Chicago’s Airports Ready To Welcome Travelers For A Busy And Safe Thanksgiving Travel Week

November 22, 2021

Historically one of the busiest travel periods of the year, O’Hare and Midway expect to see more than twice the number of passengers that passed through last year

CDA Media Relations    773.686.3700 |

CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is preparing for a busy and safe holiday travel week at both O’Hare and Midway International Airports. O’Hare expects to welcome over 1.2 million passengers between Tuesday, November 23 and Monday, November 29 – an increase of 155% over the comparable time period last year, based on projections from airline carriers. Midway will host 102% more passengers, with approximately 288,000 expected. The busiest day at both airports will be Sunday, November 28, with significant numbers also expected on Tuesday, November 23 and Wednesday, November 24.

“We are excited to welcome travelers to Chicago’s airports and help make it possible for families to gather for this holiday week,” said CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “There is no greater priority for us than providing a safe, secure and reassuring environment for travelers and employees alike.”

For everyone planning to travel through the airports, please remember these guidelines for a smooth travel experience:

  • Wear your mask – In accordance with federal law, masks must be worn at all times by everyone over the age of two in the airport and on airplanes. 
  • Arrive early – With added security measures and resurgent travel demand, you may encounter longer lines at airline check-in, security screening and concessions. (read additional recommendations from the Transportation Security Administration at
  • Prevent traffic congestion – Avoid the busy curb dropoff and consider arriving at O'Hare on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line or getting dropped off at the Kiss 'n' Fly area at the Multi-Modal Facility, now served by the Airport Transit System (ATS) to all terminals. Midway is accessible via the CTA Orange Line or the Kiss 'n' Fly area at 59th St and Kilpatrick Ave. For those picking up travelers, avoid circling and utilize the cell phone lots available at each airport (560 N. Bessie Coleman at O'Hare and 61st St/Cicero Ave) to wait for your arrivals to call you. 
  • Visit – The website contains real-time information about flights, parking updates, taxicab wait times, available concession businesses and other special alerts for the traveling public. 

Amenities for Family Travelers 

The Fly with Butch O’Hare Family Lounge has reopened at Terminal 2 in O’Hare International Airport. Kids can explore and play while parents can charge up at device charging stations along the colorful seating. Mother’s Rooms are available in each terminal and the Multi-Modal Facility at O’Hare and in Concourse C at Midway. For family dining, many concessions at both O’Hare and Midway offer kids menus or family-friendly items for purchase. Many locations offer views of the airplanes.

Finally, keep your little ones hands busy with the Chicago Airports’ Activity & Coloring Book. Free copies are available at airport information desks or for download at  


Food, beverages and essentials are available at both airports. While a few businesses remain closed, there are many concessions offering a variety of options at O’Hare and Midway

Midway Airport also offers new low-contact purchase options. Passengers can order food delivered to their gate through or by scanning the QR codes at the gate. Hudson Nonstop in Concourse B offers Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology for a streamlined and contact free checkout experience.  

Ground Transportation 

Whether a passenger departing on a flight or a family or friend dropping off/picking up, please consider ways to streamline and avoid the very busy curbside traffic. Everyone should arrive early and allow plenty of time. Ongoing improvements of the Lower Level Utility and Pavement Replacement (LLUPR) Project at O’Hare may impact traffic and cause additional delays in the arrivals lanes near Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

Consider taking public transportation. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line serves O’Hare, while the Orange Line brings people to Midway. More information at

The newly reopened Airport Transit System (ATS) at O’Hare will operate with extended hours from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. from Sunday, November 21 to Sunday, November 28. The fully-automated train system transports passengers to and from Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 5, as well as the Multi-Modal Facility (MMF) for rental cars, Economy Parking Lot F, Kiss 'n' Fly, Pace buses and Metra.

For those parking, short- and long-term options are available. Visit O’Hare Parking and Midway Parking for real time updates. Traffic updates are also available on Midway’s Radio Station (1630 AM) within a one-mile radius of the airport.

If you’re dropping off passengers, please utilize the Kiss 'n' Fly areas at the Multi-Modal Facility at O’Hare and at 59th St and Kilpatrick Ave at Midway.

And for those picking up, avoid circling and wait in the free cell phone parking lots available at 560 N. Bessie Coleman at O'Hare and 61st St/Cicero Ave at Midway. Your passengers can then call you when they are outside and ready for pickup. 

Holiday Activities 

Both airports are sparkling with the holiday spirit, with festive holiday decorations adorning the terminals throughout the winter season.

On Tuesday, November 23 and Wednesday, November 24, visitors will be treated to a variety of live entertainment at both O’Hare and Midway, and seasonal entertainment will continue throughout the month of December.

In addition to the recently reopened O’Hare family lounge, the yoga rooms at both airports have reopened for a tranquil space to stretch or meditate.  

Volunteers will be stationed at airport information booths throughout the holiday week at both O'Hare and Midway to provide additional assistance to passengers.


Travelers bound for Chicago’s airports can make the most informed decisions about how to access any of the above airport services by visiting  The website contains real-time information about flights, parking updates, taxicab wait times, available concession businesses and other special alerts for the traveling public. 

Additionally, two videos, produced by the CDA in conjunction with Choose Chicago, explain what to expect for those who haven’t traveled by air recently: 

The public is reminded that access to airport terminals at both O’Hare and Midway International Airports is restricted at all times to ticketed passengers, those assisting passengers, badged employees, and others with legitimate airport business.


About the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA): The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to over 260 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago’s airports serve more than 105 million passengers each year and generate approximately $60 billion in annual economic activity for the region. Please visit to learn more about the Chicago Department of Aviation. 



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