O’Hare, Midway Ready for Surge in Travelers Over Spring Break

March 21, 2024

Chicago’s Airports Prepare to Welcome 2.9 Million Passengers Over Busy Travel Period


CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is prepared to welcome 2.9 million passengers to O’Hare and Midway International Airports between Thursday, March 21 and Monday, April 1 for the historically busy travel period that encompasses Holy Week celebrations, Easter and spring break for Chicago Public Schools, according to preliminary projections from air carriers.

"As we welcome millions of travelers through Chicago's airports this Spring Break, we celebrate the hard work of our airport staff and partners in providing a safe and welcoming experience," said Mayor Brandon Johnson. "This surge in travel to Chicago is no surprise, and our airports help make each journey memorable for visitors."

“From new concessions and amenities for the traveling public to exciting new destinations on offer from our air carrier partners, O’Hare and Midway are ready to welcome the millions of passengers we expect to see over the next 12 days,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “Whether travelers are visiting family for springtime holidays or enjoying a well-deserved vacation, we’re thrilled to provide them with a safe and efficient travel experience at Chicago’s airports.”

O’Hare is expected to see a 7% increase in passengers from last year’s spring break travel period, while Midway is projected to see a 2.4% increase over the same period in 2023, according to data from air carriers. Thursday, March 28 is projected to be the busiest day of travel at both airports, according to airline projections.

Visitors and residents traveling through O’Hare and Midway over spring break are reminded of the following tips:

Prevent Traffic Congestion

Traffic back-ups at Chicago’s airports are common on busy travel days, and Chicagoland residents on their way to each airport are asked to be mindful of the following tips to minimize congestion:

  • Consider taking public transit to avoid curbside crowds. The CTA Blue Lineprovides 24/7 service to O’Hare, and the CTA Orange Line serves Midway between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. Additionally, Metra’s North Central Service 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 provided at both airports. At Midway, drivers can drop off passengers at West 59th Street and South Kilpatrick Avenue, which is just 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 Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 5.
  • Cell Phone Lots are completely free and available at both airports for locals picking up arriving passengers. Simply wait in these convenient parking lots until arriving passenger 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 on the southeast corner of West 61st Street and South Cicero Avenue.

Check Parking Updates Before You Leave
Economy lots at O’Hare often reach capacity during busy holiday periods. Passengers planning to park at O’Hare are encouraged to check the status of available parking before leaving for O'Hare at flychicago.com/ORDParking. Reserved parking is also available on a limited basis for certain O’Hare lots, visit FlyChicago.com for more information. Parking lot status, pricing and advance reservations for Midway’s lots and garages can also be found at FlyChicago.com


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

At O’Hare, CLEAR Lanes and enrollment options are 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

Now Hiring: Aviation Security Officers

The CDA launched a hiring campaign this week for at least 85 Aviation Security Officer (ASO) positions at O’Hare and Midway, including social media outreach and advertising the jobs on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains, buses and stations. ASOs play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and security of operations at Chicago’s airports, conducting regular patrols throughout the terminals, grounds and perimeters to maintain a safe and secure environment.

The position has a starting salary of $53,340 and includes medical, dental and vision insurance, in addition to paid vacation and sick time. No college degree is required. Interested jobseekers can learn more and apply at flychicago.com/jobs.

Spring Break Entertainment at Chicago’s Airports

The #ChiOnTheFly entertainment series continues throughout the spring break travel period, with a variety of acts scheduled at both airports.

On March 22, face painter Linda Ortiz will delight travelers of all ages in O’Hare’s Terminal 2 from 9 am, with the CoverGirls Violin Show scheduled to perform energetic covers of pop and rock hits in the Terminal 3 Rotunda from 1 to 4 pm.

On March 28, the Kaia String Quartet will bring the rich and colorful sounds of Latin America to O’Hare’s Terminal 3 Rotunda from 11 am to 2 pm.

Also on March 28, the Easter Bunny will make an appearance in Midway’s Concourse A from 11 am to 2 pm

The Easter Bunny will appear throughout all of O’Hare’s terminals on March 29 from 9 am to noon.


Holy Week and Easter Services at Airport Chapels

The interfaith chapels at O’Hare and Midway will host a schedule of Catholic Masses and Protestant worship services during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday. O’Hare’s chapel is located on the Mezzanine Level of Terminal 2, pre-security, above the Alaska Airlines and Jet Blue ticket counters and next to the USO Center. Midway’s chapel is located post-security on the Mezzanine Level of Concourse C above the food court.

The O’Hare chapel will host Catholic Masses at 11:30 am on Holy Thursday (March 28) and Good Friday (March 29); 6 pm on Holy Saturday (March 30); and 9 am and 11 am on Easter Sunday (March 31).

Midway’s chapel will host Protestant services at 10 am, noon and 1:30 pm on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, in addition to Catholic Masses at 9 and 11 am

O’Hare also has an Interfaith Room in Terminal 5, located post-security near Gate M25. The Interfaith Room, open 24 hours a day, is a dedicated space for passengers to engage in prayer, mediation, or silent contemplation. The room provides open floor space to accommodate prayer with a Qibla compass and shoe storage, along with wooden benches.


New Air Service

After seeing strong year-over-year growth in passenger volume at both of Chicago’s airports in 2023, the CDA is anticipating an unprecedented summer of air service this year, with a major increase in international destinations served from O’Hare.

Notable air service developments at O’Hare this year include Cathay Pacific increasing its Hong Kong service from three to five times per week starting March 31 which will improve access to Hong Kong, Mainland China and Southeast Asia.

United will also launch the first service from O’Hare to the new airport in Tulum, Mexico on April 6, giving travelers a more convenient option when visiting the Riviera Maya.

O’Hare will also have its largest number of Italian destinations ever in 2024, with ITA launching service to Rome six times per week on April 7, and increasing to daily service in June. American Airlines will also launch daily summer seasonal service to Venice on June 5, while resuming summer seasonal service to Rome. United will also offer summer seasonal services to Rome and Milan.

Beginning on May 23, United will launch daily, summer seasonal service to Athens, Greece. American also offers summer seasonal service to Athens.

Service to Canada will also increase from carriers at O’Hare. United will launch new daily services to Winnipeg and Quebec City on May 23. WestJet will also offer significantly increased frequencies on its Calgary service from O’Hare this summer, operating daily between late June and August.

Finally, this spring, Frontier Airlines is also increasing its service with nine new routes at O’Hare while maintaining strong operations at Midway. In April and May, the carrier will launch new services from O’Hare to Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Denver; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Las Vegas; Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Maine; Houston; and Philadelphia.


New Options for Dining and Shopping on the Go

Travelers passing through O’Hare’s Terminal 3 can enjoy the following newly-opened food and retail concessions:

  • Half Moon Empanadas, located in the Rotunda, offers hand-made Argentinian empanadas made from scratch with the highest-quality ingredient, bringing travelers the flavors of Latina America in a convenient, handheld package.
  • ChiBoys, located near Gate H6, takes pride in representing the vibrant spirit of Chicago through stylish and innovative fashion, selling Chicago-themed apparel, gifts, headphones and tech accessories.
  • Hudson Nonstop, located near Gate K1, offers a seamless shopping experience for travel essentials powered by Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology.

Additionally, travelers at Midway can enjoy a variety of new dining and shopping options at the Southwest Side airport’s revamped Central Market, which opened to the public last fall with a mix of new and existing brands with diverse ownership teams.

Food and beverage locations include Connie’s Pizza, America’s Dog and Burger, White Sox Bar and Grill, M Burger, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Dunkin’ and Reilly’s Daughter. Retailers include Evolve, Tumi and MAC/Jo Malone.


New USO Center Opens At Midway for Service Members

The CDA joined USO staff and military service members earlier this year to unveil the upgraded USO Midway Center in Midway’s Concourse C. The completed renovations include fresh furniture, updated flooring, new appliances and revamped interiors, positioning the Center to serve as a home away from home for traveling service members and their families for decades to come.

The Center operates daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and provides unique amenities to those who serve, including a stocked kitchenette, a computer, printers, free Wi-Fi access, books, magazines and a lounge to watch TV and movies or play video games. The renovations expanded the center's capacity by 30%.

The USO also operates a second Center at Midway in the baggage claim area, serving sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes en route to duty assignments around the world. Additionally, the USO operates centers in Terminals 2 and 3 at O’Hare, serving hundreds of thousands of military travelers annually.


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