Chicago's Airports Ready to Welcome Nearly 2 Million Passengers Over Course of Thanksgiving Travel Week

November 25, 2019

CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) today announced that O’Hare and Midway International Airports once again are expected to be among the busiest airports in the nation for Thanksgiving holiday travel, with more than 1.9 million passengers expected over the next seven days. This is a two percent increase in projected passenger volume compared to last year, based on ticket information available through Chicago’s airline partners.

 “On behalf of Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago airport community, our airports will be ready to accommodate the nearly 2 million travelers who are relying on us for their Thanksgiving travel plans,” said Jamie L. Rhee, CDA Commissioner. “This is a special time of year, and we take great pride in helping travelers get where they’re going. We’re grateful that so many travelers continue to choose Chicago’s airports, and we’re looking forward to providing even better service and amenities in the years ahead as our airport modernization efforts continue.”

 Beginning Tuesday, November 26th, and running through next Monday, December 2nd, more than 1.5 million passengers are expected to travel through O’Hare while another 400,000 travelers will pass through Midway. Sunday, December 1st is projected to be the busiest day of travel at both airports with more than 325,000 travelers taking to skies between both airports.

 This year’s projected passenger volume over the holiday travel period is consistent with the steady year-over-year growth trends seen for Chicago’s airports, thanks to continued investments O’Hare and Midway airline partners to expand service to Chicago travelers.



Both airports have decked the halls, with holiday trees. At O’Hare they have been decorated by some of Chicago’s prominent cultural institutions, including Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Shedd Aquarium.

 Beginning Monday afternoon and running through the week, the CDA will host live musical entertainment at O’Hare, while Midway will host live music Monday afternoon through Wednesday evening.

 The United Service Organizations (USO) location at Midway will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and traditional Thanksgiving food items will be available for military members visiting the center.

 At O’Hare, many of the terminal restrooms have been upgraded, to include improved infant care areas; a new Mother’s Room in Terminal 3 near Gate L6 and a new family assist restroom, also in Terminal 3 on the H Concourse.

 Concessionaires are sponsoring "Black Friday Weekend" at both O'Hare and Midway with special discounts at restaurants and shops throughout the airports November 29th through December 2nd

 The CDA encourages travelers to visit new and old favorite concessions offerings at O’Hare and Midway. Visit for a map of all dining and retail choices at both airports.



With both O’Hare and Midway airports continuing to report some of the shortest TSA checkpoint wait times in the country, travel through Chicago’s airports this holiday season is expected to be smooth and efficient for passengers. Nevertheless, the CDA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) encourage passengers to arrive at the airport two hours before domestic departures and three hours ahead of international departures to ensure adequate time for ticketing, baggage check, security screening and travel to the airline gate.

 In order to help alleviate roadway congestion, travelers are encouraged to use public transportation to get to the airports. Train service on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) via the Orange and Blue Lines provides passengers an affordable, efficient route between downtown and the airports, with service offered 24/7.

 For passenger pick-up, drivers are reminded it is illegal to stand along airport and surrounding roadways and shoulders. Drivers are encouraged to utilize airport cell phone lots, as well as the convenient hourly parking garages, which allows drivers to park for up to one hour for $2.

 Both airports feature ample public parking capacity to serve passengers traveling this year. Midway will feature LED signs directing passengers to access available parking off of Cicero Avenue and will also provide shuttle service to move passengers quickly and efficiently to the terminal. The O’Hare Multimodal Facility (MMF) expands public parking options at the airport, providing easier access to car rental in a new one-stop-shop facility for O’Hare’s rental car providers.

 At Midway, active construction on the Midway Modernization Program (MMP) continues inside and around the airport. The MMP recently achieved a major milestone on its checkpoint expansion project when the checkpoint moved in early November to the newly-opened north security bridge. The TSA now has 15 screening lanes available, including two automated service lanes. Additional signage is in place to help guide travelers to the new location. 

 Demolition of the existing security bridge over Cicero Avenue is also underway. Work will move outside after Thanksgiving leading to overnight lane closures on Cicero Avenue and some surrounding roadways. Lane closures and any shifts in traffic flow will look like other changes that have been in place since Modernization construction began in 2018. Information and updates are available at and Traffic updates are also available on Midway’s ParkNet Radio Station (1630 AM) within one-mile radius of airport.

 Travelers bound for Chicago’s airports this holiday season can make the most informed decisions about how to access any of the above airport services by visiting CDA’s website at The website also contains real-time information on flights, regular updates on traffic and weather, real-time taxicab wait times, and other special alerts for the traveling public.

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