest and Frontier. Several airlines also have lounges at O'Hare, including United, American, Delta, British Airways, and more.
Getting to O'Hare International Airport
The airport is accessible via the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line and the Metra commuter train service. There are regional and airport shuttle buses that serve the airport, too. Of course, you can also reach the airport via taxi or rideshare, or drive your own car and park upon arrival (parking rates start at $15 per day).
O'Hare International Airport Airlines
Dozens of domestic and international airlines serve O'Hare, including U.S.-based carriers like Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, American, United, Alaska Airlines, and more, plus a number of major international airlines, including Air France, ANA, British Airways, Emirates, KLM, Qatar, and Turkish Airlines. You can find the full list of airlines on O'Hare's website.
Chicago Midway International Airport
Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), located on the south side of Chicago, is less busy than O'Hare, with around 220 flights each day to primarily domestic destinations. The airport offers flights to popular destinations around the U.S. and to seven international destinations, currently all in Mexico.
Midway's terminal has three concourses — A, B, and C — with a variety of shopping and dining options, but there are no lounges, with the exception of the USO center for active military personnel and their families (there are two USO locations at O'Hare).
Getting to Chicago Midway International Airport
The Chicago Transit Authority's Orange Line trains transport travelers from downtown Chicago to the airport, and there are CTA buses, Pace buses, and regional and shuttle buses for those going to places that are not on the Orange Line. You can also travel to the airport via taxi or rideshare, or drive your own car and park at the airport (parking rates start at $15 per day at Midway, too).
Chicago Midway International Airport Airlines
Allegiant, Delta, Porter, Southwest, and Volaris Airlines fly to Chicago Midway International Airport. Southwest currently offers the most flights from this airport.