• Airport Tips ‘n’ Tricks: Chicago O’Hare

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    Dominique Betancourt
    We’re back with another installment in a series of featured tips n’ tricks for major airports. Previous posts in this series include Atlanta and Minneapolis.

    As a native Chicagoan, I know a thing or two about flying in and out of one of the world’s busiest airports. (Plus I have a lot of friends that fly too!) This airport is also growing, with a new runway slated to open in October 2013 and an eighth runway and second air traffic control tower in the works for 2015.

    Water bottle filler

    You can refill your water bottle easily, but currently, only in domestic terminals. (Photo by Dominique Betancourt)

    Some of these tips are good for anyone using Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. For example, if you’re refilling a water bottle, currently only domestic terminals have the bottle refiller stations at the drinking fountains. Others are best broken down by how you are using the airport. Here are a few tips for your next trip.

    Departing from O’Hare

    • The outlying security check-ins at either end of any terminal are usually the least crowded. That’s especially true in the American Airlines terminal, where the line to the right is typically faster.
    •  To compare long term and short term parking there a couple websites that can help. Airport Parking Reservations to reserve a spot, read reviews, and more but IFly has a map that I think makes it easier to see determine which lot would make the most sense. If you’re running late though, request valet parking. Navigating those lots can be no less than a labyrinth and could cost you your flight!
    • To get to Concourse C in Terminal 1, you do need to give yourself a little extra time. It’s a little walk underground with funky lights lighting the way overhead.


    Where to eat at O’HareCheck out this rundown of best places to eat at ORD from Chicago Eater.

    Arriving at O’Hare

    • If you have a meeting anywhere downtown, it makes the most sense both economically and timewise to take the CTA Blue Line to Clark/Lake. Then you can take a cheap cab to your exact location.
    • There’s a short term parking lot if you veer off to the left before the departure gates you can park and pay $2 for up to an hour. From there you can actually go meet your guest and help them with their bags
    • Chicago does have Uber, so if you’re a black car kind of person you can use that app to secure a pickup anywhere. Track your driver and know their name before they pick you up.

    Just passing through

    • Use the shuttle around gate C8 to transfer to F instead of walking – it cuts out 15-20 minutes if flying United Express.
    • The one thing I have heard about the International Terminal is no real food options! I’d head over to Terminal 1 as there is a new sushi bar that opened up and lots of food options if you have any kind of layover.


    Of course, it always makes sense to follow the airport on Twitter. I’m sure there plenty of other great tips out there. Post your comments of tips you have picked up at O’Hare.

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