• The Jet Lag Junkie

Upgrades To Chicago O'Hare's Terminal 5 Begin

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) broke ground this past Wednesday on the first phase of a $1.2 billion dollar expansion of Chicago O'Hare's international Terminal 5.

Photos courtesy of the Chicago Department of Aviation

This past Wednesday, March 20th, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and aviation officials broke ground on a $1.2 billion dollar expansion of Chicago O'Hare's International Terminal 5. This also kicks off the first phase of a massive $8.5 billion dollar revamp of the airport. With the Terminal 5 completion date to be sometime in 2021, the current 25 year old terminal will include 10 new gates to accommodate large aircraft in an effort to help reduce delays. The terminal will also see a 75 percent increase for passenger amenities including 15 new dining and retail locations, the city said. It will also result in a 70 percent expansion of premium lounge space, which includes a new Delta Sky Club. The expansion is expected to increase the total building area by a whopping 350,000ft².

Jeff Davidman, from left, vice president of government affairs at Delta Airlines; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Oscar Munoz, president and CEO of United Airlines; and Franco Tedeschi, regional vice president of American Airlines, gather March 20 at O'Hare International Airport. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: “Chicago and its airline partners are propelling the nation’s best-connected travel hub to the next level, starting with a more than $1bn infusion that will bring new gates and expanded amenities to Terminal 5.

“With the improvements we are making today, O’Hare will continue to set new records and fuel more connectivity, tourism, and economic impact for the city well into the future.

As a Chicago native, this one hits closer to home and something that has been needed for some time. For anyone who has flown in and out of O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 5, you may know it for its long lines and dated amenity space. One of the best things to hear was that with these upgrades, Terminal 5 will have a larger security checkpoint with six new security lanes and improved immigration facilities. Those leaving out of this terminal today know the issues around long security lines and inefficient processes.

Photos courtesy of the Chicago Department of Aviation

A notable move once the new gates are completed is the relocation of Delta Airlines to Terminal 5 from its current home at Terminal 2. Eventually, all American Airlines and United Airlines operations, along with many other international carriers, will relocate to the new O'Hare Global Terminal which is set to be completed in 2028, the city said. While O'Hare's Terminal 5 was originally built as an international terminal, it will have more domestic flights once the project is completed.

Overall, while this is definitely a long haul project that is sure to last at least a decade, it is a move in a positive direction as it relates to us catching up with many international airports around the world. As someone who flies in and out of O'Hare almost weekly, this is a much needed and welcomed update that will almost certainly make for a positive experience for all passengers flying out, in and through the terminal. Now, I can only hope this construction doesn't affect road traffic in and out of O'Hare!


My name is John Toca. I'm a points and miles strategist based in Chicago, IL determined to find the best deals when it comes to anything travel related. In 2012, my first trip overseas changed me forever, and I've been on the move ever since. 


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