Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) is one of the world's most significant transport hubs, offering connections to more cities than any other airport in the world. A mind-blowing 77 million passengers pass through the airport each year, yet its intelligent design, full range of facilities and amenities and highly professional staff ensure that transit experiences are routinely pleasant.
Flights to Chicago O'Hare International Airport are offered by a massive variety of airlines, both American and international. It is one of the most common layover destinations, along with Washington Dulles and New York JFK, for international flights into the US.
Chicago O'Hare International Airport has received the Global Traveler Award for Best Airport in North America ten years in a row.
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Chicago O'Hare International Airport consists of four terminals – 1, 2, 3, and 5 (Terminal 4 is now defunct) – which are connected by a free 24-hour Airport Transit System (ATS), a kind of light rail service that runs every four minutes. It takes 10 minutes to reach Terminal 5 from Terminal 1. It is possible to walk between Terminals 1, 2 and 3 (but it takes about half an hour to reach the one from the other).
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Located 18 miles (29km) from downtown Chicago, there are many convenient transport options available to travelers looking to get into the city from O'Hare International Airport.
Airport taxis: Taxis are freely available at the stands outside the baggage reclaim area. There is no fixed charge or prepaid fee; you'll be charged the standard Chicago rate of $2.25 for the first mile and then $1.80 for each mile after that. It should cost $40-$45 to get into town, and take 45-90 minutes, depending on traffic.
Bus: The Bus and Shuttle Center is located in Terminal 3, opposite the Hilton Hotel. From here, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) runs regular buses to destinations all over downtown Chicago and its surrounding areas. The standard fare is $2.50, and there'll be plenty of people around and on-hand to make sure you get on the right bus for your destination.
Train: By far the easiest way to access downtown Chicago from O'Hare is the 24-hour CTA Blue Line train ($3 peak time; $2 off-peak). Services run about every ten minutes from the airport, and it's just a 45-minute journey to Washington, Monroe or Jackson Stations on central Dearborn Street. To get to the airport train station from Terminals 1, 2 or 3, follow the 'Trains to City' or 'CTA Trains' signs (should take you 10 minutes on foot). From Terminal 5, you can catch the free shuttle to the train station (allow 15 minutes to get there).
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Parking facilities at O'Hare International Airport are divided into three Main Parking Lots (A, B, C), an International Parking Lot (D), three Economy Lots (E, F and G), a Valet Parking Lot, and a free Cell Phone Lot for pick-up and drop-off only. The International Lot (D) charges $6 for up to 2 hours, $10 for up to 4 hours and $51 if you park for more than 13 and less than 24 hours. The Main and Valet Parking Lots are free for the first ten minutes; thereafter, the Main Parking Lots charge $2 for up to one hour, $4 for up to 2 hours, $14 for up to 6 hours and $31 for a period of 11-24 hours. Valet Parking is more expensive, charging $10 for the first hour, $17 for 2 hours, $21 for 3 hours, and $46 for anything between 8 and 24 hours. The Economy Lots E, F and G charge $2 for first hour (or part thereof) and $5 for up to three hours, but then get very cheap, with Lot E charging $17 for a 9-24 hour parking period, and Lot F only $9 for a 5-24 hour parking period.
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Information desks are located in Terminals 1, 3 and 5. The multi-lingual staff is on hand 24 hours a day, and willing to provide good information to passengers who need help finding their way around the maze-like airport, or confused about how to get into downtown Chicago. There are also two Travelers Aid booths, located in Terminal 2.
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Money and communications: There is a full-service bank (Seaway) at the airport, as well as ATMs and bureau de change in all of the terminals. There is also a full-service post office, located in the upper levels of Terminal 2.
Luggage: Luggage trolleys are widely available throughout the passenger areas. There are lost property offices, administered by the Chicago Police Department, located in the upper levels of all the terminals.
Conference and business: There is a comprehensive business center, featuring extensive meeting facilities, at the Hilton O'Hare Airport in Terminal 2. A wide variety of business-related facilities are available there, including fax, scanning, binding, photocopying, packing and shipping. There is also Laptop Lane, located in Terminal 1, providing workstations with internet connectivity, IDD telephones, and fax and printing facilities.
Shopping: Chicago O'Hare International Airport offers a good range of shopping options, with the bulk of them being found in Terminals 1, 3 and 5. Basic travel accessories are available everywhere, and all the terminals have duty-free stores offering good prices on alcohol, jewelry, tobacco products and perfume. Shopping highlights include Spirit of the Red Horse and InMotion (Terminals 1 and 3): the former selling Native American jewelry and clothing, the latter high-tech gadgets and entertainment products. Mindworks (Terminal 5) is also worth checking out, especially if you're hunting for children's toys.
Food and drink: Chicago O'Hare International Airport boasts a huge array of food and beverage outlets (the highest concentrations of which are located in Terminals 1 and 3), though most of them are fast food, such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and Burger King; or franchises like Chili's and Wolfgang Puck. For something a little more home-style, try the Berghoff Cafe in Terminal 1, or O'Brien's Restaurant (famous for steak sandwiches) in Terminal 3.
Other facilities: Other facilities at Chicago O'Hare International Airport include baby-changing facilities, medical facilities, TVs, a 24-hour interfaith chapel, and full access and facilities for disabled passengers.
Wi-Fi: High-speed Wi-Fi access is available throughout the airport, in all the passenger areas. Unfortunately, this service is not free; you'll have to buy a prepaid Boingo voucher from one of the airport kiosks.
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