Chicago is known for many things – deep dish pizza, the Chicago Cubs, skyscrapers, jazz music, and more. But did you know that Chicago is also home to a robust airport system? In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about the airports in Chicago.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: There are 2 major commercial airports in the Chicago area.
A Brief History of Chicago Airports
Chicago, being a major transportation hub, is home to several airports that serve millions of passengers each year. Let’s take a look at the history of these airports and how they have contributed to the growth and development of the city.
Early Days of Aviation in Chicago
The aviation industry in Chicago dates back to the early 20th century when the first airports were established. One of the earliest airports was the Ashburn Flying Field, which opened in 1916 on the city’s Southwest Side. It was primarily used for military training during World War I.
Another significant airport during this time was the Chicago Municipal Airport, which was located in the city’s Grant Park area. It served as a hub for both commercial and private flights.
As air travel became more popular, the need for larger and more advanced airports grew. This led to the development of two major airports in Chicago – Midway International Airport and O’Hare International Airport.
Chicago Midway International Airport
Midway International Airport, located on the city’s Southwest Side, has a rich history that dates back to the 1920s. It was originally named Chicago Municipal Airport, but in 1949, it was renamed Midway Airport in honor of the Battle of Midway during World War II.
Midway Airport has played a significant role in the growth of Chicago’s aviation industry and has been a major hub for domestic flights.
Today, Midway Airport is known for its convenient location, short security lines, and a wide range of domestic flights offered by various airlines. It serves millions of passengers each year and continues to be a crucial transportation hub for the city.
O’Hare International Airport
O’Hare International Airport, located on the city’s Northwest Side, is one of the busiest airports in the world. It was named after Edward O’Hare, a World War II flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient.
O’Hare Airport opened in 1955 and quickly became a major hub for both domestic and international flights.
With its extensive network of airlines and destinations, O’Hare Airport has played a crucial role in connecting Chicago to the rest of the world. It has consistently ranked among the top airports in terms of passenger traffic and amenities offered.
Today, O’Hare Airport continues to undergo expansions and improvements to accommodate the growing number of passengers and enhance the overall travel experience. It serves as a gateway to the city of Chicago, welcoming millions of visitors each year.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Chicago O’Hare International Airport, also known as ORD, is one of the busiest airports in the world. Serving as a major hub for both domestic and international flights, it plays a crucial role in connecting travelers to various destinations around the globe.
Let’s take a closer look at this iconic airport and discover some interesting facts about it.
Overview and Facts
Chicago O’Hare International Airport is located in the northwest area of Chicago, Illinois. It covers a vast area of over 7,627 acres and has a total of four runways. With more than 83 million passengers passing through its gates annually, it consistently ranks among the top airports in terms of passenger traffic.
O’Hare Airport is operated by the Chicago Department of Aviation and has a rich history dating back to its opening in 1955. Over the years, it has undergone significant expansions and improvements to accommodate the growing number of passengers and airlines.
Terminals and Operations
O’Hare Airport is divided into four main terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2, Terminal 3, and Terminal 5. Each terminal is further divided into concourses, offering a wide range of services and amenities for travelers.
Terminal 5 is dedicated to international flights, while the other terminals handle both domestic and international departures and arrivals. The airport offers a plethora of dining options, duty-free shops, and lounges, ensuring that passengers have a comfortable and enjoyable experience during their time at the airport.
Furthermore, O’Hare Airport is home to a number of major airlines, including United Airlines and American Airlines. It serves as a crucial connecting point for travelers traveling to and from various destinations across the United States and the world.
Fun Facts About O’Hare
Did you know that O’Hare Airport has its own urban garden? The airport’s aeroponic garden, located in Terminal 3, is home to over 1,000 plants and herbs. It not only adds a touch of greenery to the bustling airport but also provides fresh produce for some of the airport’s restaurants.
Another interesting fact is that O’Hare Airport has a dedicated art program that showcases a variety of art installations throughout the terminals. From sculptures to paintings, these artworks add a unique and vibrant touch to the airport’s ambiance.
Notable O’Hare Moments
O’Hare Airport has been the stage for many notable moments in aviation history. One of the most famous incidents occurred in 1979 when an American Airlines DC-10 had an engine failure shortly after takeoff, resulting in the tragic crash that claimed the lives of all 271 people on board.
This incident led to significant changes in aviation safety regulations.
On a lighter note, O’Hare Airport has also witnessed some heartwarming moments. In 2012, a couple who had met at the airport 50 years prior returned to O’Hare to celebrate their golden anniversary. The airport staff and passengers joined in the celebration, creating a truly unforgettable experience for the couple.
Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
Chicago Midway International Airport, also known as MDW, is one of the major airports serving the city of Chicago. It is located on the southwest side of the city, approximately 10 miles from downtown.
With its rich history and impressive infrastructure, MDW plays a crucial role in the transportation network of the region.
Overview and Facts
MDW is the second-largest airport in Chicago, after O’Hare International Airport. It serves as a hub for several major airlines, including Southwest Airlines, which operates the majority of flights at the airport.
In terms of passenger traffic, MDW handles millions of travelers each year, making it a bustling and vibrant transportation hub.
One interesting fact about MDW is that it was originally built as a small municipal airport in the 1920s. Over the years, it has undergone significant expansion and development to become the thriving airport it is today.
Terminals and Airlines
MDW has a total of three terminals, conveniently labeled A, B, and C. Each terminal serves different airlines and offers a range of amenities for passengers. The airport has a well-designed layout, making it easy for travelers to navigate between terminals and find their flights.
Some of the major airlines operating at MDW include Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Volaris. These airlines offer a wide range of domestic and international destinations, making MDW a convenient gateway for travelers from all over the world.
Fun Facts About Midway
Did you know that MDW is named after the Battle of Midway, a crucial naval battle that took place during World War II? The airport was renamed in honor of the brave men and women who fought in that historic battle.
Another interesting fact is that MDW has its own art program, featuring various artworks displayed throughout the airport. This initiative adds a touch of creativity and culture to the travel experience, making MDW more than just a transportation hub.
Notable Moments at Midway
Over the years, MDW has witnessed several notable moments and achievements. One such moment occurred in 2014 when the airport celebrated its 90th anniversary. This milestone highlighted the airport’s long-standing presence in the Chicago aviation landscape.
In addition, MDW has played host to various events and celebrations, including air shows and special ceremonies. These events not only showcase the airport’s capabilities but also provide entertainment and excitement for both travelers and aviation enthusiasts.
If you’re interested in learning more about Chicago Midway International Airport, you can visit their official website at https://www.flychicago.com/midway/home/pages/default.aspx.
Other Airports in the Chicago Area
In addition to the major airports in Chicago, there are several other airports in the surrounding area that serve both domestic and international flights. These airports provide additional options for travelers and can help alleviate congestion at the major hubs.
Gary/Chicago International Airport
Located in Gary, Indiana, just 25 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, Gary/Chicago International Airport offers convenient access to the Chicago area. This airport serves as an alternative for travelers looking to avoid the crowds and long lines at O’Hare and Midway.
With a recently expanded runway and improved facilities, Gary/Chicago International Airport is becoming an increasingly popular choice for both commercial and private flights.
Chicago Executive Airport
Formerly known as Palwaukee Municipal Airport, Chicago Executive Airport is located in Wheeling, Illinois, approximately 18 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. This airport primarily serves general aviation and corporate traffic, catering to private aircraft and charter flights.
With its modern amenities and convenient location, Chicago Executive Airport offers a hassle-free alternative for those seeking a more private and personalized travel experience.
Located in West Chicago, DuPage Airport is a general aviation airport that serves as a gateway to the western suburbs of Chicago. With its state-of-the-art facilities and extensive services, DuPage Airport offers a wide range of amenities for both private and corporate travelers.
This airport is known for its high-quality maintenance and repair services, making it a popular choice for aircraft owners and operators in the area.
Other Smaller Airports
In addition to these major alternative airports, there are several smaller airports in the Chicago area that cater to specific aviation needs. These airports include Schaumburg Regional Airport, Lewis University Airport, and Aurora Municipal Airport.
While these airports may not offer as many commercial flights as O’Hare or Midway, they provide important connections for general aviation, flight training, and smaller aircraft operations.
For more information about these airports and their services, you can visit their official websites:
- Gary/Chicago International Airport
- Chicago Executive Airport
- DuPage Airport
- Schaumburg Regional Airport
- Lewis University Airport
- Aurora Municipal Airport
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, these alternative airports in the Chicago area offer convenient options for air travel. Consider exploring these options to enhance your travel experience and enjoy a stress-free journey.
Getting to Chicago Airports
Public Transit Options
Chicago offers a variety of public transit options to help you get to and from its airports. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates an extensive network of buses and trains that serve both O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport.
The Blue Line, for example, provides a direct connection between downtown Chicago and O’Hare, making it a convenient and affordable option for travelers. Additionally, the Orange Line offers a direct route between downtown and Midway.
These public transit options not only provide a cost-effective way to travel, but they also help reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
For more information on CTA schedules and fares, you can visit their official website at www.transitchicago.com.
Driving and Parking
If you prefer to drive to the airports, both O’Hare and Midway offer ample parking facilities. O’Hare, being one of the busiest airports in the world, has multiple parking options to cater to different needs. From economy lots to valet parking, there are choices for everyone.
On the other hand, Midway has a variety of parking options conveniently located near the terminals, making it easy for travelers to access their vehicles.
It’s important to note that parking rates can vary depending on the duration of your stay and the parking facility you choose. It’s always a good idea to check the airport’s official website for the most up-to-date information on parking availability and rates.
Rideshares, Shuttles, and Taxis
For those who prefer a more convenient and door-to-door transportation option, rideshares, shuttles, and taxis are readily available at both Chicago airports. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and traditional taxi services operate at O’Hare and Midway, providing travelers with a hassle-free way to reach their destinations.
Shuttles are another popular option for airport transportation. Many hotels in the Chicago area offer complimentary shuttle services to and from the airports, making it convenient for their guests. Additionally, there are private shuttle companies that provide transportation services to and from both O’Hare and Midway.
It’s worth noting that rideshare and taxi services may have designated pickup areas at the airports, so be sure to follow the signs or ask airport staff for guidance. For shuttle services, it’s advisable to check with your hotel or the shuttle company for pickup locations and schedules.
Chicago is lucky to have such a robust airport system, with two major international airports as well as smaller regional airports. The city’s airports seamlessly connect Chicago to destinations across the country and around the world.
So in summary – there are 2 major commercial airports within Chicago city limits, O’Hare and Midway, along with a few smaller regional airports in the metro area. No matter where you’re trying to fly to or from, Chicago has an airport to fit your needs!