Get us in your inbox

WIkimedia Commons

A defense of O'Hare International Airport

Written by
Chris Bourg

On Tuesday, Jalopnik published an article titled "Ten of the Most Garbage Airports in the World" and ranked Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as the third worst. Their explanation for the ranking was the number of delays experienced at the airport, noting that it is "easily the most hated airport in the U.S."

As someone who travels out of O'Hare for work a fair amount, I feel like this is an over-simplified, unfair assessment of our airport, especially compared to the other U.S. airports listed. I'd like to debunk those clowns at Jalopnik and present some of the great aspects of our city's biggest airport.

Easy access from public transit: Earlier this year, a study showed that Chicago is one of three cities in the country where taking public transportation to city airports is faster than driving. This is particularly helpful because driving anywhere in the city is a nightmare, much less to an airport to catch a flight on time. The CTA Blue Line is a quick, easy ride to O'Hare. So long as the train stays on the rails and off the escalators, taking the public transit to O'Hare makes getting there a piece of cake

TSA is not that bad: Since O'Hare is such a busy airport, the TSA had to figure out how to get a lot of people through security in an efficient manner. As a result, security at O'Hare generally tends to be quicker. And in my experience, the TSA staff at O'Hare generally tends to be more pleasant than at other airports around the country.

Destinations everywhere: O'Hare flies to over 200 destinations, including over 50 international stops, a distinction it shares with only six other airports in the entire world. If for some reason you feel the need to leave the great city of Chicago, you can head over to O'Hare and fly virtually anywhere you want to.

There's a lot to do and see on the concourses: If you arrive early enough for your flight like a responsible flier, you're going to have some time to kill while you wait to take off. Luckily for you, since O'Hare is such a big airport, there are a ton of places to eat, shop and read magazines at before boarding your plane. Where else can you eat at Frontera, munch on Garrett's Popcorn and throw back a beer or five at Billy Goat's Tavern all under one roof? You can also look around and explore cool areas like where all the flags of different countries are hung, or the psychedelic light tunnel between Terminals B and C.

Delays are not the airport's fault: The main beef people have with O'Hare is that there are a ton of delays. The problem with this criticism is that most of O'Hare's delays occur in winter, when weather conditions don't allow for airlines to fly their planes out in unfavorable conditions. You will also hear people complain about O'Hare specifically because it is one of the busiest airports in the world, and people are more likely to fly out of there than cities with similar winter climates like Minneapolis or Pittsburgh. Our winter weather combined with the number of people who fly out of here results in more instances of people complaining about O'Hare's delays.

Compared to other airports, O'Hare really is a paradise: Just picking other airports from this list, I'll say: Dulles is in the middle of nowhere, LaGuardia is a dump and LAX is a zoo. I'll go so far as to say that O'Hare is a damn fine airport. And if you hate it so much, just stay here in the city. It's not like you'll be flying any place better.

Latest news