O’Hare, Midway Ready to Welcome Nearly 1.6 Million This Labor Day Weekend | Chicago Defender

O’Hare, Midway Ready to Welcome Nearly 1.6 Million This Labor Day Weekend | Chicago Defender

Photo: N i c o l a/flickr

Strong Recovery Continues at O’Hare International Airport, With 7% Increase in Travelers Compared to Labor Day 2022 

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is ready to welcome nearly 1.6 million travelers to O’Hare and Midway International Airports between Thursday, Aug. 31 and Tuesday, Sept. 5, based on projections from airline carriers. 

Compared to Labor Day weekend last year, O’Hare is expected to see a 7% increase in passengers. More than 245,000 travelers will make their way through O’Hare on Monday, Sept. 4, which airlines project will be the busiest day. At Midway, travel is about on par with 2022, with a modest 1% increase in passengers over last year. The busiest travel day will also be Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4., when more than 57,000 passengers will make their way through the airport. 

“Travelers this Labor Day weekend can rest assured that the team at O’Hare and Midway will be working all weekend long to ensure people who rely on our airports can get to their final destination safely and efficiently,” said CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “Thanks to the tremendous support of our airline partners, and the ongoing collaboration from multiple federal, state and local agencies, our world-class airports stand ready to welcome visitors to our world-class city.” 

Visitors and residents traveling through O’Hare and Midway International Airports this weekend should be mindful of the following tips: 

Prevent Traffic Congestion 

Avoid traffic back-ups into O’Hare and Midway by considering the following tips:  

  • Cell Phone Lots are 100% free at both airports. Avoid circling and wait in the convenient parking lots until arriving passengers call to say they are ready for pickup. The O’Hare Cell Phone Lot is at 560 N. Bessie Coleman Dr., and the Midway Cell Phone Lot is located at West 61st Street and South Cicero Avenue.  
  • Kiss n’ Fly drop-offs are 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 Multi-Modal Facility, 10255 W. Zemke Blvd., and board the Airport Transit System (ATS) for a short ride to all terminals.  
  • The CTA Blue Line offers 24/7 service to O’Hare, while the CTA Orange Line services Midway. Both offer frequent and fast service and can help passengers avoid curbside crowds and reduce congestion.  
  • Metra’s North Central Service offers weekday service between Union Station in downtown Chicago and the O’Hare Transfer station adjacent to the airport’s Multi-Modal Facility, with access to the ATS 

Check Parking Updates Before You Leave 

Departing passengers seeking to park their vehicle at O’Hare are encouraged to check the status of parking lots before leaving for the airport at FlyChicago.com/ORDparking.  

Economy Lots often reach capacity during busy holiday travel periods. Passengers should consider booking a parking spot ahead of time for O’Hare at FlyChicago.com. Lot status and advance parking reservations for Midway are also available on FlyChicago.com.  

Locals picking up arriving passengers at Terminal 5 should be aware that parking is extremely limited at Lot D while construction continues on a new, six-story parking garage that will serve the facility. Drivers are encouraged to wait for arriving passengers in the Cell Phone Lot at 560 N. Bessie Coleman Dr., or to park in hourly parking in the Main Parking Garage and board the ATS for a short trip to Terminal 5.  

Kennedy Expressway Construction  

Construction continues on the inbound Kennedy Expressway, with two lanes blocked between the Edens Junction and Ohio Street. Travel between O’Hare and the Loop can be substantially delayed, particularly during rush hour, with travel times topping an hour and 20 minutes.  

All O’Hare passengers should consider using public transportation options to enter or depart from the city, including the CTA Blue Line and Metra’s North Central Service. If traveling by car, passengers should allow extra time for travel, particularly those leaving from the city for O’Hare during the evening rush hour, and those entering the city from O’Hare during the morning rush hour.  

More information on the Kennedy construction schedule is available from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).  

O’Hare Rideshare  

All pickups for rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft at O’Hare continue to take place in the Upper Level Departures section of Terminal 2. This designated rideshare area is a short walk from Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. Passengers arriving into Terminal 5 will need to transfer to Terminal 2 aboard the ATS to for rideshare pickups. All rideshare apps can drop off at all terminals as usual, and taxi and black car pickups are still offered at all of O’Hare’s terminals. 

Leave Time to Dine 

The CDA continues to expand food and beverage options at both airports. The O’Hare team recently announced the airport was named “Favorite Airport Dining” for the fourth consecutive year in the ninth annual Trazee Awards from trazeetravel.com, a division of Global Traveler written for and by travelers age 25-40. 

“With a wide range of dining options available in our terminals, Chicago visitors can sample the unique flavors of our world-class city on their way home, or even if they are just joining us for a connection,” said Commissioner Rhee. 

Try Mobile Ordering at O’Hare 

Mobile ordering for select concessionaires is now available throughout all four terminals at O’Hare International Airport, the CDA announced this month

The ORDer program allows travelers to quickly search, browse, order, and pay for food, beverages, and retail products for pick-up, all from the convenience of their phones. Available at ORDerORD.com in addition to several other day-of-travel digital channels including the American Airlines and Priority Pass apps, the service reduces wait times for travelers while also expanding access to shops and restaurants they may not discover on their path through the airport. 

Travel Safely with Families 

O’Hare International Airport offers a Family Lounge, a designated play area for toddlers and young children. The lounge also offers device charging outlets for grown-ups, and stroller parking for those traveling with infants.  

Nursing parents will also find several locations to safely care for or nurse their young children. At Midway, a Mother’s Room is in Concourse C, next to the airport’s Yoga Room, and a Lactation Pod is available near Gate A5 in Concourse A. O’Hare offers more than a dozen Mother’s Room and Lactation Pod locations, a full list of which is available at FlyChicago.com.  

Regional Bus Pickups  

All passengers that need to connect to a regional bus service will need to transfer from the terminals to the Multi-Modal Facility aboard the ATS. Regional buses now providing departing service from the MMF include:  

  • Coach USA/Van Galder — with service to Rockford, Ill., South Beloit, Ill., Janesville, Wis., and Madison, Wis.  
  • Express Air Coach (EAC) — with service to Champaign/Urbana, Ill., Elgin, Ill., West Lafayette, Ind., and Hammond, Ind.  
  • Lafayette Limo — with service to locations on Purdue University’s campus in West Lafayette, Ind.  
  • Peoria Charter Coach — with service to Peoria, Ill., Normal, Ill., and Champaign/Urbana, Ill.  
  • Reindeer Shuttle — with service to Purdue University’s campus in West Lafayette, Ind., and continuing service to Indianapolis International Airport.  
  • Wisconsin Coach USA — with service to Kenosha, Wis., Racine, Wis., Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee, Wis., and Brookfield, Wis.  

Entertainment and Promotions  

Travelers passing through O’Hare Terminal 3 on Thursday, Aug. 31 can hear live music by the jazz-oriented Emily Kuhn trio in the Rotunda from 1 to 4 p.m.  On Friday, Sept. 1, passengers in Terminal 1 can enjoy the music of jazz guitarist Geordie Kelly from 9 a.m. to noon. Travelers will also be entertained by Morgan Pirtle from 1 – 4 p.m. in the Rotunda in Terminal 3.  

In appreciation of travelers, CDA customer service staff will be handing out airport promotional items on Thursday, Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Terminal 1 near the Field Museum Brachiosaurus Dinosaur. On Friday, Sept. 1, they will be handing out items from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Terminal 3 near gate K2. 

Midway will also be handing out airport promotional items on Thursday, Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the Battle of Midway exhibit. On Friday, Sept. 1, they will host Soul Message Band from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the Battle of Midway exhibit to celebrate this weekend’s Chicago Jazz Festival. 

Arrive Early 

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 at FlyChicago.com. 

General Information 

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 “My Flight” search page shows specific flight updates along with amenities located near the flight gate and other targeted travel resources. 

Note that 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. 

About the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA)       

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) owns and operates one of the world’s busiest airport systems, comprised of O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to more than 250 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 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. The CDA is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at either airport. For more information, visit www.flychicago.com.

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