Contained within a square-mile on the city’s southwest side, Midway Airport’s terminal straddles Cicero Avenue. Passengers check in with their airlines on the east side of the street and then use a bridge over the street to get to the gates on the west side. The current airline passenger terminal was completed in 2001 but the airport itself dates back to 1923 when it was used as a landing strip for four years before it became Chicago Municipal Airport. Renamed in 1949 for the World War II naval Battle of Midway, the airport lays claim to being Chicago’s “close-in” airport.
Midway has one terminal with two main concourses, A and B. There is also a three-gate area labeled as Concourse C. All of the gate areas are connected in the TSA secure area.
Ground transportation options include taxis outside baggage claim on the lower level, app-based ride services outside Door 4 of baggage claim, shuttle services outside Door 3 of baggage claim and car services, which have meeting information booths near carousel 4 in baggage claim.
The Orange Line of the Chicago Transit Authority’s ‘L’ train operates from the airport to the downtown Loop with a scheduled travel time of just under 25 minutes. To reach the transportation center (indicated in yellow on the terminal map) by way of an enclosed walkway, follow the signs for ‘CTA Trains’ or ‘Trains to the City’ along with an orange line painted on the ground. More information about CTA trains to/from the airport is here. Several CTA and Pace suburban bus routes also serve Midway Airport’s transportation center.
Southwest Airlines flights arrive and depart at gates on the A and B concourses. Passengers making connections to other flights can do so without exiting the TSA secure area.
Opened in 1955 to accommodate first-generation jet airliners on its long runways, O’Hare Airport’s passenger terminal featured an innovative design using what they called “fingers,” now commonly known as concourses, radiating out from central terminal buildings. That concept changed for Terminal 1, which opened in 1987 and features linear concourses reached by way of an underground tunnel. O’Hare is a major hub for both American and United airlines. The domestic airport terminal is at the west end of Interstate 190, the Kennedy Expressway and is closest to Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Downtown Chicago is about 18 miles southeast and takes about 40 minutes in normal traffic.
O’Hare has four terminals. Domestic flights use terminals 1, 2 and 3. International flights use Terminal 5 (there is no Terminal 4). Walkways connect terminals 1, 2 and 3, both pre- and post-security. NOTE: The Airport Transit System (ATS) automated people mover connecting all terminals is closed for construction (reopening, originally planned for November 2019, has been delayed multiple times). When it does reopen, the ATS will connect the terminals with a Multi-Modal Facility opened in November 2018 and houses rental cars, economy parking and regional bus services and an adjacent Metra North Central rail station. During construction, the airport is operating a shuttle bus service from outside baggage claim – and outside of the secure area – on the lower level roadway of the terminals.
NOTE: Operation of the Terminal Transfer Bus service inside the TSA secure area is temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Passengers making international connections between Terminal 5 and other terminals must exit the TSA secure area to use the landside inter-terminal shuttle buses outside baggage claim.
To leave O’Hare taxis can be found outside baggage claim on the lower level at each terminal. App-based ride services meet passengers arriving in terminals 1, 2 and 3 curbside on the upper level of Terminal 2 and meet passengers arriving in Terminal 5 on the lower level at Door 5C. Shuttles to hotels, regional destinations and off-airport parking arrive and depart from the Bus Shuttle Center, which is accessed using pedestrian tunnels from terminals 1, 2 and 3. (Passengers arriving at Terminal 5 should take a terminal shuttle to Terminal 1 and use the pedestrian tunnel from there.)
The Blue Line of the Chicago Transit Authority’s ‘L’ train is scheduled to make the trip to downtown in about 45 minutes. Signs in the terminals point the way to the train station on the lower level of Terminal 2. Information about CTA trains to/from the airport can be found here.
Approaching the terminals on the roadway, Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are clustered together while terminal 5 (International Terminal) is separate. Terminals and their airlines are:
American Airlines domestic flights arrive and depart at the G, H, K and L gates in Terminal 3. Passengers arriving on American international flights that were not pre-cleared by U.S. Customs at their departure airport arrive at gates in Terminal 5. Except for passengers arriving in Terminal 5, passengers making connections to other American departing flights can do so without existing the TSA secure area. After clearing U.S. Customs in Terminal 5 all passengers must exit the secure area but an option for passengers who have a boarding pass for their connecting flight and have either pre-checked their bags to their destination or don’t have checked bags, can go through TSA Security in Terminal 5 and use the Terminal Transfer Bus from Gate M1 to stay in the secure to reach gates in the domestic terminals. The bus stops at gates G17, K20 or L24 in the American Airlines terminal. The service is also available in reverse for passengers who are connecting to international airlines departing from Terminal 5.
United Airlines domestic flights arrive and depart at the B and C gates in Terminal 1. Passengers arriving on United, All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Lufthansa international flights that were not pre-cleared by U.S. Customs at their departure airport arrive at gates in Terminal 5. Except for passengers arriving in Terminal 5, passengers making connections to other United, ANA and Lufthansa departing flights can do so without existing the TSA secure area. After clearing U.S. Customs in Terminal 5 all passengers must exit the secure area but an option for passengers who have a boarding pass for their connecting flight and have either pre-checked their bags to their destination or don’t have checked bags, can go through TSA Security in Terminal 5 and use the Terminal Transfer Bus from Gate M1 to stay in the secure to reach gates in the domestic terminals. The bus stops at gate B1 in the United Airlines terminal.
With nicknames including The Windy City, Second City, City of Big Shoulders and The City That Works, Chicago’s Midwest location has long made it a hub for commerce. With a population of 9.5 million, Chicagoland as it’s sometimes called, is the third largest metropolitan area in the U.S. behind New York and Los Angeles.
Choose Chicago has visitor information here.
Some of Chicago’s inventions make our lives easier such as the vacuum cleaner (1868) and mechanized dishwasher (1886) while others were technological advances like the wireless remote control (1955) and the cell phone (1973), which by the way weighed in at nearly 2½ pounds and operated for up to 30 minutes after a 10-hour charge. There is also the zipper (1851) and even the Twinkie snack cake (1930). We can enjoy these advances no matter where we are. But George Ferris’ Wheel (1893) is best enjoyed in Chicago. A nearly 200-foot tall replica of the original amusement ride operates at Navy Pier. Learn more about the Centennial Wheel here.
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