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Chicago O'Hare International Airport
O'Hare Airport Logo.jpg
O'Hare International Airport (USGS).png
Airport type Public
Owner City of Chicago
Operator Chicago Department of Aviation
Serves Chicago
Location Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Opened February 1944 (1944-02)[1]
Hub for
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL 668 ft / 204 m
Coordinates 41°58′43″N 87°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472Coordinates: 41°58′43″N 87°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472
ORD is located in Chicago metropolitan area
ORD is located in Illinois
ORD is located in the US
ORD is located in North America
Location of airport in Chicago
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4L/22R 7,500 2,286 Asphalt
4R/22L 8,075 2,461 Asphalt
9L/27R 7,500 2,286 Concrete
9R/27L 7,967 2,428 Asphalt/Concrete
10R/28L 7,500 2,286 Concrete
10C/28C 10,801 3,292 Concrete
10L/28R 13,000 3,962 Asphalt/Concrete
15/33 9,686 2,952 Asphalt/Concrete
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 200 61 Concrete
Statistics (2016)
Passenger volume 77,960,588
Aircraft movements 867,635
Cargo (metric tonnes) 1,726,361.6
Economic impact (2012) $14.1 billion[4]
Sources: FAA[5] and airport's website.[6]
Statistics from ACI[7] and airport website.[8]

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORDICAO: KORDFAA LID: ORD), also known as O'Hare Airport, Chicago O'Hare, or simply O'Hare (/ˈhɛər/), is an international airport located on the Far Northwest Side of Chicago, Illinois, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of the Chicago Loop. It is the primary airport serving the Chicago metropolitan area, with Midway International Airport, which is about 10 miles (16 km) closer to the Loop and serves as a secondary airport. It is operated by the City of Chicago Department of Aviation.[9]

O'Hare was the busiest airport in the world by the number of takeoffs and landings in 2014, ahead of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which held the title from 2005 to 2013; however, it lost that title back to Atlanta a year later. Until 1998, O'Hare was also the world's busiest airport by the number of passengers; it was surpassed mainly due to limits the federal government imposed on the airport to reduce flight delays.[10] As of 2016, O'Hare is the sixth-busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, the third-busiest in the United States, and the busiest in the Midwest. O'Hare also has eight runways,[11] more than any other major international airport.[12] ORD covers 7,627 acres (3,087 ha) of land.[5]

As of January 2017, O'Hare has direct service to 208 destinations, including 153 domestic destinations in the United States and 55 international ones in North America, South America, Asia, and Europe, making it an international gateway to much of the American midwest.[13] It is among a select group of airports worldwide with the distinction of serving more than 200 destinations, along with Heathrow, Frankfurt, Atatürk, Amsterdam, Charles de Gaulle, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Munich, and Dubai.[citation needed] In 2017 O'Hare was ranked as the largest U.S. and 4th largest international megahub (airports with the highest ratio of possible scheduled international connections to the number of destinations served by the airport) according to OAG.[14]

O'Hare serves a major hub for United Airlines and American Airlines, as well as a hub for regional carrier Air Choice One, and a focus city for Frontier Airlines[2] and Spirit Airlines.[3] It is United Airlines' largest hub in both passengers carried annually (16.6 million in 2016) and daily flights (585 on average).[15] It is also American's third-largest hub, behind Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and third-largest by number of daily flights, operating 527 daily flights to 120 destinations, including 201 mainline flights daily.[16][17]

O'Hare was voted as the "Best Airport in North America" for 10 years by two separate sources: Readers of the U.S. Edition of Business Traveler Magazine (1998–2003) and Global Traveler Magazine (2004–2007).[18][19] In contrast, Travel and Leisure magazine's list of "America's Favorite Cities" (2009) ranked Chicago's Airport System (O'Hare and Midway) the second-worst for delays, behind the New York City airport system (JFK, Newark Liberty, and LaGuardia).[20] O'Hare accounts for nearly 20% of the nation's flight cancellations and delays.[21]


Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat on display in O'Hare's Terminal 2, restored in the markings of "Butch" O'Hare's plane

Not long after the opening of Midway Airport in 1926, the city of Chicago realized that additional airport capacity would be needed in the future. The city government investigated various potential airport sites during the 1930s, but made little progress until the 1940s.[22]

World War II[edit]

O'Hare was constructed in 1942–43 as part of a manufacturing plant for Douglas C-54s during World War II. The site, at Orchard Place 18 miles northwest of downtown, was chosen for its proximity to the city and transportation.[22][23] The two-million-square-foot (180,000 m²) factory needed easy access to the workforce of the nation's then-second-largest city, as well as its extensive railroad infrastructure.[23] The airfield, known informally as Douglas Airport, initially had four 5,500 ft runways.[22]

Douglas Company's contract ended in 1945 and though plans were proposed to build commercial aircraft, the company ultimately chose to concentrate production on the west coast.[22] With the departure of Douglas; the airfield took the name of Orchard Field Airport, the source of its three-letter IATA code ORD.[24]

In 1945, Chicago mayor Martin Kennelly established a formal board to choose the site of a new facility to meet future aviation demands. After considering various proposals, the board decided upon the Orchard Field site, and acquired most of the site from the federal government in March 1946. The military retained a small parcel of property on the site, and the rights to use 25% of the airfield's operating capacity for free.[22]

Ralph Burke, an engineer previously responsible for designing Meigs Field, designed an airport master plan based on a central complex of "split finger" terminals surrounded by ten runways. Burke's final plan in 1947 called for the runways to be arranged tangentially at different headings so that no runway would cross another. This aspect of the plan was changed during the 1950s, as jet aircraft required longer runways, and the airport ultimately adopted a combination of overlapping parallel runways in different orientations.[22]

Financing of the airport was a major concern. Chicago did not have sufficient funding for the project and encountered difficulty in obtaining financial support from airlines and the federal government.[22]

In 1949, the airport was renamed O'Hare International Airport to honor Edward O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's first flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. Its IATA code, "ORD", remained unchanged, however, resulting in O'Hare's IATA code bearing no connection to the airport's current name or metropolitan area.[24]

The United States Air Force used O'Hare extensively during the Korean War, at which time there was still no scheduled commercial service at the airport. In the early 1950s, debate raged in Chicago as to whether the Air Force should be removed from the site, or whether Chicago should sell the site back to the Air Force for use as a base. The Air Force eventually agreed to vacate O'Hare and relocate to a new base in the Chicago area.[22]

Commercial development[edit]

In 1953, while flying to an airshow at Naval Air Station Glenview north of Chicago, Blue Angels pilot LT Harding MacKnight experienced an engine flameout in his F7U Cutlass, forcing him to make an emergency landing at NAS Glenview.[citation needed] Traveling with him, LT "Whitey" Feightner was redirected to land at O'Hare.[citation needed] The runway had just been completed and was covered with peach baskets to prevent aircraft from landing until it was opened. LT Feightner was told to ignore the baskets and land on the new runway, and his F7U became the first aircraft to land there.[citation needed]

Scheduled passenger flights started in 1955 and at the end of 1956 O'Hare was served by American, BOAC, Braniff, Capital, Delta, Eastern, North Central, Pan Am, TWA and United, along with freight airlines Riddle and Slick.[25] O'Hare opened a $1 million "Skymotive" terminal for corporate aircraft in 1955, the first of its kind.[26]

Growth was slow at first. By 1957 Chicago had invested over $25 million in O'Hare, but Midway remained the world's busiest airport and airlines were reluctant to move all of their services to O'Hare until better highway access and other improvements were completed.[27] The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 10 weekday departures on United, 9 on American, 6 on Capital, 3 Eastern, 3 TWA, 2 Delta, 2 North Central, and 1 Braniff. Also three weekly Pan Am and one weekly BOAC (Air France and Lufthansa were at Midway). O'Hare's first dedicated international terminal opened in August 1958. By April 1959 the airport had expanded to 7,200 acres (29 km2) with new hangars, terminals, parking and other facilities. The expressway link to downtown Chicago, then known as the Northwest Expressway, was completed in 1960.[25]

Ground was broken for the main terminal complex (of which Terminals 2 and 3 remain today) on April 1, 1959.[28] The complex, designed by C. F. Murphy and Associates, opened on January 1, 1962.[28][29]

In July 1962 the last fixed-wing scheduled airline flight in Chicago moved from Midway to O'Hare. President John F. Kennedy attended a dedication ceremony in 1963. After Kennedy was assassinated later that year, the section of Interstate 90 between downtown Chicago and O'Hare was renamed in his honor.[25] The arrival of Midway's traffic quickly made O'Hare the world's busiest airport, serving 10 million passengers annually. Within two years that number would double, with more people passing through O'Hare in 12 months than Ellis Island had processed in its entire existence. By 1967, Midway was nearly abandoned, with barely 4,400 airline operations, but Chicago city officials reached an agreement with airlines, in late 1972, to shift some services back to Midway to ease the crowding at O'Hare.[30] (Midway enjoyed another revival after startup carrier Midway Airlines began low-cost service there in 1979–80.)[31] O'Hare remained the world's busiest airport (by airline operations) until 1998.[32]

Pre-deregulation service[edit]

American Airlines, United Airlines and Trans World Airlines had many routes to the West Coast, Northeast and Midwest. TWA flew to Europe nonstop from O'Hare starting in 1958.[33][34][35] Northwest Orient Airlines flew to the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Florida and Hawaii, and via Alaska to Japan and the Far East.[36] Their 747 to Tokyo was O'Hare's first nonstop to Asia, in 1977. Delta Air Lines served the Southeast and Midwest.[37]

During this era, international flights (other than Canada) used Concourses B and C in Terminal 1. Braniff, Eastern, Northwest, Continental and Piedmont used Concourse D in Terminal 2. United was the main tenant in Concourses E and F of Terminal 2, with Ozark also using gates in Concourse F. In Terminal 3, Concourse G served TWA and Air Canada, and Concourses H and K served American, Delta and North Central (later merged into Republic Airlines). Concourse A was, at one time, a satellite terminal for commuter airlines at the west end of the terminal complex.[38]

Post-deregulation developments[edit]

In the 1980s after deregulation, TWA replaced Chicago with St. Louis as its main mid-continent hub.[39] Although TWA had one of the largest Chicago operations during the late 1970s, its operation was losing $25 million a year under intense competition from United and American. TWA attempted to compete with an all-coach service to the West Coast at the lowest prices in the market, but American and United eventually matched TWA's fares during the recession of 1979–81, and TWA ended the service. In 1982, TWA swapped three of its Chicago gates for five of American's St. Louis gates, setting the stage for TWA's transition to St. Louis.[40]

Northwest likewise shifted to a Minneapolis and Detroit-centered network by the early 1990s following its acquisition of Republic Airlines in 1986.[41] On January 17, 1980, the airport's weather station became the official point for Chicago's weather observations and records by the National Weather Service.[42]

The nationwide hubs established at O'Hare in the 1980s by United and American continue to operate today. United developed a new US$500 million Terminal 1 ("The Terminal of the Future" or "Terminal of Tomorrow"), which was designed by Helmut Jahn and A. Epstein and Sons,[43] with Turner Construction as the construction manager,[44] and Thornton Tomasetti serving as the structural engineer.[45] It was built between 1985 and 1987 on the site of the old international terminal. Ground was broken for the new terminal complex in March 1985.[44] The terminal opened with 13 gates on June 15, 1987.[46] The terminal, which included ticketing and baggage claim areas, as well as 29 additional gates, was officially dedicated on August 4, 1987, with Mayor Harold Washington in attendance.[47] Concourse D of Terminal 2 was demolished in order to make way for the rest of the terminal, which was completed in December 1988.[48] American renovated its existing facilities in Terminal 3 from 1987 to 1990. These renovations were designed by Kober/Belluschi Associates, Inc. and Welton Becket & Associates.[49] Delta maintained a Chicago hub for some time, and opened a new Concourse L, initially known as the "Delta Flight Center", designed by Perkins and Will and Milton Pate & Associates, in Terminal 3 in 1983, but ultimately closed its Chicago hub in the 1990s.[49]

Total annual passenger volume at O'Hare reached 30 million in 1968, 40 million in 1976, 60 million in 1990 and 70 million in 1997.[25]

A $80 million renovation of Concourse G in Terminal 3 designed by Teng & Associates, Inc. began in the spring of 1999[50] and finished in the spring of 2001. The concourse was enlarged into a 144,500-square-foot (13,420 m2) facility with 25 remodeled gates. Six large "sky vaults", huge skylights atop V-shaped columns that bring natural light into a previously confined space, were constructed. A new 4,138-square-foot (384.4 m2) Admirals Club was also added to the concourse.[51]

Delta moved from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 in 2009 to align its operations with merger partner Northwest. Continental moved from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 in 2010 before merging with United.[52]

In 2013 the Chicago Department of Aviation appropriated a $19,500 two-year contract to use livestock, specifically goats, sheep, llamas, and burros, for grounds maintenance.[53] This plan resulted from difficulties in reaching certain areas around the runways with traditional lawn mowing machines due to rocky or sloped terrain.[54] About 25 animals were recruited chiefly to clear growing vegetation around the approximately 120-acre (49 ha) space around the runways.[55] A secondary reason for the introduction of the animals, especially the llamas and burros, was to reduce interference from wildlife such as coyotes and birds that may come when smaller prey settle in unmaintained, grassy areas.[56]



Runway layout at ORD

On October 17, 2013, O'Hare opened Runway 10C-28C. The opening of this eighth runway marked the completion of the Phase II expansion project. O'Hare landings have been reconfigured to predominately use a triple arrival scheme using three of the four parallel runways, with the fourth runway being used for takeoffs.

Before the opening of 10C-28C, the new runway, 9L/27R which opened in November 2008, O'Hare had seven runways in three roughly-parallel sets. The longest is Runway 10L–28R, 13,001 by 150 feet (3,963 m × 46 m). Runways 9L, 10C, 10L, 27L, 27R, 28C and 28R have Category III instrument landing systems (ILS),[57] allowing trained aircrews to conduct landings with as little as 600 feet (180 m) of horizontal visibility. All other runway approaches except 4L and 33 have full Category I ILS. Runway 4L is seldom used for landings and has a localizer, the horizontal guidance component of an ILS system, but does not have a glide slope, the vertical component. Runway 33 (former runway 32L) was permanently closed to landings when the section south of the crossing with Runway 10L/28R was closed due to 10C/28C construction.[58]

Prior to the runway reconfiguration, all of O'Hare's runways intersected each other with the exception of 4R/22L. This created problems in inclement weather, busy times, or high winds, and several near-collisions. The redevelopment, which essentially eliminates most active runway intersections, is intended to reduce collision hazards and delays.

The field opened with four clustered runways; in March 1950 all were 5,500 to 5,750 feet (1,680–1,750 m) long. Runway 14 (later 14L) became 7,345 feet (2,239 m) around 1952; the 8,000-foot (2,400 m) Runway 15/33 (former 14R/32L) opened in 1956 and became 11,600 feet (3,500 m) long in 1960. The 10,000-foot (3,000 m) 9R/27L (now designated 10L/28R) opened in 1968 and 14L became 10,000 feet (3,000 m) long around the same time. 4R/22L opened in 1971 and the new 9L/27R in 2008. In 2003 the fourth original runway, (18/36) closed; its short length, lack of use, and placement no longer justified certification. Runway 18/36 is now Taxiway M on airport charts. On August 19, 2015, Runway 14L/32R was closed.[59]

The redevelopment, when completed, will remove the two northwest–southeast runways (former 14/32 L/R), construct four additional east–west runways (10C/28C, 10R/28L, 9L/27R, and 9C/27C), and extend the existing east–west runways (9R/27L and 10L/28R). The two existing northeast–southwest (4/22 L/R) runways will be retained. Currently, three of the four new runways have been constructed (9L/27R, 10C/28C, and 10R/28L), and one of the two extensions (10L/28R) is complete.

In the earlier airfield layout, the former 32L was often used for takeoffs in a shortened configuration. Planes reached the runway at Taxiway T10 (common) or Taxiway N, formerly M (not common). This shortened the runway but allowed operations on Runway 10L/28R to continue without restriction. The full length of the runway was available upon request, though with the extension of 10L/28R it was usually not needed. In May 2010 Runway 15/33 was permanently shortened to 9,685 feet (2,952 m) and it now starts at Taxiway N.

O'Hare has a voluntary nighttime (2200–0700) noise abatement program.[60]

The runway reconfiguration at O'Hare will also improve the airport for future Airbus A380 service. On July 5, 2007 the runway previously designated 9R/27L became runway 10/28. On May 2, 2013, that same runway (10/28) became 10L/28R. On August 30, 2007, runway 9L/27R became 9R/27L.[61]

On September 25, 2008, a 2,857-foot (871 m) extension to 10L/28R opened.[62] On May 2, 2013, airport diagrams published by the FAA depicted the runway previously designated 10/28 as 10L/28R.[63]

Runway 10C/28C was commissioned and opened for regular use on October 17, 2013.[64] On October 17, 2013, airport diagrams published by the FAA depicted the runway as open.[57]

On October 15, 2015, Runway 10R/28L was commissioned. The new 7,500-foot runway will be used almost exclusively for landings toward the east up until 10 p.m. daily. The runway will increase arrival and departure rates at O'Hare by about 25 percent in good weather, all while handling only 5 percent of all daytime flights annually over the next five years. However, the runway sits on the southernmost part of the airfield which aligns roughly with Irving Park Road in Bensenville. Since the runway is several miles from the passenger terminals, the average taxi time is estimated at about 20 minutes. The cost of the runway and a taxiway was $516 million, and they are being controlled by a new air-traffic control tower that cost $41 million to build, according to the FAA and the Chicago Department of Aviation.[65]

Intra-airport transportation[edit]

Airport Transit System with Hilton Hotel in Background

Passengers within the airport complex can travel via a 2.5 mi (4 km)-long automated people mover that operates 24-hours a day, connecting all four terminals landside and the remote parking lots. The system began operation on May 6, 1993, and since the summer of 2015, has been undergoing a US$310 million enhancement that includes adding 36 new cars, upgrading the previous infrastructure, and extending the line 2,000 feet[66] to a new consolidated rental car facility where lot F is situated.[67][68]

Other facilities[edit]

Nippon Cargo Airlines has its Americas regional office on the O'Hare property.[69]

A large air cargo complex on the southwest side of the field opened in 1984, replacing most of the old cargo area, which stood on the site now occupied by Terminal 5. This complex sat right in the path for new runway 10C/28C, and was relocated between the new runways. An additional cargo facility located on the northeastern portion of the airfield is being built to supplement the southwest cargo area.[70]

The new North Terminal Air Traffic Control Tower was completed in September 2008 and commissioned for use on November 20, 2008.[71] The new tower was designed by DMJM Aviation-Holmes & Narver Aviation Partners JV (design principal Jose Luis Palacios).[72]

The USO has a facility in Terminals 2 and 3 for the use of traveling military personnel, as well as military recruits going to Recruit Training Command, which has a booth at O'Hare to coordinate transportation to Naval Station Great Lakes for Naval recruits arriving via airplane.[73]

Hilton O'Hare[edit]

Located within the airport structure, The Hilton O'Hare is nestled between the terminals and parking garage.[74]

Environment Profile[edit]

Along with several other airports around the world, O'Hare has used portions of some of its land to allow urban bee keeping. Intended to raise the environmental profile of airports – with 75 hives, O'Hare is the world's largest airport bee keeper, as of 2015.[75]


A terminal map of O'Hare Airport

O'Hare has four numbered passenger terminals with nine lettered concourses and a total of 182 gates.

With the exception of flights from destinations with U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance, all inbound international flights arrive at Terminal 5, as the other terminals do not have screening facilities. Several carriers, such as American, Iberia, Lufthansa and United, have outbound international flights departing from Terminals 1 and 3. This requires that passengers disembark at Terminal 5, and then crews tow the empty plane to another terminal for boarding. This is done, in part, to make connections for passengers transferring from domestic flights to international flights easier, since while Terminals 1, 2, and 3 allow airside connections, Terminal 5 is separated from the other terminals by a set of taxiways that cross over the airport's access road, requiring passengers to exit security, ride the Airport Transit System, then reclear security in either direction.

Terminal 1[edit]

United Airlines Terminal 1, Concourse B
United Airlines Terminal 1, Concourse C

Terminal 1 is used for United Airlines flights, including all mainline flights and some United Express operations, as well as flights for Star Alliance partners Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways. Terminal 1 has 50 gates on two concourses:

  • Concourse B – 22 gates
  • Concourse C – 28 gates

Concourses B and C are linear concourses located in separate buildings parallel to each other. Concourse B is adjacent to the airport roadway and houses passenger Check-ins, baggage claims, and security screenings on its landside and aircraft gates on its airside. Concourse C is a satellite terminal with gates on all sides, in the middle of the ramp, and is connected to Concourse B via an underground pedestrian tunnel under the ramp. The tunnel originates between gates B8 and B9 in Concourse B, and ends on Concourse C between gates C17 and C19. The tunnel is illuminated with a neon installation titled Sky's the Limit (1987) by Canadian artist Michael Hayden, which plays an airy and very slow-tempo version of "Rhapsody in Blue".

United operates three United Clubs in Terminal 1: one on Concourse B near gate B6, one located near gate B16, and one on Concourse C near gate C16. There is also a United First International Lounge and United Arrivals Suite in Concourse C near gate C18. Additionally, there is a United Polaris Lounge, near gate C18.[76]

Concourse B features an extension at its northern end (gates B18-B22) commonly called the "banana gates" due to the extension's narrow curved shape. The final gate, B22, branches off into three separate jetways for three regional jet parking positions.

Terminal 1 houses All Nippon Airways's Chicago office.[77]

Terminal 2[edit]

Terminal 2 houses Air Canada, Delta Air Lines and Delta Connection domestic flights, and most United Express operations (Check-in for all United flights is done in Terminal 1). Terminal 2 has 43 gates on two concourses.

  • Concourse E – 17 gates
  • Concourse F – 26 gates

There is a United Club in Concourse F near gate F8, and a Delta Sky Club in Concourse E near gate E6. US Airways operated out of Terminal 2 until it moved operations to Terminal 3 in July 2014, to be co-located with its merger partner American Airlines. Check-in for US Airways remained at Terminal 2 until September 16, 2014, when ticket counters relocated to Terminal 3.[78]

Terminal 3[edit]

American Airlines Terminal 3 Main Hall

Terminal 3 houses all American Airlines flights, as well as departures for select Oneworld carriers including Iberia and Japan Airlines, plus unaffiliated low-cost carriers. Terminal 3 has 75 gates (5 to be added) on four concourses:

  • Concourse G – 25 gates
  • Concourse H – 17 gates
  • Concourse K – 16 gates
  • Concourse L – 17 gates (5 to be added)[79]

Concourses G and L house most American Eagle operations, while Concourses H and K house American's mainline operations. American's Oneworld partners Japan Airlines, and Iberia depart from K19 and non-affiliated Alaska Airlines operates from H4. Concourse L is used also for flights operated by Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America, and Air Choice One. The City of Chicago and American Airlines have agreed to an extension of the L Concourse to add five new gates. The gates are expected to be used primarily for American Eagle's Embraer E-175 fleet. American has agreed to pay roughly $55 to $75 million and the gates are expected to be completed by 2018.[80]

American Airlines Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport

The airline has three Admirals Clubs in Terminal 3 and one Flagship Lounge. The main Club and Flagship Lounge is located in the crosswalk between gates H6 and K6, one after security before Gate L1, and one in Concourse G across from gate G8.[81]

Terminal 5[edit]

Terminal 5, with flags of countries around the world (taken prior to 2014 renovation)

Terminal 5 houses all of O'Hare's international arrivals (excluding flights with American Airlines and United Airlines from destinations with U.S. border preclearance.) Other destinations with U.S. border preclearance, including flights operated by Aer Lingus and Etihad Airways, arrive at Terminal 5, but are treated as domestic arrivals. With the exception of select Star Alliance and Oneworld carriers that board from Terminal 1 or Terminal 3 respectively, all non-U.S. carriers except Air Canada depart from Terminal 5. Terminal 5 has 21 gates (9 to be added) on one concourse:

  • Concourse M – 21 gates (9 to be added)

Terminal 5 has several airline lounges, including the Air France - KLM Lounge, British Airways First Class Galleries and Business Class Terraces Lounges, Korean Air Lounge, Scandinavian Airlines Lounge, Swissport Lounge, and Swiss International Air Lines First Class Lounge and Business Class Lounge. The airport's U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility is located at the arrival (lower) level.

Terminal 5 underwent a $26 million renovation designed by A. Epstein and Sons International, Inc., which began in July 2012, which involved adding dining and retail post-security, including many Chicago-based restaurants and brands, updated design, and a re-engineered layout. The project was completed on April 4, 2014. Terminal 5 is run by Westfield Management.[82]

O'Hare recently developed a gate capable of accommodating the world's largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. On February 10, 2016, the Chicago Department of Aviation approved the construction to build out a gate that could handle the Airbus aircraft.[83] The new gate, M11a is the only gate capable of handling the Airbus A380 and, like other gates in Terminal 5, is designated as "common use," meaning no specific airline has exclusive control over it. Emirates and British Airways expressed interest in using their A380s on routes involving O'Hare. The gate became operational on July 19, 2016, with Emirates being the first airline to use it.[84] British Airways announced on August 8, 2017 that the A380 would fly to O'Hare on one of its two daily flights starting May 8, 2018.[85]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aeroméxico Guadalajara, Mexico City
Air Canada Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau
Air Canada Express Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Air Choice One Burlington (IA), Decatur, Ironwood, Mason City
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air India Delhi
Alaska Airlines Anchorage, Los Angeles (begins April 25, 2018),[86] Portland (OR), San Francisco (begins April 25, 2018),[86] Seattle/Tacoma
Alitalia Seasonal: Rome–Fiumicino
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Haneda, Tokyo–Narita
American Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Beijing–Capital, Boston, Cancún, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, El Paso (begins April 3, 2018), Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Hartford, Kansas City, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia (ends April 3, 2017),[citation needed] Newark, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San José (CA), San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai–Pudong, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Tucson, Tulsa, Vancouver (begins May 4, 2018),[87] Washington–National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Barcelona, Cozumel, Dublin, Eagle/Vail, Guatemala City, Houston–Intercontinental, Jackson Hole, Jacksonville (FL), Indianapolis, Manchester (UK), Montego Bay, New Orleans, Norfolk, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Palm Springs, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Rome–Fiumicino, San José del Cabo, Venice (begins May 4, 2018)[88]
American Eagle Akron/Canton, Albany, Albuquerque, Appleton, Atlanta, Baltimore, Bangor (begins June 9, 2018),[89] Birmingham (AL), Bismarck, Bloomington/Normal, Boise, Buffalo, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Champaign/Urbana, Charlottesville, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbia (MO), Columbus–Glenn, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Dubuque, El Paso, Evansville, Fargo, Flint, Fayetteville (AR), Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Hartford, Hattiesburg/Laurel, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Knoxville, La Crosse, Lansing, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Manhattan (KS), Marquette, Memphis, Meridian (MS), Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Moline–Quad City, Montréal–Trudeau, Mosinee, Nashville, New Orleans, Newark, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Providence, Richmond, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Springfield/Branson, Syracuse, Toledo, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Tulsa, Washington–National, Waterloo (IA), White Plains, Wichita, Wilkes-Barre(begins June 7, 2018)
Seasonal: Aspen, Bozeman, Burlington (VT) (begins June 7, 2018),[90] Calgary (begins June 7, 2018),[87] Charleston (SC) (begins May 4, 2018),[87] Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Missoula (begins June 7, 2018),[90] Montrose, Myrtle Beach (begins June 9, 2018),[87] Portland (ME) (begins June 7, 2018),[90] Rapid City, Savannah (begins June 7, 2018),[90] Wilmington (NC) (begins June 7, 2018)[90]
American Airlines Shuttle New York–LaGuardia (begins April 4, 2018)[91]
Asiana Airlines Seoul–Incheon
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador
Bahamasair Nassau
British Airways London–Heathrow
Cape Air Decatur
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
Cayman Airways Seasonal: Grand Cayman
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai–Pudong
Copa Airlines Panama City
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma
Delta Connection Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Salt Lake City
Delta Shuttle New York–LaGuardia
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa (begins June 3, 2018)[92]
EVA Air Taipei–Taoyuan
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Frontier Airlines Cancún, Denver, El Paso (begins April 8, 2018),[93] Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Punta Cana
Seasonal: Charleston (SC) (begins May 11, 2018),[94] Colorado Springs, Fort Myers, Jacksonville (FL) (begins May 10, 2018),[95] Long Island/Islip (begins April 8, 2018),[96] Miami, Pensacola (FL) (begins May 12, 2018),[97] Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo, Tampa, Trenton
Hainan Airlines Beijing–Capital
Iberia Madrid
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík
Interjet Guadalajara, Mexico City
Japan Airlines Tokyo–Narita
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK
KLM Amsterdam
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon
LOT Polish Airlines Budapest (begins May 5, 2018),[98] Kraków, Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Norwegian Air Shuttle London–Gatwick (begins March 25, 2018)[99]
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Stockholm–Arlanda
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Cancún, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul (ends April 11, 2018),[citation needed] New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Orlando, San Diego, Tampa
Seasonal: Boston, Myrtle Beach, Oakland, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma (begins April 12, 2018),[100] West Palm Beach
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk
United Airlines Albany, Amsterdam, Aruba, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Beijing–Capital, Belize City, Boston, Brussels, Buffalo, Calgary, Cancún, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus–Glenn, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Hartford, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kahului, Kansas City, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Mexico City, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Munich, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San José (CA), San Juan, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai–Pudong, Spokane, Syracuse, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, Wichita
Seasonal: Albuquerque, Anchorage, Boise, Bozeman, Burlington (VT), Charleston (SC), Cozumel, Dublin, Edinburgh, Fairbanks, Grand Cayman, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Jackson Hole, Jacksonville (FL), Liberia, Mazatlán, Missoula, Montego Bay, Montrose, Myrtle Beach, Nassau, Palm Springs, Portland (ME), Providence, Providenciales, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Reno/Tahoe, Rome–Fiumicino, Sarasota, Saint Lucia–Hewanorra, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San José del Cabo, San Jose de Costa Rica, Savannah, Vail/Eagle, West Palm Beach
United Express Akron/Canton, Albany, Albuquerque, Allentown, Appleton, Asheville, Aspen, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham (AL), Bismarck (begins June 7, 2018),[101] Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Calgary, Cape Girardeau, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Champaign/Urbana, Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlotte, Charlottesville, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Clarksburg (WV), Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbia (MO), Columbia (SC), Columbus–Glenn, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Duluth, Eau Claire, El Paso (begins April 9, 2018),[102] Erie, Evansville, Flint, Fargo, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Fort Wayne, Fresno (begins June 7, 2018),[103] Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Houghton/Hancock, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jackson (MS), Jackson Hole (WY), Jacksonville (FL), Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lansing, Lewisburg (WV) (begins April 1, 2018),[104] Lexington, Lincoln, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile, Moline–Quad City, Monterrey, Montréal–Trudeau, Mosinee, Muskegon, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Paducah, Peoria, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Quincy, Providence, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Saginaw, Salina (begins April 9, 2018) [105] Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Savannah, Shenandoah Valley (begins April 1, 2018),[106] Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield (IL), Springfield/Branson, State College, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Tucson, Tulsa, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, West Palm Beach, White Plains, Wichita, Wilkes–Barre/Scranton, Wilmington (NC) (begins April 9, 2018),[107] Winnipeg
Seasonal: Bangor, Billings, Bozeman, Cody, Fort Myers, Great Falls, Gunnison/Crested Butte, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Kalispell, Key West, Miami, Missoula, Montrose, Myrtle Beach, Nassau, Québec City, Palm Springs, Pensacola, Raleigh/Durham, Rapid City, Sarasota, Sun Valley
Vacation Express Seasonal Charter: Cancun, Cozumel (begins July 6, 2018), Freeport (begins July 11, 2018), Punta Cana (begins February 26, 2018) [108]
Virgin America Los Angeles, Portland (OR) (begins March 12, 2018), San Francisco (all end April 24, 2018)[86]
VivaAerobus Seasonal: Cancún
Volaris Guadalajara, Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico City, Monterrey
WestJet Seasonal: Calgary
WOW air Seasonal: Reykjavík–Keflavík


There are two main cargo areas at O'Hare that have warehouse, build-up/tear-down and aircraft parking facilities. The Southwest Cargo Area, adjacent to Irving Park Road is divided among 9 buildings in two tiers. The Northeast Cargo Area (NEC), is an 8000,000 sq ft. yet to be completed project divided into three phases. Phase I is comprises a 540,0000 sq.ft building completed in 2016,[109] phase II is a 240,000 sq ft. building completed in 2017.[110] The final phase will add an additional 150,000 sq.ft of warehouse space, and when complete, the NEC will be able to accommodate up to 13 wide-body freighters.[111] The NEC is a conversion of the former military base (the 1943 Douglas plant area) and is adjacent to the northern portion of Bessie Coleman Drive.

Two satellite cargo areas have warehouse and build-up/tear down facilities, but aircraft do not park at these. Freight is trucked to/from aircraft on other ramps. The South Cargo Area is along Mannheim Road. The East Cargo Area, adjacent to Terminal 5, was formerly the airport's only cargo section but has now mostly evolved into an airport support zone.

Airlines Destinations Refs
AeroUnion Mexico City
AirBridgeCargo Airlines Amsterdam, Dallas/Fort Worth, Frankfurt, Houston–Intercontinental, Luxembourg, Moscow–Domodedovo [112]
Air China Cargo Anchorage, Beijing–Capital, Frankfurt, New York–JFK, Shanghai–Pudong, Tianjin
Air France Cargo Dublin, New York–JFK, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Prestwick
Asiana Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, New York–JFK, Seoul–Incheon, Seattle/Tacoma
ASL Airlines Belgium Liège
Atlas Air Anchorage, Miami, Seoul–Incheon
Cargolux Anchorage, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, New York–JFK, Zhengzhou
Cathay Pacific Cargo Anchorage, New York–JFK
China Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Houston–Intercontinental, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma
China Cargo Airlines Anchorage, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth
China Southern Cargo Shanghai–Pudong [113]
DHL Aviation Anchorage, Calgary, Cincinnati, Newark, New York–JFK
Emirates SkyCargo Brussels [114]
Etihad Cargo Abu Dhabi, Miami [115]
EVA Air Cargo Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth (begins May 2, 2018),[116] Taipei–Taoyuan
FedEx Express Fort Worth/Alliance, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Newark, Oakland, Seattle/Tacoma, Pittsburgh
Korean Air Cargo Anchorage, Halifax, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Toronto–Pearson
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, Los Angeles, Manchester (UK), Mexico City, New York–JFK [117]
Nippon Cargo Airlines Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth, Edmonton, Frankfurt–Hahn, Los Angeles, New York–JFK [118][119]
Qantas Freight Anchorage, Auckland, Chongqing, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Sydney [120][121][122][123]
Qatar Airways Cargo Amsterdam, Doha, Los Angeles, Milan–Malpensa [124][125][126]
Silk Way Airlines Baku [127]
Singapore Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, Brussels, Chennai Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Seattle/Tacoma [128]
Turkish Airlines Cargo Istanbul–Atatürk, Maastricht, Shannon, Toronto–Pearson [129][130]
UPS Airlines Cologne/Bonn, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Louisville, Philadelphia, Portland (OR)
Yangtze River Express Anchorage, Shanghai–Pudong


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from Chicago O'Hare
(December 2016 – November 2017)
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 New York–LaGuardia, New York 1,514,000 American, Delta, Spirit, United
2 Los Angeles, California 1,449,000 American, Frontier, Spirit, United, Virgin America
3 San Francisco, California 1,199,000 American, Frontier, United, Virgin America
4 Denver, Colorado 1,000,000 American, Frontier, Spirit, United
5 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 993,000 American, Spirit, United
6 Boston, Massachusetts 950,000 American, JetBlue, Spirit, United
7 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 937,000 American, Delta, Spirit, United
8 Atlanta, Georgia 884,000 American, Delta, Spirit, United
9 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 811,000 American, Frontier, Spirit, United
10 Washington–National, D.C. 791,000 American, United
Busiest International Routes to and from ORD (2016)[132]
Rank Airport Passengers Annual Change Carriers
1 United Kingdom London–Heathrow 1,037,444 Increase00.8% American, British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic
2 Canada Toronto–Pearson 887,663 Increase05.3% Air Canada, American, United
3 Japan Tokyo–Narita 685,067 Decrease03.9% All Nippon, American, JAL, United
4 Germany Frankfurt 607,328 Decrease02.5% Lufthansa, United
5 Mexico Cancún 522,129 Increase016.1% American, Frontier, United
6 Mexico Mexico City 488,015 Decrease01.2% Aeroméxico, Interjet, United, Volaris
7 China Beijing–Capital 413,448 Decrease03.1% American, Hainan, United
8 China Shanghai–Pudong 412,485 Increase028.4% American, United, China Eastern
9 Republic of Ireland Dublin 397,559 Increase018.5% Aer Lingus, American, United
10 Canada Montréal–Trudeau 393,089 Decrease02.1% Air Canada, American, United
11 Hong Kong Hong Kong 331,944 Decrease04.5% Cathay Pacific, United
12 Canada Vancouver 305,317 Increase010.0% Air Canada, United
13 France Paris–Charles de Gaulle 304,342 Decrease05.3% Air France, American, Delta, United
14 Germany Munich 297,918 Increase08.5% Lufthansa, United
15 South Korea Seoul–Incheon 276,795 Increase04.5% Asiana, Korean Air
16 Netherlands Amsterdam 251,141 Increase00.1% KLM, United
17 United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi 245,376 Increase08.6% Etihad Airways
18 Qatar Doha 224,654 Increase04.2% Qatar Airways
19 Turkey Istanbul–Atatürk 207,558 Increase05.2% Turkish Airlines
20 United Arab Emirates Dubai–International 204,539 Increase09.6% Emirates

Annual traffic[edit]

Traffic by calendar year[8]
Year Passenger volume Change over previous year Aircraft operations Cargo tonnage
2000 72,144,244 Decrease00.64% 908,989 1,640,524.1
2001 67,448,064 Decrease06.51% 911,917 1,413,834.4
2002 66,565,952 Decrease01.31% 922,817 1,436,385.7
2003 69,508,672 Increase04.40% 928,691 1,601,735.5
2004 75,533,822 Increase08.67% 992,427 1,685,808.0
2005 76,581,146 Increase01.38% 972,248 1,701,446.1
2006 76,282,212 Decrease00.30% 958,643 1,718,011.0
2007 76,182,025 Decrease00.15% 926,973 1,690,741.6
2008 70,819,015 Decrease07.03% 881,566 1,480,847.4
2009 64,397,782 Decrease09.07% 827,899 1,198,426.3
2010 67,026,191 Increase03.83% 882,617 1,577,047.8
2011 66,790,996 Decrease00.35% 878,798 1,505,217.6
2012 66,834,931 Increase00.04% 878,108 1,443,568.7
2013 66,909,638 Increase00.12% 883,287 1,434,377.1
2014 70,075,204 Increase04.45% 881,933 1,578,330.1
2015 76,949,336 Increase09.81% 875,136 1,742,500.8
2016 77,960,588 Increase01.31% 867,635 1,726,361.6

Modernization plan[edit]

O'Hare's high volume and crowded schedule can lead to long delays and cancellations that, due to the airport being a major hub, can have a ripple effect on air travel across North America. Official reports rank O'Hare as one of the least punctual airports in the United States based on percentage of delayed flights.[133] In 2004, United Airlines and American Airlines agreed to modify their flight schedules to help reduce congestion caused by clustered arrivals and departures. Because of the air traffic departing, arriving, and near the airport, air traffic controllers at O'Hare and its nearby facilities are among the leaders in the world in terms of number of controlled flights handled per hour.

City management has committed to a $6 billion capital investment plan to increase the airport's capacity by 60% and decrease delays by an estimated 79 percent.[134] This plan was approved by the FAA in October 2005 and will involve a reconfiguration of the airfield and addition of terminal space. The plan includes the addition of four runways, the lengthening of two existing runways, and the decommissioning of two existing runways in order to give the airfield six parallel runways in a configuration similar to that used at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and other large modern hub airports. This plan was very controversial as the added improvements, at the time they were proposed, were expected to increase the airport's air traffic capacity only slightly, given existing FAA rules. Additionally, the southernmost new runway would require the city acquiring additional land, which was extremely controversial as residents did not want to move.

The Modernization Plan is now being implemented; an additional runway and Air Traffic Control Tower were commissioned on November 20, 2008. The new north runway, designated 9L/27R, initially served as a foul weather arrival runway, addressing one of O'Hare's primary causes of delays, but now serves as one of three runways that can be used simultaneously for landings. An extension of Runway 10L/28R (formerly 10/28, and prior to that 9R/27L) to 13,001 feet (3,963 m) was commissioned for use on September 25, 2008,[71] facilitating the shortening and eventual closure of the 13,000 feet (4,000 m) Runway 15/33 (former 14R/32L). At the same time, the FAA redesigned the departure routes for both O'Hare and Midway airports, increasing the number from three shared by both airports to five from each airport. With the new runway's opening, O'Hare's maximum aircraft arrival capacity increased from 96 planes per hour to 112 planes per hour; United Airlines's senior vice president of operations, Joseph Kolshak, told The Wall Street Journal that within a month of the runway's opening, "they were consistently hitting that."[135]

As part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $7.3 billion infrastructure modernization plan, announced in March 2012, the airport would receive an additional $1.4 billion over three years to hasten the completion of the modernization effort.[136] The plan calls for accelerated completion of the fourth and final new runway as well as resumed negotiations with the airport's major airlines in an effort to boost O'Hare's overall capacity by 300,000 passengers per year by 2015.[137]

The modernization plan has required the acquisition of 126 acres (51 ha) of land in Des Plaines, Illinois; construction of runway 27R and the control tower cost $457 million and involved the rerouting of a creek and 14,000,000 cubic yards (11,000,000 m3) of fill to build up an embankment.."[135] 2,800 residents had to be relocated, as well as a cemetery with 900 known graves. The program ultimately is expected to expand the airport's capacity to over 3,800 operations per day, up from the present capacity of 2,700, and will vastly increase passenger throughput. It will also improve the ability of very large aircraft such as the Airbus A380 to operate.[138]

Flight caps in place since 2004 expired on October 31, 2008. American Airlines eliminated over 60 daily flights at O'Hare because of rising fuel prices. United announced similar cutbacks. Recent worldwide economic difficulties further complicate the forecasts for airport demand.[139]

After initially opposing the Modernization plan, DuPage County has endorsed the plan citing the creation of jobs, commercial development, and the ability of O'Hare to regain the status as busiest airport.[140]

  existing runway
  new runway
  removed runway

Resistance and alternatives[edit]

The neighboring communities of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village have been centers of resistance to the expansion plan, due to their proximity to the airport and because some of their residents and businesses would be required to relocate. Bensenville and Elk Grove Village formed the Suburban O'Hare Commission[141] to fight the expansion. So far, they have not had much success. The commission did receive a temporary injunction against portions of the city's expansion project; it was soon overturned, however. The Suburban O'Hare Commission has also been instrumental in pushing for a third regional airport in south suburban Peotone, which it claims would alleviate congestion at O'Hare. No airline has committed to the proposed airport, however, and planning efforts moved very slowly during 2007–08. In 2008, Elk Grove Village ended resistance. They received assurance that a proposed highway would not be built through their business park. In November 2009, Bensenville officially ended all resistance to the expansion, ceasing all legal challenges against the city of Chicago. They received a one-time $16-million payment from Chicago.[142] The city of Chicago also faced a five-year court battle to acquire a small, historical cemetery located within the space of their planned runway expansion. A settlement was finally reached in December 2012, between St. John United Church of Christ in Bensenville and the city of Chicago. The city agreed to pay the church $1.3 million for the 5-acre (2.0 ha) parcel on the west side of the airport, which included a 2-acre (0.81 ha) burial ground established by the church in 1849. All told, 1,494 bodies were disinterred from the St. Johannes Cemetery and reburied at various cemeteries throughout the region.[143]

In 1995, the Chicago/Gary Airport Compact was signed by the cities of Chicago and Gary, Indiana, creating a new administration for the Gary/Chicago International Airport just across the state line. While markedly smaller than the proposed Peotone site, this airport already has more land and a longer main runway than Midway Airport. Gary is also many miles closer than Peotone to downtown Chicago. In addition public transportation is already in place to the Loop via the South Shore Line. Indiana and the FAA have provided significant funding for a Gary runway expansion, currently under construction. The issue here is a large portion of the revenue that is generated would go to the state of Indiana as opposed to Chicago and the state of Illinois, the very entities the airport would mainly serve.[144]

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) in Rockford, Illinois has also marketed itself as an alternative for congestion at O'Hare. It is at least a 1-1/2-hour trip to Rockford from the Chicago Loop. Currently there is no direct transportation service from downtown Chicago or O'Hare to Rockford airport, but airline service at the airport continues to grow. Larry Morrissey, the current mayor of Rockford, has pushed for a high-speed rail connection between the two airports to make the Rockford airport a more convenient alternative to O'Hare.

General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee has consistently attempted to increase its usage by Chicago and Northern Illinois customers, especially with the opening of an Amtrak station directly west of Mitchell providing service from Chicago Union Station via the Hiawatha Service seven times per day; O'Hare and Mitchell have no direct rail link.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The following is a list of crashes or incidents that happened on planes at O'Hare or on approach or just after takeoff from the airport.[145]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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