Chicago offers three airports to choose between.
Midway and O'Hare airports are both comparable choices, located relatively close to the city and with easy public transport links. Take care if choosing Chicago Rockford Airport however as this is much further away.
We summarise here all you need to know no matter which one you are using.
Chicago Midway International Airport
Chicago Rockford International Airport
O'Hare International Airport
Options for getting the center of Chicago from the airport and vice versa
|Distance to Chicago center (the Union Station, near the Loop)||18 km = 11.2 miles||140 km = 87 miles||33 km = 20.4 miles|
|Public transport general operating hours||24/7. CTA trains: 4 a.m.-1 a.m.; Chicago Airport Shuttle: 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Limo Services: 24/7; overnight N62 Archer bus.||24/7 Airport Shuttles||24/7. CTA trains: 24/7; Chicago Airport Shuttle: 24/7; Airport Shuttle: 24/7;|
|Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)||The CTA Orange Train Line runs from the Midway Airport's Transportation Center to the Adams/Wabash Station, in the heart of downtown Chicago (within Loop); average travel time is 20, 25 minutes. Departing frequency: up to 5 minutes during rush and up to 15 minutes during off-peak hours. Fares: up to $2.25 for a single journey; from $10 (1-day) for Ventra travel passes (unlimited rides). Note: along the Orange Line's route you can catch further train connections to other parts of Chicago; overnight service is provided by the N62 Archer bus.||N/A||The CTA Blue Train Line runs from the O'Hare Airport's 1, 2 and 3 terminals to downtown Chicago (the Monroe Station in Loop is one of the most centrally located); travel times are around 45 minutes. Departing frequency: between 3 and 10 minutes; overnight departures are up to 15 minutes. Fares: around $5 for a single journey; from $10 (1-day) for Ventra travel passes (unlimited rides).|
|Chicago Airport Shuttle||Go Airport Express and Omega Shuttle are the major shuttle providers from Midway Airport to most downtown hotels. Travel times are between 15 and 40 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Departing frequency: every 15 minutes. Fares: Go Airport Express - $22 single journey, $37 round trip; Omega Shuttle - $17 single journey. Note: Omega Shuttles provide transfer between Midway and O'Hare airports for a $16 price.||N/A||Go Airport Express and Omega Shuttle are the major shuttle providers from O'Hare Airport to most downtown hotels. Travel times range between 25 and 90 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Departing frequency: Go Airport Express - every 10 to 15 minutes; Omega Shuttle - every hour. Fares: Go Airport Express - $27 single journey, $49 round trip; Omega Shuttle - $30 single journey. Note: Go Airport Express shuttles depart from each terminal; Omega Shuttle shuttles depart from the Ground Transportation Center (between the 1, 2 and 3 terminals) and from Terminal 5. Omega Shuttles provide transfer between Midway and O'Hare airports for a $16 price.|
|Limo Services (Echo Limousine)||Limo Services offer transfers from the Midway Airport to various destinations in downtown Chicago; travel times are between 20 and 40 minutes. Fares: from $65 + tips.||N/A||Limo Services offer transfers from the O'Hare Airport to various destinations in downtown Chicago; travel times range between 25 and 90 minutes. Fares: from $65 + tips.|
|Airport Shuttles||Airport Shuttle limos provide transfers from Midway Airport to Chicago for $33 and over; travel times are around 30 minutes.||Airport Shuttle limos can take you from Rockford Airport to Chicago in an hour and a half at the very least; transfer prices range from $290 upwards.||Airport Shuttle limos provide transfer from O'Hare Airport to Chicago for $79 and over; travel times are up to 90 minutes.|
|Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD)||N/A||RMTD bus number 7 takes passengers from the airport's terminal to the RMTD Transfer Center in Rockford. From there, you can catch further connection to Chicago. Bus transfers from Rockford cost from approximately $20 and over.||N/A|
|METRA||N/A||N/A||The METRA Rail system operates between the airport's transfer station and the Union Station (near the Loop); travel times are around 35 minutes. Fares: $5.75 single journey.|
|Taxi / Cab Services||Taxis travel between the Midway Airport and downtown Chicago from 20 to 30 minutes. Fares are usually around $30 + tips.||You can take taxi for transfer from the Rockford Airport to Chicago, but be prepared for high fares.||Taxis travel between the Midway Airport and downtown Chicago from 25 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic. Fares are usually around $40 + tips.|
|On demand taxis||Uber on demand; estimated fares to the Millenium Park (Loop): UberX - $20, UberXL - $35, UberBLACK - $60.||Uber on demand; estimated fares to the Millenium Park (Loop): UberX - around $100.||Uber on demand; estimated fares to the Millenium Park (Loop): UberX - around $30, UberXL - between $50 and $65, UberBLACK - between $78 and $103.|
Which airport is most suitable for me?
|How close to Chicago city center and main tourist attractions?||Chicago Midway International airport is the closest of the three airports to downtown Chicago and the city's main tourist attractions. A couple of transportation options provide fast transfer to downtown Chicago and its points of interest in around 30 minutes.||Rockford Airport is the farthest and certainly the least convenient airport for Chicago. The airport offers scarce and expensive transfer options with unpredictable travel times. In general, a journey to this airport may prove worthwhile only if you are eligible for some kind of flight promotion, travel somewhere between Rockford and Chicago or have a lot of time at your disposal.||O'Hare International Airport is located further away from Chicago than the Midway Airport, but features convenient transfer options for every budget. Depending on the chosen transportation option and traffic conditions, you can reach downtown Chicago and its main tourist attractions between 40 minutes and two hours.|
|Cost factor||Midway Airport is the closest of the three to Chicago with the most affordable transfer options to the city. As for the flight fares, these are fairly higher compared to O'Hare Airport. Hotels within the close proximity to the airport are somewhat cheaper than those around the O'Hare, in general. Car rental fares are practically the same.||Rockford Airport is far off from Chicago, featuring a small number of flights and few transportation options that exert a lot of time, money or both. Flight fares from related destinations are pricier compared to other two airports. Hotel accommodation, on the other hand, is significantly cheaper. Car rentals tend to be similar or somewhat cheaper.||O'Hare Airport is located farther off from Chicago than Midway Airport, but it offers convenient transfer options to the city that are reasonably priced. Although exceptions do exist, flight fares are significantly lower compared to the Midway Airport. Offered car rental fares at O'Hare Airport are the same as at the Midway Airport. Hotel deals, on the other hand, are somewhat higher.|
|Airport delays||Delay indexes for Midway Airport are usually very low.||Delay indexes for Rockford Airport tend to be very high.||Delay indexes for O'Hare Airport are high, which makes this airport one of the most notorious in the U.S.A. in this regard, especially during winter.|
Flight fares Prices taken for April 2018 (searched on 29.1.2018)
|From $118-Minneapolis, $139-Atlanta, $142-Boston, $143-New York, $160-Denver, $161-Houston, $162-Orlando, $183-Toronto, $224-Detroit, $242-Los Angeles, $498-Hong Kong, $502-Beijing.||From $288-Clearwater, $295-Punta Gorda, $362-Phoenix, $498-Hong Kong, $503-Beijing.||From $72-Paris, $74-London, $80-Rome, $85-Minneapolis, $96-Madrid, $103-Atlanta, $101 Boston, $104-New York, $109-Houston, $115-Orlando, $119-Miami, $121-Los Angeles, $129-Phoenix, $204-Toronto, $209-Mexico City, $466-Hong Kong, $469-Beijing|
Car hire Prices taken for the 1-4-2018 to 7-4-2018 period (searched on 29.1.2018).
|Economy cars (Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Aveo, Kia Rio): $205-$527. Intermediate cars (Dodge Avenger, Toyota Corolla, Vw Jetta): $222-$580.||Economy cars (Kia Rio, Chevrolet Aveo, Mazda 2): $209-$332. Intermediate cars (Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Vw Jetta): $225-$372.||Economy cars (Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Aveo, Kia Rio): $205-$527. Intermediate cars (Dodge Avenger, Toyota Corolla, Vw Jetta): $222-$580.|
|Online car hire deals|
|Car Hire companies||Payless Car Rental, Hertz, Enterprise, Thrifty, National, Alamo, Budget, Avis.||Enterprise, Hertz.||At O'Hare Economy Lot: National, Avis, Hertz, Thrifty, Alamo, Budget, Dollar.|
Hotel costs per night from 1-4-2018 to 2-4-2018 (searched on 29.1.2018)
|3-star Hampton Inn Chicago-Midway Airport - $101. No 4-star hotels around Midway Airport.||3-star Alpine Inn & Suites Rockford (14.4.-15.4.) - $59. No 4-star hotels within a 10-mile radius around Rockford Airport.||3-star Aloft Chicago O'Hare - $119. 4-star DoubleTree by Hilton - $125. Hotels around O'Hare Airport tend to be around 20% more expensive than hotels around Midway Airport.|
|Shopping||Chicago Treasures, Discover Chicago, Hallmark, George's Music Room, Kids Works, House of Blues, Hudson Book Sellers, Life is Good, Spirit of the Red Horse.||N/A||Terminal 1: Barbara's Bookstore, Brookstone, Duty Free Store, Erwin Pearl, InMotion Entertainment, Oakley, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Spirit of the Red Horse, Sunglass Hut, Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Terminal 2: Barbara's Bookstore, Brookstone, Duty Free Store, Hoypoloi, MAC Cosmetics, Sarah's Candies, Sunglass Hut, Tech Showcase. Terminal 3: Barbara's Bookstore, Brighton, Brooks Brothers, Chicago Sports, Duty Free Store, Erwin Pearl, Harley Davidson, InMotion Entertainment, MontBlanc, Oakley, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Spirit of the Red Horse, Sunglass Hut, Talie, Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Terminal 5: Brookstone, Dufry, Emporio Armani, I Love Chicago, Luxury Watches, Michael Kors, Salvatore Ferragamo, Swatch, Vosges Haut-Chocolat.|
|Eating & drinking||Ben and Jerry's, Harry Carray's, Illinois Bar and Grill, King Wax Express, Lalo's Mexican Restaurant, Pegasus on the Fly, Nuts on Clark, McDonald's, Manny's, Miller's Pub, Oak Street Beach Cafe, Springs, Red Mango.||Skyview Cafe||Terminal 1: Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Baudevin Wine Bar, Berghoff Cafe, Brioche Doree, Cafe Zoot!, Eli's Cheesecake, Galileo's Bar & Grill, Jamba Juice, Jazz Bar, Manchu Wok, McDonald's, Salad Works, Starbucks Coffee, Uno's Pizza Express. Terminal 2: Argo Tea, Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Brioche Doree, Chili's Too, Fresh Attractions, La Tapenade Mediterranean Cafe, McDonald's, Nuts on Clark, Chicago Style Hot Dog, Starbucks Coffee, Uno's Pizza Express. Terminal 3: Argo Tea, Brioche Doree, Bubbles Wine Bar, Burrito Beach, Chili's Too, Dunkin' Donuts, Facades Bar, Farmers Market, Gold Coast Dogs, ICE Dishes & Drinks, La Tapenade Mediterranean Cafe, Manchu Wok, McDonald's, Nuts on Clark, Prairie Tap, Publican Tavern, Chicago Style Hot Dog, Starbucks Coffee, Skyscrapers Bar, Summer House Santa Monica. Terminal 5: Big Bowl, Hub 51, Kofe by Intelligentsia, McDonald's, R.J. Grunts Burgers, Tocco, Urban Olive, Wolfgang Puck Cafe.|
|Lounges||USO Lounge is located in concourse C.||N/A||Terminal 1: United Club Lounge (Lufthansa, United and Continental). Terminal 2: Delta and United Club lounges. Terminal 3: Admiral's Club, American Flagship Lounge. Terminal 5: Air France/KLM, Korean Air, British Airways First Lounge, SAS Lounge, Swissport Lounge, Swiss International/Austrian Lounge.|
|Wi-Fi||Free Wi-Fi is available up to 30 minutes; 24-hour internet access costs $6.95.||Complementary free Wi-Fi is available at the airport.||Free Wi-Fi is available up to 30 minutes; 24-hour internet access costs $6.95.|
|Terminal information. How many? How to transfer? Minimum connection time.||The Chicago Midway International Airport has one terminal divided into 3 concourses (A, B and C).||The Rockford Airport has one terminal.||The O'Hare Airport has 4 terminals - 1, 2, 3 and 5. ATS, a free transit light rail system, provides transfers between the terminals 24/7; travel times are 10 minutes. Transfers between the terminals usually take at least an hour.|
|Currency exchange & cash points||ATMs are available in concourses A and B; currency exchange office is available in concourse A.||N/A The nearest money exchange offices and ATMs are located in the city of Rockford.||Currency exchange offices and ATMs are available throughout the airport's terminals.|
|Important phone numbers||Customer service: +1 800 832 6352; Chicago Police: +1 773 838 3003.||Lost and found: +1 815 969 4412||Lost and found: +1 773 686 2385; Police: +1 773 686 2385|
|Major airlines and destinations|
|Major operating airlines||Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Porter Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Continental Airlines.||Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, DirectAir,||Lufthansa, United, Air Canada, Delta, American Airlines, Frontier, Iberia, Japan Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Virgin America, Air France, Air India, Alitalia, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, SAS, SWISS, Turkish Airlines.|
|Major destinations||Atlanta, Boston, Cancun, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Manchester, Minneapolis, New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington, D.C.,||Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Punta Cana, Las Vegas, Cancun.||Las Vegas, Honolulu, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Houston, Brussels, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Toronto, Punta Cana, Montreal, Seattle, Washington, D.C., London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Doha, Vienna, Paris, Madrid, Dubai.|
|Tourist Info Centers Chicago attractions Compare||Travellers Aid office is located on the terminal's upper level.||Tourist Help Desk||Tourist Information desks that operate 24/7 are located in terminals 1, 3 and 5.|
|Official airport website||http://chicago-mdw.worldairportguides.com/||http://flyrfd.com/||http://www.airport-ohare.com/|