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Chicago’s Airports Expect Busy Spring Break Travel Season

March 12, 2019 Airport No Comments Email Email

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) today announced that O’Hare and Midway International Airports are expecting increased passenger volumes during the March Spring Break travel season, based on airline projections. Beginning March 21 and through March 31, O’Hare will welcome 2.5 million passengers and Midway will welcome more than 670,000 passengers, a combined increase of over 3.5 percent over the same period in 2018.

This year, O’Hare’s busiest March day, March 22, is expected to see over 250,000 passengers, and Midway’s busiest day, March 23, will welcome more than 65,000 passengers. The CDA attributes the rising passenger volumes to Chicago O’Hare’s fast growing connectivity, with nearly 50 new flights added in 2018, and 29 more announced or begun in 2019.

“Chicago’s airports are prepared once again to ensure safe and happy travels for the millions of people visiting Chicago or on their way to enjoy spring vacations out of town,” said Jamie L. Rhee, CDA Commissioner. “As record travel volumes experienced throughout 2018 continue into 2019, I applaud our CDA operations staff, airline partners and the TSA for working hard to get passengers to their destinations safely and efficiently.”

Spring is a historically busy travel season for airports nationwide, and 2019 promises to continue this trend. The busiest days for Chicago’s airports align with forecasts by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), which announced it expects to screen approximately 107 million passengers from March 14 to April 28 nationally, an increase of more than three percent compared to the same period last year.
To help travelers prepare for the most efficient experience at O’Hare and Midway this year, CDA offers the following travel tips:

Consider public transportation. Train service on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) via the Orange and Blue Lines provides passengers an affordable, efficient route between downtown and the airports. During busy travel periods, taking the CTA to the airport can help passengers avoid increased road traffic. If you are traveling through domestic Terminals 1, 2 or 3, consider getting a ride to a Kiss’n’Ride lot at the Cumberland or Rosemont Blue Line station, where you can hop on the Blue Line for a fast ride directly to the Terminals.

ATS closure. The Airport Transit System (ATS), commonly known as the people mover, is closed for modernization until Fall 2019. The temporary closure of the ATS will create additional traffic around the terminal roadways at O’Hare. While the ATS is closed, around-the-clock shuttle bus service is available for transportation between terminals, the Multi-Modal Facility, and parking lots. For domestic Terminals 1, 2, and 3, buses to rental cars and parking lot F pick up on the lower level. Buses that travel between terminals and remote parking lots E, G, and H pick up on the upper level. For international Terminal 5, buses to rental cars and all remote parking lots pick up on the lower level.

Arrive early. Travelers are reminded to arrive at the airports two hours in advance of domestic flights, and three hours in advance of international flights. Consider adding time in your travel plans for traffic, parking, rental car returns and airline check-in.

Know what to pack. Follow TSA guidelines for packing carry-on and checked baggage, including rules for liquids.

While at O’Hare and Midway, travelers can enjoy new concessions, including Burger Federation, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Green Market at O’Hare and Big Shoulders Coffee, Arami, Big and Little, and Pork Chop at Midway. These new concessions are all part of major modernization efforts underway at both airports–O’Hare 21 and the Midway Modernization Program.

Through an $8.5 billion investment in O’Hare, we will deliver a terminal expansion complete with a new Global Terminal, additional gates, and improvements throughout our facilities to provide a streamlined experience from curb to gate. At Midway, investments will deliver an enlarged TSA checkpoint, expanded terminal parking garage, and a new concessions program that will make way for 70 new dining and retail locations. Together, these modernization programs will upgrade the passenger experience with new amenities added to every concourse and more flights added to further increase Chicago’s leading global connectivity. Both programs are expected to fuel tens of thousands of jobs and contracting opportunities for the community, making way for record inclusion of residents and local businesses at Chicago’s airports. For more information on opportunities and updates on these programs, please visit and

Travelers bound for Chicago’s airports this spring can make the most informed decisions about how to access any of the above airport services by visiting CDA’s website at Here, passengers can also find real-time information on flights, regular updates on traffic and weather, real-time taxicab wait times, and other special travel alerts.

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