The Ultimate Chicago O’Hare International Airport Guide
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There are many things you should know about the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. If you want to learn more, check out this guide.
A hub for American and United Airlines, Chicago O’Hare International Airport is the busiest in the US, jostling with Atlanta for its title. This modern and sprawling airport sees over 900,000 flights a year, so if you fly anywhere in the US, you’ll probably visit O’Hare sooner or later.
When you’re flying into or out of O’Hare, you’ll want your journey to be as smooth as possible. As this airport is so busy, it’s useful to know the easiest places to go to eat, drink, and relax. From how to get there to which lounges are available, you’ll be able to make the most of your time in the airport without the stress.
Read on to get the down-low on Chicago O’Hare.
How to Get to and from O’Hare
17 miles from Chicago itself, O’Hare airport is well-connected with transport links.
The Chicago Transit Authority’s Rapid Transit Train operates 24 hours a day from Forest Park to the Chicago Loop and onto O’Hare via the Blue Line ‘L’ Train. It takes around 40 minutes to get from the Loop to O’Hare airport and costs less than $5.
You can take a shuttle bus service from O’Hare to suburbs or downtown with pickups from any of the terminals. These shared shuttles can be booked in advance and drop you and other passengers off at different hotels or locations around the city.
Taxis can be found at the official taxi stands outside the baggage claim areas of each terminal. Only ever use a licensed taxi at an official stand and check they are using a meter. Taxis from O’Hare to downtown cost around $30-40 depending on the traffic and the Illinois Airport Departure Tax is payable on rides leaving the airport.
The most relaxing way to get to or from O’Hare airport is by using a private driver. When you book one of our O’Hare VVVIP packages, we’ll greet you at the gate upon your arrival, help you with immigration, customs, and luggage before whisking you to wherever you want to go.
If you’re leaving from O’Hare, we’ll take you directly to the airport and show you to the luxury airport lounge. There you can relax while we deal with everything else.
How Many Terminals Are There?
Chicago O’Hare has four terminals, although as they’re numbered 1, 2, 3, and 5, it can be confusing. Terminals 1, 2, and 3 are primarily domestic terminals although some international flights do depart from them.
Terminal 5 is often known as the international terminal as all international flights land here and most depart from this terminal too.
If you need to get between the terminals for connecting flights or other transport links, you can walk between terminals 1, 2, and 3. While O’Hare’s Airport Transit System to terminal 5 is currently closed for renovation, there are regular and reliable shuttle buses in its place.
There are big changes happening in O’Hare airport so keep reading to discover what you can do at the airport and how a new terminal will transform Chicago.
What to Do in O’Hare Airport While You Wait
You might have to spend several hours waiting for your flight and if a delay happens, it could be even longer. Luckily, Chicago O’Hare is a good place to pass the time as there’s plenty to do.
No matter which terminal you’re flying from, you’ll find a fantastic range of dining options from delicious grab and go snacks to gourmet cuisine. With Chicago inspired food like hot dogs and pizza to international restaurants and glitzy bars, dining in O’Hare is a special experience.
America’s Dog on concourse C has a wide range of exceptional Chicago hot dogs that make the perfect quick bite for anyone with a craving. Grab a sandwich or panini at the Berghoff Cafe for lunch or a tasty omelet for breakfast.
Beaudevin is the place to go if you fancy a relaxed glass of fine wine and a small plate of exquisite food. With specialty coffees too, this beautiful outlet is the perfect place to wait for evening flights.
If you’re departing from Terminal 2, you can still get your hot dog fix at Chicago Style Hot Dogs on Concourse E. Chili’s Too is ideal for burgers and grills if you need a decent sit-down meal to keep you going.
The Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi bar is one of Terminal 2’s best spots for delicious food made right before your eyes.
Tortas Frontera is the place to go for mouthwatering Mexican food while Rush Street Bar is a perfect pre-flight cocktail bar. O’Brien’s Restaurant & Bar serves hamburgers, salads, and amazing steak sandwiches that will keep you full for your whole flight.
Dine at Wow Bao if you love Asian food. Enjoy steamed buns, noodle bowls, and classic teriyaki chicken for lunch or dinner. Urban Olive is all about Mediterranean dishes with Greek salads, falafel, and sharing platters.
R. J. Grunts Burgers & Fries serves filling meals and in Hub 51 you can get a cocktail and enjoy a range of varied dishes to go with it.
Each terminal has a great range of local and international shops to browse while you’re waiting for your flight. Get a new bestseller at a Barbara’s Bookstore outlet in any terminal and buy your souvenirs from Hudson’s News & Gifts.
With shops like Emporio Armani, Michael Kors, and MAC Cosmetics, O’Hare is a wonderful place to shop for high-end goods too. If you’re flying somewhere hot, check out Oakley or the Sunglass Hut for a new pair of sunnies.
Things to Do
Chicago O’Hare displays art throughout its terminals and seeking out these beautiful displays is a lovely way to enjoy the airport. If you’re in terminal 1, you can’t miss its phenomenal display, The Sky’s the Limit.
This neon, tunnel-like display is 23,600 sq ft of mirrors lit by 466 neon tubes in many different colors. It’s the stunning and attention-grabbing piece of art that O’Hare is most famous for.
If you have some time to kill, why not get in some exercise? Visit the Hilton Athletic Club just outside terminal 2 to use the gym, sauna, and pool. In terminal 3 you can even visit the Yoga Room to relax and recuperate before your flight.
Spread across three locations, the Terminal Gateway Spa outlets are ideal if you need a little TLC. Kick back and get a manicure or a massage so you’ll be well prepared for wherever you’re going.
There’s unlimited free WiFi throughout all terminals both before and after security so you can always be online. Choose from “Boingo Hotspot” or “_Free_ORD_WiFi” and open a webpage to connect. You’ll have to watch an ad to complete your connection and then you’re free to browse as you like.
If you’re worried about running out of phone battery, there are free charging zones throughout all terminals with seating and workstations.
Airport lounges are the most relaxing places to get some peace before your flight. When you book our VVVIP airport services, we’ll take you straight to a luxury lounge where you can enjoy snacks, drinks, and all the amenities.
Chicago O’Hare has many airport lounges to choose from and you can often purchase day passes if required.
Relax in terminals 1, 3, and 3 at the United lounge or the United Polaris Lounge for international first-class and business travelers. In these terminals, you’ll also find the Delta, American Flagship, and Admiral’s Club lounges.
In terminal 5, you’ll find the British Airways First and British Airways Terraces lounges. There’s also the AirFrance/KLM lounge, Swissport and Swiss International/Austrian lounge.
Airport lounges have bars, high-speed WiFi, snacks, and often spa treatments.
Chicago O’Hare Airport in the Future
Chicago O’Hare might already be the busiest airport in the US but they’re not resting on their laurels. The ORD21 is an $8.5 billion project that will transform O’Hare airport into a sleek, efficient transport hub for the future.
International flights will be moved to the new Global terminal and concourse so all passengers will be under one roof. That means no more shuttling between terminals.
The new terminal will be 2.2 million square feet and will be a unique architectural design. There’s slated to be increased space for amenities and lounges as well as a new, state-of-the-art luggage system for maximum efficiency and security.
While the Global Terminal isn’t due to be finished until 2028, it’s going to be worth waiting for so start planning a trip out of O’Hare for then!
Fly in Style from Chicago O’Hare International Airport
O’Hare is a gateway to domestic and international destinations. With luxury lounges, excellent dining options, and spa treatments for pre-flight relaxation, you won’t mind waiting for your flight here.
For the most relaxing arrival or departure, book our Gate-To-Gate service or one of our other O’Hare VIP airport services and rest easy that everything will be taken care of. From immigration, customs, and luggage to lounge entry and getting to your hotel, we ensure your visit is stress-free.
Get in touch with us to discuss your requirements and we look forward to seeing you in Chicago!
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