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Old 22.08.2011, 18:17
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How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

I am planning a trip involving a flight to Chicago O'Hare airport.

The flight is schedlued to land at 2:45pm.

After that I would have to queue for immigration, collect my luggage and catch the Blue Line into Chicago. I would like to attend an event at 6pm in downtown Chicago. If time allows I'd like to check into the hotel room on the way (also downtown Chicago / Loop) to freshen up.

Is that realistic, taking into account immigration delays and general airport hassle and possible flight delays? (flight is Delta from Paris)

Thank you for your insights.
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:20
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicaho O'hare airport?

depends on how long the delay is. but, in principle, yes.
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:24
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

Agree with Phil. I've not had too many problems flying to/through O'Hare. It usually takes 1.5 hrs to go through "borderland security" or whatever they are called on a UK passport. But there is always a gamble based on whether another Jumbo or Airbus 380 has landed at the same time...
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:32
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

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I am planning a trip involving a flight to Chicago O'Hare airport.

The flight is schedlued to land at 2:45pm.

After that I would have to queue for immigration, collect my luggage and catch the Blue Line into Chicago. I would like to attend an event at 6pm in downtown Chicago. If time allows I'd like to check into the hotel room on the way (also downtown Chicago / Loop) to freshen up.

Is that realistic, taking into account immigration delays and general airport hassle and possible flight delays? (flight is Delta from Paris)

Thank you for your insights.
I used to travel into Chicago Ohare for business, and I think that sounds almost doable, but pretty tight--and that's if absolutely nothing gets delayed. You'll probably get out of immigration/baggage claim etc around 4 pm (takes about 15 minutes to deplane, 1 hour for the whole immigration deal). The train ride is about 45 minutes, but factor in walking time to the station and waiting for the train. If I were you, I would bring what I need to have on for the event in my carry on just in case. Plus, once you get to the hotel, 20 minutes for check in etc. Good luck and happy travels!
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:33
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

and it depends on what day of the week - traffic from the suburbs and airport in on a Friday night can be much worse than other nights - good luck
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:34
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

I'm originally from Chicago and from my personal experience you may realistically give yourself 1.5 -2hrs. time to go through immigration and customs, particularly during a vacation season and if you're traveling on a visitors visa, which will require your finger print and photo to be taken at the immigration counter.
As far as getting downtown from O'Hare during a day it may take you between 45- 60min. depending on traffic.
My suggestion would be to give yourself sufficient time, because nowadays traveling to the US can unnecessarily test your patience.
Have a great time in the Windy City!
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:35
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

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and it depends on what day of the week - traffic from the suburbs and airport in on a Friday night can be much worse than other nights - good luck
Thanks. It's a Saturday. Would getting a taxi offer any significant time savings?
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:38
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

heh. you just reminded me of a conversation with the border-guard:

guard: where will you work?
me: in chicago
guard: where exactly?
me: in sear's tower
guard: where in sear's tower?
me: [number and address]
guard (now very annoyed): yes, but where will you work? what is the company name?
me: oh! you mean for whom will i be working - i'll be working for [company x]
guard: [pauses and narrows eyes] have a good day (though gritted teeth)
me: [grin]
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:39
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

it really depends, sometimes the immigration is fast (10 mins) and sometimes really looong up to 2 hours but is not often (I did this over 40 times). The baggage is usually fast. TIP: try to be in the plane in front as possible and after you get out of the plane pass as much peoples as possible to get in the immigration line as fast as possible. Then you have to take the train from terminal 5 to terminal 2 and walk to the train station which takes you maybe 15 mins. The train to downtown takes you approx 45 mins and every 10 mins a train will run. I think you will be fine!

http://www.airwise.com/airports/us/ohare/by_train.html
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:40
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

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Thanks. It's a Saturday. Would catching a taxi offer any significant time savings?
No, you'd just be stuck in traffic in a taxi. You can catch the blue line ( http://www.transitchicago.com/blueline/ ) to downtown if you're traveling lightly. Otherwise....I'd say unless there are major storms/delays/sports event if there is traffic, it shouldn't slow you down that much.
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:40
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

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Thanks. It's a Saturday. Would getting a taxi offer any significant time savings?
i took a taxi and it seemed very quick, although i was buy gawking at everything. maybe you should check with a local to make sure there are no expected jams due to sports events etc.
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:43
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

It takes me 20 mins from ORD to Downtown Chicago by car! It's I-90 or Kennedy Expressway and on a Saturday you have no problem with traffic.
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Old 22.08.2011, 19:15
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

It took me 2.5 hours to get through the immigration line last month (landed ca. 15:30); the problem was there were only 2 officers working the US citizen lines, 2 working the non-citizen lines.

The trip before that took ca. 15 minutes.

One never knows what one might find at O'Hare.

Try to carry your luggage on if possible - even when immigration is a breeze the baggage claim can be a PITA.

Enjoy your trip!

(Mmmm... Chicago BBQ ribs.... Mmmm... )
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Old 22.08.2011, 19:29
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

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(Mmmm... Chicago BBQ ribs.... Mmmm... )
Chicago style pizza, PBRs and frozen custard. Root beer! All night diners! And the Cubs! And Lakeshore Drive! The Field Museum! *sigh* I miss Chicago.
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Old 22.08.2011, 21:38
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

I'd recommend a taxi and skipping the train if speed is important. From T5 to the station will involve a monorail and walking, eating up at least 15 minutes. The blue line train itself is not fast either. And on a Saturday afternoon going into town traffic shouldn't be a major factor.

Regarding immigration, based on my approx 15 times clearing at ORD I would say 1.5 hours max. until you are out the door. There are two immigration halls side by side not immediately obvious to incoming passengers. Normally they don't allow you to self-select which one you want to use but if the lines are huge at the first one it may be worth a quick look at the other one?? Can be a matter of lucky timing when they just open the other side when you arrive
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Old 22.08.2011, 22:20
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

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I am planning a trip involving a flight to Chicago O'Hare airport.

The flight is schedlued to land at 2:45pm.

After that I would have to queue for immigration, collect my luggage and catch the Blue Line into Chicago. I would like to attend an event at 6pm in downtown Chicago. If time allows I'd like to check into the hotel room on the way (also downtown Chicago / Loop) to freshen up.

Is that realistic, taking into account immigration delays and general airport hassle and possible flight delays? (flight is Delta from Paris)

Thank you for your insights.
No.

I'll tell you why.

Your flight is scheduled to arrive at 2:45. Depending what airline you're flying, you can expect to be late, especially if it's not American or United. Expect 1 hour MINIMUM in queue for immigration. You're arriving at peak arrival time in the summer at one of the busiest airports in the US. You can check the latest wait times here: http://apps.cbp.gov/awt/ For the month of July, the average wait time was 25 minutes, with a maximum of 82 minutes.

After you've cleared immigration you'll have to wait for your bags. You'll also be waiting with all of the other international travelers arriving at that block of time (I know you've done this drill before). Unlike in European airports, there is no red/green line. So you'll be looked at again after you have your luggage and, odds are you'll go on about your day.

If you get referred for an inspection, this could add 30-60 minutes onto your clearance, depending on what the reason for referral is and how long the queue is there.

So now you're up to a maximum of 142 minutes.

Add in the commute from the airport to downtown, and you're cutting it very close to 6:00 with no time to relax or adjust for jet lag.

This is of course the worst case scenario.

The best case is, you arrive on time, spend 10 minutes in queue for immigration, your bags are already on the baggage claim, and there's no queue to exit. But that seldom happens with an afternoon peak arrival.

Good luck!
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Old 22.08.2011, 22:22
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Re: How much time should I allow at Chicago O'hare airport?

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heh. you just reminded me of a conversation with the border-guard:

guard: where will you work?
me: in chicago
guard: where exactly?
me: in sear's tower
guard: where in sear's tower?
me: [number and address]
guard (now very annoyed): yes, but where will you work? what is the company name?
me: oh! you mean for whom will i be working - i'll be working for [company x]
guard: [pauses and narrows eyes] have a good day (though gritted teeth)
me: [grin]
"whom" is a funny sounding British version of "who" to us Yankees.
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