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Chicago International Airport - The Chicago International Airport System - Two Airports, One City

terminal airlines midway o’hare

Being one of the largest cities in the world, it should come as no surprise that there is more than one Chicago international airport. Two airports serve the travelling needs of those traveling to or from Chicago. One of them ranks as one of the biggest airports in the world, while the other primarily serves the needs of low-fare, budget travelers. Put together, the Chicago international airport system moves a significant number of the world’s airplane passengers every day.

When someone is referring to a Chicago international airport, they are likely referring to the airport known as O’Hare. It is the fourth busiest airport in the world when measured by the number of passengers who fly through it each year, and until recently, was the world’s busiest. It is the primary hub of United Airlines, and is also a hub for American Airlines as well.

There are four terminals at the O’Hare Chicago International Airport, numbered 1, 2, 3, and 5. Terminal 4 is no longer in operation as a passenger terminal. Terminal 1 is the home of the massive United Airlines operation at the airport. There are currently 51 gates in Terminal 1, all used by United and its Star Alliance partner airlines. Terminal 2 is the home to United Express, the commuter feeder service for United Airlines, as well as a number of other carriers, including Star Alliance partner US Airways. Terminal 2 has 30 gates. Terminal 3 is the largest of the four passenger terminals, with 80 gates spread out over four concourses. Terminal 3 is the location of the American Airlines hub, along with its American Eagle and American Connection subsidiaries, as well as a number of partner airlines in American’s Oneworld alliance. Terminal 5 is the International Terminal. It has 21 gates, and is the arrival point for all international flights except those where U.S. Customs is present at the departure point.

For passengers who have to travel between terminals at the O’Hare Chicago International Airport, an Airport Transport System is in place. This is an automated train that moves between the four terminals. It also includes access to O’Hare’s parking garages and the light rail station that serves the airport.

The second, smaller Chicago international airport is Chicago Midway. This airport was built in 1949, and is considered by most residents to Chicago to be slightly less convenient than O’Hare, although it is actually closer to downtown than its bigger counterpart. In exchange for the lack of convenience, Midway Chicago International Airport generally offers lower fares to destinations, as a result of the airport’s operations being dominated by two low-cost airlines.

Midway has three passenger concourses, labeled A, B, and C. Southwest is the dominant player at the airport, with service from concourses A and B to over thirty destinations. AirTran Airways is the other major low-cost carrier, serving four destinations including its Atlanta and Orlando hubs from concourse A. Delta and Frontier also have service into Midway, as do a number of smaller, minor airlines.

The Chicago international airport system helps millions of people travel through its two major airports every year. For many, either O’Hare or Midway signal the start and end of their business trips, vacations, and weekend getaways. They are the beginning of their exciting adventures to new destinations, and their first sign that they have safely returned home.

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