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Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) – #2 Busiest Airport in US


Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD) is the second busiest airport in the United States, though it spent many years at the very top of this list.

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During the 1960s and 1970s, O’Hare was the busiest airport in the country by a margin of up to 12 million passengers. Today, federal restrictions on the number of allowable takeoffs and landings at O’Hare has caused the airport to slip from the top spot. Its high volume of traffic has also led O’Hare to a second-place ranking for worst delays. Despite its reputation for delays, O’Hare has been voted the Best Airport in North America by Global Traveler.

O’Hare’s location in the Midwest makes it perfectly situated to be a hub for the nation’s flights both around the country and beyond. O’Hare is the nation’s first and only dual hub airport (after Delta closed its DFW hub), with two major airline hubs: United and American. O’Hare is United’s second largest hub after Houston-Bush, and American’s second largest hub after Dallas/Fort Worth.

Before the deregulation of airlines in 1978, in addition to American and United, Trans World Airlines (TWA), Northwest Orient Airlines, Delta Air Lines all used O’Hare as a center of operations. Once the airlines were deregulated, these airlines were free to leave, and most switched their hubs, moving to airports like St. Louis and Detroit instead, lowering the amount of traffic passing through O’Hare.

O’Hare has four passenger terminals and nine concourses. Since it is such a busy airport, O’Hare has been working to expand its facilities to accommodate the high traffic. The O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) adds a surcharge on each flight to help fund improvements to the airport. When the project is finished, the airport will have a total of eight runways.

Airport Services

Wi-Fi: O’Hare does have Wi-Fi available, but not for free. However, some airlines have VIP clubs with free Wi-Fi.

Shopping and dining: O’Hare has a variety of options for food, including local specialties like Chicago-style hot dogs, which are sold at several restaurants throughout the airport.

Extras: The Chicago Children’s Museum designed a play area for kids, located in terminal 2, which is the perfect place to have some fun between long flights.

Ground Transportation

Transportation inside the Chicago O’Hare airport includes the Air Transit System (ATS), a rail system that runs between the three domestic terminals, international terminal, long-term parking, METRA station, and Pace stop. The rail system travels a total of 2.7 miles in nine minutes, and runs 24 hours a day.

Outside the airport, a number of transportation options are available. Located 17 miles from downtown Chicago, O’Hare is along the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line train, which runs between the airport and downtown, and to regional trains and Pace, Chicago’s regional bus service. The CTA also runs between O’Hare and nearby airport Midway, but it takes almost two hours. The other option to travel between the two airports is to take a coach or shuttle, which take about an hour and cost from $20-$45.

Rental Car agencies are located outside of baggage claim, and taxi stands are located around several exits. For travelers getting picked up or dropped off, O’Hare has a Kiss ‘n Fly area located near the Airport Transit System, for quick access to the airport terminals while avoiding traffic.