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2h 15 min layover at O'Hare enough?

Hi there,
My family will be going to Europe in a few months.
We are 2 adults, a 3 year old, and a 1 year old. On our way home in the beginning of June we would travel from Munich to Chicago O'Hare's terminal 5. Then there is a 2 hour 15 min layover before our flight to Phoenix leaves from terminal 1.
What do you all think, is that possible?
We arrive in Chicago at 6:25 pm. I'm not sure how busy immigration and customs usually is during that time?
How long is the train ride? And I understand we will have to go through security again after the train ride. Is that correct?
Thanks for your help!

Posted by
544 posts

That's a pretty close connection considering you have to go through customs.

I have a feeling they might change your flights before then. Looking at, there's a 10:30 flight from Chicago-Pheonix that they could move you to if there's a schedule change or if you're delayed.

I booked a flight home Bergen-Amsterdam-Seattle this August. The connection in Amsterdam was only an hour. They changed my flights twice on me already, first they moved me to Bergen-Amsterdam-Detroit-Seattle, and then again to new flights Bergen-Amsterdam-Seattle, but the new flight leaves at 6am and I have to be in Amsterdam for 5 hours now. I'm not too excited about the long layover, but the ticket price was sure good, so I'm not complaining.

Posted by
10 posts

I live in Chicago and have gone through O'Hare hundreds of times. It really depends on what day you are coming in.....I have never waited longer than a half hour through customs or the security checks in terminal 1. If you arrive on a Friday or Sunday night, you might be pushing the time.
The tram ride to Terminal One is about 15 minutes. I assume you are flying United, they are pretty good about helping young families out through security.
When you get through customs, United will have a baggage check area for connecting flights, you will not have to drag your luggage to T1.
Good luck, you should be fine!

Posted by
3 posts

What is the likelihood of ORD arrivals being delayed in June due to thunderstorms or other weather? How fully staffed is ORD's immigration and customs in the evening? How many int'l flights are right in front of you especially those that are 747s & 777s? That's why I would allow 3 hours. That you will probably have plenty of time at ORD will give you a good excuse to walk around after 9-10 hours on a plane.

I was worried about those things too. Sadly it's not showing me options for another flight to Phoenix in my booking options. I'm booking through Lufthansa but the ORD PHX flight is operated by United.
Any ideas?

Posted by
8071 posts

if you have checked bags, there is also the time it takes for your baggage to get off the plane, before you can go through customs. The big wide bodies take a long time to unload.

Posted by
18477 posts

Suggest you take connections through Washington Dulles or Newark. Longer connection times and don't have to worry about taking the skytrain at those airports.

Posted by
824 posts

It's probably too late to Global Entry but it's worth a try if you plan more international travel in the coming years. Global Entry gives you expedited passport control and also comes with TSA Pre-Check.

Posted by
5827 posts

I haven't been through ORD in a long time but in the past have made 30 minute domestic connections. The reason I avoid ORD are summer afternoon thunderstorms slowing down air traffic. That said, if your inbound to ORD is delayed, its likely that the aircraft for your outbound flight will also be similarly delayed.

If you want to worry, a worst case than a weather delay caused by increased landing separations is you Transatlantic flight having to divert because of low fuel caused by the landing delay. So why worry. If you are delayed with a missed flight you will just be on a holiday adventure a bit longer. Better to be delayed ending a trip than at the start.

Posted by
22868 posts

I don't think anyone can accurately determined if that is enough time. From our experience it should be but we recently were caught in OHare because the immigration computers died and they could not process any passport. Took over an hour after we got there before they started processing and the lines were long and Global Entry never did function. We made our four hour window just as they started swinging the door shut.

Posted by
9363 posts

I have come through O'Hare Terminal 5 lots of times, and aside from the wait for a checked bag, I have never had much of a wait to get through immigration. Customs is a walk through the green door (no stops unless you are randomly chosen, and that is doubtful with a couple of toddlers). If I understand correctly, your flight was all booked as one ticket, it's just that the legs are operated by different airlines? In that case, if the layover is not long enough to get you to your next plane, they have to put you on the next available to your destination. I think if you keep moving, that should be enough time to get to T1 in time. And as another poster noted, if you inform the desk agent of your tight connection, they might be able to help move you along quicker. Unlike MrsEB, I don't think packing a carryon bag will help you. I can't imagine trying to do carryon only (which is the only thing that could help, in that regard) with two little ones.

Posted by
2068 posts

We still haven't addressed your concern about having to go through security again after you clear immigration. I don't think you do, but it's been several trips since we went through ORD, so hopefully someone else will know about that.

My only suggestion is to make sure you have whatever you need to keep the kids content if there are delays.

Posted by
1130 posts

Suggest you take connections through Washington Dulles or Newark. Longer connection times and don't have to worry about taking the skytrain at those airports.

Newark has the Airtrain. If your international arrival is into Terminal B, and your ongoing domestic connector is departing from Terminal C or A-which is likely--you will be taking a train ride between terminals.

Posted by
2 posts

We were through O'Hare from London last September. Plane was late and had only a one hour and 45 minute connection time. We did have to go through security when we went to the next terminal for our connecting flight. The security lines were totally filled and running down past the airline desks so that you had to look for the end of the line. Our TSA precheck line was as long and slow as the rest. Yes, we made it but barely. Do I want to do that again? No way.

Posted by
4535 posts

Changing from T5 to T1 will require going through security at T1. O'Hare security lines can be quite long; don't be surprised at an hour wait if you don't have pre-check.

In your case, I would think 2:15 is not enough time. Boarding will start 30 minutes prior so you really have 1:45 to 2:00 hours. You'll have to deplane, go through immigration and collect your luggage. That alone could be close to an hour. Then transfer to T1, go through security and get to your gate (T1 is a very big terminal). And all this with toddlers who will need potty time and so on.