December 19, 2017

Chicago's Airports Prepare to Welcome More Than Five Million Passengers for Christmas and New Year's Holiday Travel

Passenger Volumes Expected to be Highest on Record for Chicago’s Airports

 CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announced today that it expects more than 5.2 million passengers to travel through O’Hare and Midway International Airports for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The CDA, working with its airport partners, is prepared to offer a safe and efficient travel experience for all passengers this season, which begins Friday, December 15, 2017 and runs through Thursday, January 4, 2018.

With the number of travelers increasing over last year’s holidays, passenger volume this winter season is projected to be the highest on record for Chicago’s airports. However, the travel experience is expected to be a smooth and efficient one for passengers, with O'Hare and Midway steadily reporting some of the lowest wait times in the nation at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints in 2017.

“This holiday season caps off a history-making year for passengers flying through Chicago’s airports, which continue to be a top choice for travelers,” said Ginger S. Evans, Commissioner, CDA. “Once again, the CDA and our airport partners are well prepared to provide a great travel experience for air passengers. While O’Hare and Midway will be some of the busiest airports in the nation, we want travelers to know that they will also be the best for service, amenities and a welcoming and festive holiday travel experience.”

More than 4.1 million passengers are expected to travel through O’Hare this season, an increase of 3.5 percent over a comparable period last year. Midway will see an increase of about 2 percent, with more than one million passengers projected to travel through the airport. Consistent with nationwide projections, the busiest day during the 21-day travel period at both airports will be Friday, December 22, with 225,000 passengers at O’Hare and more than 70,000 travelers at Midway.

 

Holiday Activities – Entertainment, Pop-Up Holiday Gift Shops, Gift Wrapping and More!

Both airports are welcoming travelers with festive decorations and will feature a variety of entertainment, fun activities and specials for travelers. Live music entertainment and performers including strolling carolers, choirs and Acapella groups will be featured at O’Hare on December 15, 18, 20, 21 and 22 and Midway on December 15, 18, 19, 26 and 29. The CDA has also learned that Santa Claus, his wife and a friendly elf are making plans to visit O’Hare and Midway on Friday, December 22 to greet travelers in advance of the big day.

Three retailers—Frango, InMotion Entertainment and Pop Gallery—have opened pop-up stores for the winter season at O’Hare International Airport, adding to the airport’s lineup of nearly 90 retail locations. Frango’s temporary boutique is in Terminal 1, Concourse B, near gate B12; InMotion’s holiday pop-up store is located near gate F9 in Terminal 2; and the Pop Gallery store is in Terminal 3 near gate H6.

Midway is hosting its 4th annual Gifts & Gadgets pop up shops to provide some last-minute shopping for passengers who are traveling to spend the holiday with friends and family. The shops will be open on Thursday, December 21 and Friday, December 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Midway will also provide free hot cocoa on December 21 and 22 and complimentary gift-wrapping on December 20, 21 and 22 near the main food court.

The CDA is offering fun in-terminal activities for passengers, featuring a green screen photo opportunity where friends and family can pose with props in front of a variety of holiday scenes. The photo booth will be at O’Hare on December 21 from 12 to 5 p.m. in Terminal 2 near the Butch O’Hare exhibit and lounge area. Midway will feature the photo booth on Monday, December 18 from 12 to 3 p.m. in the main food court.

United Airlines at O’Hare is setting up a holiday display at two locations in Terminal 1 for passengers snap "selfies" and pose for photos December 18 through 26. United will also bring comfort dogs to O’Hare December 21, 22 and 23. 

Holiday trees are on display at O’Hare that have been decorated by some of Chicago’s prominent cultural institutions such as Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Shedd Aquarium. Midway has a tree decorated by the Balzekas Lithuanian Museum.

 

Travel Tips

The CDA joins the TSA in encouraging passengers to arrive at the airport two hours in advance of domestic flights and three hours in advance of international flights to ensure adequate time for ticketing, baggage check, security screening and travel to the airline gate.

The O’Hare Airport Transit System (ATS) will operate 24 hours a day from December 20, 2017 through January 3, 2018 to accommodate peak holiday travel. Overnight closure of the ATS will resume on January 4, 2018.

For getting to and from the airport, travelers can find a wide range of transportation options available to and from the airports, including:

  • Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), curbside shuttle services, limousines, and transportation network providers (commonly known as ridesharing).
  • Travelers can also request and receive real-time taxicab wait times for O’Hare and Midway via text message.
  • To receive a text message stating taxi wait times, passengers simply need to text the word taxi to (312) 883-8404 for O'Hare's wait times or (312) 883-7969 for Midway's wait times.

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 www.FlyChicago.com

The website also contains real-time information on flights, regular updates on traffic and weather, transportation options available throughout the Chicagoland area, other special alerts for the traveling public, and much more.

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