May 25, 2017

Chicago's Airports Prepared to Welcome 1.7 Million Passengers During Start of Summer Travel Season

Chicago Department of Aviation continues working with TSA to ensure best, most efficient wait times at O’Hare and Midway

CHICAGO—With a busy summer travel season approaching, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announces that it is prepared to welcome more than 1.7 million passengers at O’Hare and Midway International Airports during Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer travel season.

For the past year, O’Hare and Midway International Airports have demonstrated consistent improvements to passenger wait times at security screening, while maintaining the secure conditions that enable safe transport of more than 100 million passengers each year.

“In addition to being one of the world’s busiest airports, O’Hare is also the best large airport in the country for TSA wait times,” said Ginger S. Evans, Commissioner, CDA. “Chicago’s airports are performing exceptionally well for TSA wait times, even as passenger traffic continues to climb at both of Chicago’s airports. We are committed to leveraging the technology and resources that will continue to yield low wait times while ensuring the highest level of safety for our passengers.”

Recent data by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) show Chicago beating out its counterparts at the seven biggest airports in the nation with wait times that have remained consistently low for the past year. O'Hare International Airport has demonstrated the lowest wait times among the nation’s largest airports, with more than 99 percent of passengers waiting 15 minutes or less at security checkpoints over the past year. Moreover, on average across Midway and O’Hare—two of the busiest airports in the nation—passengers are not waiting more than 10 minutes, even during peak travel times.

The low average wait time, accomplished while ensuring airport security, is a result of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's collaborative efforts with the TSA Administrator and other federal partners to secure additional screening officers and canine teams assigned to Chicago's airports. These efforts added staff and capacity to cut wait times by more than half in just a matter of weeks, while maintaining secure operations that safely transport more than 100 million passengers at Midway and O'Hare each year. 

To ensure passengers can move safely and quickly through the checkpoints, CDA, its airline partners and the TSA have invested in new technology to improve efficiency and increased capacity with TSA screening officers and canine teams. Additionally, O’Hare is one of five airports in the U.S. to feature automated security screening lanes for passengers. These lanes improve the screening process by automating many of the functions previously conducted manually, allowing travelers to move more swiftly and efficiently through the checkpoint. The automated lanes at O’Hare were installed in Terminals 1 and 3 in November 2016.  

The CDA and airlines anticipate more than 1.7 million passengers will travel through O’Hare and Midway for the Memorial Day travel period from Thursday, May 25 through Tuesday, May 30, a two percent increase over last year. Thursday, May 25 is projected to be the busiest travel day of the Memorial Day holiday weekend at O’Hare with more than 270,000 passengers. The busiest day at Midway will be Friday, May 26, with nearly 75,000 passengers.

Travelers are encouraged to arrive at the airport with sufficient time for screening, allowing two hours prior to flight departure for domestic travel and three hours for international travel. This allows time for parking and shuttle transportation, airline check-in, obtaining a boarding pass, and going through the security screening process, which includes screening of your carry-on baggage.

The CDA posts monthly TSA performance reports for O’Hare and Midway International Airports on its website

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