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Illinois Travel Guide

Illinois — Airports

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Chicago’s main airport is the largest in Illinois, the Midwest and often trades off as the busiest in the country with Atlanta Hartsfield. Each year, more than 66 million passengers fly into O’Hare, nearly half of them on United Airlines alone. American Airlines is the second busiest carrier at O’Hare, handling around 37 percent of the passenger traffic. Many other US and international airlines run regular service into Chicago’s efficient and convenient airport. The busiest domestic route is to New York, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Dallas/Fort Worth. The main international route is to London Heathrow, then Toronto (Canada), Frankfurt (Germany), and Tokyo (Japan).

There are four terminals at the airport, each with a complete set of passenger services. Terminals 1 to 3 handle domestic flights, while all international flights fly into Terminal 5. Travelers in Illinois will find a broad selection of eateries, gift shops, and travel sundry shops in each terminal along with facilities like VIP lounges, ATMs, and currency exchange kiosks in the International Terminal.

Transportation is provided by the Airport Transit System (ATS) light rail trains that run into the city center, shared airport shuttles, taxis, limousines, and car rentals. The airport is 17 miles north of downtown Chicago, which is easily accessible by major highway or the Blue Line of the el train. Seven car rental companies, including Hertz, Budget, and Enterprise have offices outside of Baggage Claim in terminals 1, 2, and 3.

Chicago Midway International Airport

Chicago’s second airport, located eight miles south of downtown Chicago, is called Midway. It mainly handles domestic flights dominated by Southwest Airlines with a limited number of seasonal international charter flights. Every year, more than 18 million people fly into Midway, making it Illinois’ second-busiest airport. Delta, AirTran, and Frontier are the other three carriers with regular service to Midway. The busiest routes are to Atlanta and Denver, followed by Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Phoenix. It’s a very useful airport for travelers flying budget carriers who want to avoid the bustle and stress of O’Hare.

There are three concourses within a single terminal at Midway. A small number of eateries, shops, and passenger services are on hand both before and after security. Wi-Fi internet is available. Midway is very close to downtown Chicago, which can be reached via the CTA’s Orange Line train in just 10 minutes. Shared airport shuttles, taxis, limos, and rental cars are the other transportation options. There are eight major car rental companies with desks outside of Baggage Claim, including Budget, Dollar, and Thrifty. There is also complimentary shuttle service between Midway and O’Hare airports.

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