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O'Hare Chicago airport: from domestic flight terminals to the International Terminal

Our outgoing flight to Heathrow requires us to get from O'Hare Terminal 3 [American Airlines] to the International Terminal in 90 minutes. The shuttle that used to run inside security has been suspended because of covid, according to the airport website. Thus, it appears we need to exit security, take an outside bus to the International Terminal, and then re-enter security. We will have carry-on only luggage. We do have business class tickets, which might allow priority thru security, but not sure TSA Pre-check means much for an international flight [BA].

Any thoughts or shortcuts, other than move as fast as we can?
Thanks so much!

Posted by
1369 posts

I believe that the train that connects the terminals runs regularly so I don’t think you should have a problem getting to terminal 5. Also check online but I would bet that there is TSA Precheck there since security will be controlled by them.

Posted by
4404 posts

We just did this on Sunday. You must exit terminal 3 and take a bus to terminal 5. The signage is very confusing. The TSA/security line in terminal 5 had only one agent and it took about 30 minutes. I cannot think of any way to make it faster except to run.

Posted by
1477 posts

Emily, thanks, you did just confirm what we suspected, and that the transport inside of security is temporarily not running. Safe travels!

Posted by
947 posts

temporarily not running.

Sadly, not quite as temporary as they had hoped! Work on this started in May 2018. It shut down for good January 2019. Was supposed to take until Fall 2020 to be back up and running, but still a no go, as they are having reliability issues with the new cars. Anyone interested can check out links below...

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/midwest/1910239-total-shutdown-ats-ord-may-30-a.html

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/united-airlines-mileageplus/1948705-people-mover-ats-o-hare-ord-shuttle-train-cease-ops-until-202-a.html

Posted by
115 posts

British Airways does participate in PreCheck. Definitely get your Known Traveler# in their system so that you get the indication on your boarding pass.

Whether there's a PreCheck lane open when you're going through... that's it's own, unanswerable question.

Posted by
1477 posts

My husband read that taking a $10 cab from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 is much faster than using the bus, as it slowly goes all around the airport.
Any comments? Thanks!

Posted by
4404 posts

The bus ride took less than 10 minutes but we didn’t have to wait for it as it was sitting there when we left the terminal. Seems silly to me to take a taxi when it was the TSA bottleneck that was the issue.

Posted by
947 posts

RE: taking a taxi. I don't know if this is true at ORD, but at many airports a taxi driver has to go to the back of the line after picking somebody up. If this is also true at ORD, I can imagine the driver might be a tad grumpy at losing their place in line for a $10 fare.

Posted by
1477 posts

Emily, you mentioned that the signage was confusing. What are your recommendations to overcome this? Was it lack of signs? You are really helping us, thx so much.

Posted by
4404 posts

The signs for Terminal 5 would just not be there. In other words, we would follow signs for T5 and then no more signs. We stopped two different flight personnel to ask for help and they were also confused so together we asked different airport staff. I’m a frequent international traveler who prides herself on sense of direction and not getting lost. This was just poor execution of signage.

Posted by
783 posts

Hi Pat,

O'Hare is my home airport. Unfortunately, this is could be a tricky connection for you without the shuttle running between terminal 3 and 5 (you didn't mention when you leave, perhaps it will be up and running again). Short version, if you are able to get on an earlier flight to get a longer layover, I would do so. Or see if you can switch to a flight operated by AA (but would be British Airways codeshare) which would leave out of Terminal 3.

If the people mover is up and running by then, it will be a bit better. But as a previous poster said, they have been working on that a couple of years. So you have to exit the airport and follow signs for the shuttle buses. You can get to them from the departures or arrival section of the airport. It would be at most a 12-15 minute walk, maybe faster depending on your pace and that is only if you are arriving on the furthest away gates. It could easily be a 5 minute walk. I think if you know you are looking for the signage for the shuttle buses, that will be more straightforward.

Security lines in terminal 5 are a nightmare. There are no TSA precheck lanes since these are all international airlines. If you are lucky enough to be flying business class, there are business class priority lanes.

If you walk out of the airport and there is a short taxi line, I agree to get in a taxi- more predictable and faster than the buses.

Good luck to you.

Posted by
1477 posts

Kristen,
We do have Business Class, so that Priority Line should help. And BA supposedly now does honor TSA Pre-check, BUT it certainly isn't ideal, and BA wouldn't let us change, so I just hope we are very lucky .

Thx so much for your input!

Posted by
6171 posts

. . . wait, are you saying that they have special security lines for business class travelers at O'Hare? Or are you just saying that you have TSA-Pre?

I would not choose to do that short a connection at O'Hare. Even if you're incoming flight is on time, it can still take 10-15 minutes just to get off the plane, if you're not way up-front. Before arrival, check the flight status and see which gate your Lndon flight will be at. You can try to catch a ride on the cart service.

Posted by
1477 posts

Kristen reported Business Class priority lines- hopefully they are manned.

Posted by
16169 posts

See if you can switch to the 6:15 am AA flight to O'Hare. That will give you another 3 hours at O'Hare for a relaxed transfer.

Posted by
783 posts

Clarification:

Terminal 5, where international flights on international carriers will leave from, only has priority lanes for business class. They do not have a precheck lanes. Now if you show a precheck to the TSA agent, will they let you into the priority lane? Potentially, I haven't tried. You can't walk to terminal 5 from other terminals. You must take the people mover (when it is functioning which it is currently not functioning) or the interterminal buses.

All of the other terminals have priority lanes for business AND precheck (sometimes precheck can still be pretty long) and you can walk between them. If you are on an international flight operated by American/United/Delta, you are going to leave from one of those terminals.

Hope that helps!

I agree, O'hare is awful.

Posted by
1477 posts

Sam, BA refused to switch us to that earlier flight. Thanks for trying.