Airline Projections Show 1.56 Million People To Travel Through Chicago’s Airports Over Busy Memorial Day Weekend

May 25, 2023

O’Hare, Midway Ready to Receive Passengers at Start of Summer Travel Season


Chicago’s airports are prepared to welcome more than 1.56 million travelers to O’Hare and Midway International Airports between Thursday, May 25, and Tuesday, May 30, based on projections from air carriers, an 8.9% increase over the same period last year. 

“There’s no time like summertime in Chicago, and I welcome the 1.5 million people who will make their way to and through our city as we kick off the summer travel season,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “I encourage visitors to explore our city’s 77 beautiful and unique neighborhoods, enjoy our world-class restaurants, and take in the music and street festivals and so much more that make us a global travel destination.” 

 “With live entertainment, new art installations, new concessions, and upgraded facilities, there’s never been a better time to travel through Chicago’s airports,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee of the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). “O’Hare and Midway are ready to kick off summer travel in style and welcome visitors from all over the globe to the best city in the world.” 

Compared to the same travel period last Memorial Day, O’Hare is expected to see a passenger increase of 7.7%, and airlines project that Thursday, May 25, will be the busiest day. 

Meanwhile, at Midway, airlines project a tremendous 20.7% increase in passenger loads when compared to the same period in 2022, with the busiest day expected to be Friday, May 27. 

Chicagoans and visitors alike should be mindful of the following tips and tricks to ensure an enjoyable visit to the airport: 


Prevent Traffic Congestion 

Traffic back-ups into both O’Hare and Midway are common on busy holiday travel weekends like Memorial Day.  

The following tips can help visitors avoid congestion and minimize airport traffic:  

  • Cell Phone Lots are completely free and available at both airports. Avoid circling and wait in the convenient parking lots until arriving passengers call to say they are ready for pickup. The O’Hare Cell Phone Lot is at 560 N. Bessie Coleman Drive, and the Midway Cell Phone Lot is located at West 61st Street and South Cicero Avenue. 
  • Consider taking the CTA Blue Line to O’Hare and the CTA Orange Line to Midway to avoid the curbside crowds. Metra’s North Central Service also offers weekday service from downtown Chicago’s Union Station to the O’Hare transfer station next to the Multi-Modal Facility (MMF), with access to the Airport Transit System (ATS).  
  • Kiss n’ Fly drop-offs are located at both airports. At Midway, passengers can be dropped off at West 59th Street and South Kilpatrick Avenue and take a short walk into the terminals. At O’Hare, passengers can be dropped off at the Multi-Modal Facility, 10255 W. Zemke Blvd., and board the ATS for a short ride to all terminals. 


Kennedy Expressway Construction 

A three-year construction project on the Kennedy Expressway currently blocks two lanes on the inbound Kennedy, meaning that travel by car between O’Hare International Airport and the city may be substantially delayed, particularly during rush hour. All O’Hare passengers should consider utilizing public transportation options to enter or depart from the city, including the CTA Blue Line and Metra’s North Central Service. 

If traveling by car, passengers should budget extra time for travel, particularly those leaving from the city for O’Hare during the evening rush hour, and those entering the city from O’Hare during the morning rush hour, when overall travel times between O’Hare and the Loop can top 1 hour and 20 minutes. More information on the construction schedule is available from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)


Make a Parking Plan
All passengers planning to park their vehicle at O’Hare are encouraged to check the status of parking lots before leaving for the airport at Economy Lots, in particular, often reach capacity during busy holiday travel periods. Passengers are encouraged to consider booking a parking spot ahead of time for O’Hare at Lot status and advance reservations for Midway’s lots are also available on


Honoring Those Who Served 

Two new exhibits have opened at both O’Hare and Midway in the past eight months to honor the stories of men and women who served America in World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Developed in partnership with Belmont Village Senior Living, the specially curated exhibit features portraits of dozens of Chicago-area veterans. The exhibit at Midway is located pre-security in the hallway connecting the terminal to the Midway Orange Line Station. At O’Hare, the exhibit is located on the secure side of the airport in Terminal 3, in the hallway that connects to Gates L20 through L24. For more information, visit the exhibit’s website

Additionally, active-duty military personnel and veterans receive discounts not only this weekend but every single day at O’Hare and Midway airports. Simply show an ID or mention your service when checking out and receive each discount. Some limitations apply, visit for full details on what’s offered at O’Hare and what discounts are available at Midway


Regional Bus Relocations 

Effective on Thursday, June 1, all passengers who need to connect to a regional bus service will need to transfer from the terminals to the Multi-Modal Facility aboard the ATS. 

The regional bus services moving to the MMF include: 

  • Coach USA/Van Galder — with service to Rockford, Ill., South Beloit, Ill., Janesville, Wis., and Madison, Wis.  
  • Express Air Coach (EAC) — with service to Champaign/Urbana, Ill., Elgin, Ill., West Lafayette, Ind., and Hammond, Ind.  
  • Lafayette Limo — with service to locations on Purdue University’s campus in West Lafayette, Ind.  
  • Peoria Charter Coach — with service to Peoria, Ill., Normal, Ill., and Champaign/Urbana, Ill.  
  • Reindeer Shuttle — with service to Purdue University’s campus in West Lafayette, Ind., and continuing service to Indianapolis International Airport. 
  • Wisconsin Coach USA — with service to Kenosha, Wis., Racine, Wis., Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee, Wis., and Brookfield, Wis. 

These buses will continue to pick up at the Bus Shuttle Center through Wednesday, May 31. 


ORD Rideshare Consolidation
As part of an ongoing effort to improve ground operations at O’Hare International Airport, passengers are reminded that all pickups for rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft will take place in the Upper Levels Departures section of Terminal 2. This designated rideshare area is a short walk from Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. Passengers arriving into Terminal 5 will need to transfer to Terminal 2 aboard the ATS to for rideshare pickups. All rideshare apps can drop off at all terminals as usual, and taxi and black car pickups are still offered at all of O’Hare’s terminals. 


Traveling With Disabilities 

In partnership with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the CDA recently posted two new videos summarizing the offerings available at each airport for individuals who are disabled. Released on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the videos are available with and without audio descriptions for both O’Hare and Midway at 


Terminal 5 Updates 

The grand opening of the new extension of Terminal 5 was celebrated at O’Hare earlier this year. The four-year, $1.3 billion investment constructed 10 new gates, renovated 10 existing gates, and expanded the structure by approximately 350,000 square feet. 


Other key updates at Terminal 5 include: 

  • Parking at Lot D remains extremely limited during the construction of a new, six-story parking garage that will serve the terminal when it opens next year. Visitors picking up passengers at Terminal 5 are encouraged to utilize the free Cell Phone Lot on Bessie Coleman Drive. 
  • Service aboard the Terminal Transfer Bus resumed this spring. The secure, airside bus service simplifies layovers for millions of passengers who connect through the world’s best-connected airport each year. Service runs every 15 minutes between Terminal 5 and the core terminals, with pickup locations at Gate B1 in Terminal 1, Gates G17 and K20 in Terminal 3, and Gate M13 in Terminal 5. 


Arrive Early 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may experience longer wait times at checkpoints given the influx of travelers. Real-time updates for O’Hare TSA checkpoints are available at   

At O’Hare, a CLEAR Lane and enrollment options are now available in Terminal 5 for PreCheck-eligible travelers and standard security. CLEAR Lanes are also available at O’Hare Terminals 1 and 2, and at Midway.  

To expedite the screening process, travelers should consult TSA guidelines to ensure there are no prohibited items in their carry-on or checked baggage, and that all foods are packed in accordance with the TSA’s rules regarding liquids.  


Entertainment and Promotions 

Live entertainment from the Return2Soul band will be available in the O’Hare Terminal 3 Rotunda from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday, May 26. Mike Hudson Band will also perform on Friday, May 26 at Midway’s Central Market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Looking for some ORD swag? Travelers passing through Terminal 1 can grab some free giveaways between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, in Concourse B near the Field Museum’s brachiosaurus dinosaur. Travelers at Terminal 3 can score their swag from 11 a.m. To 1 p.m. on Friday, May 26 near the Chili’s in the Main Hall. 


New Concessions Offerings 

New restaurants and shops continue to open at Chicago’s airports. Travelers at Midway are invited to sample the new Orange Line Restaurant in Concourse B for some modern pub grub, and to stop by the airport’s first Garrett Popcorn location in the Central Market to bring a tin with them when visiting family and friends. 

At O’Hare, a recently open Dunkin’ Express is now serving passengers at Terminal 1 near Gate B14, and several new fun vending options continue to roll out, such as the new Gourmet Licorice machine near Gate M32 in Terminal 5. 


General Information 

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. The “My Flight” search page shows specific flight updates, along with amenities located near the flight gate and other targeted travel resources.  



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