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O'Hare or Dulles?

Hello everyone. I am planning a trip next May, and will be flying United home between Munich and LAX, with a stop in either O'Hare or Dulles. The times between flights are similar at either connecting airport. I have never traveled through Dulles before, so was wondering if there is anything to recommend it over O'Hare or vice versa. Thank you all!

Posted by
18064 posts

I've flown home from Germany several times through Chicago, never through Dallas. In fact, going to Denver, I would avoid Dallas like the plague in favor of Chicago, but to LA, Dallas might be alright - if you use the same airline - . As I was advised by Dallas people on a job interview, changing airlines in Dallas is a nightmare.

Posted by
988 posts

DULLES is in Washington DC. Been through both, to me personally, it is six of one - half a dozen of the other. No discernible difference from my point of view. Sorry for being so non-helpful.

Posted by
18064 posts

OK, Dulles or Dallas. I read that wrong. I really have no feelings either way. My daughter came back from UK through Dulles several years ago and it went seamlessly; I came back through O'Hare last year with the same results. . . . . . . . ¶ I avoided Dulles for a few years after 9/11 because it was in our country's capital, and, I thought, a target, but I don't think that is an issue any more. BTW, why is it when looking for flights, a flight through Dulles usually just says "one change", while through any other US airport, the airport is usually identified.

Posted by
9110 posts

Dulles is in an undisclosed secret location.

Posted by
1370 posts

Done this many times and my recommendation is Chicago. The main reason is to maximize the length of the intl flight where the service will be better and shorten the domestic leg where you will have almost no service. At Dulles, you will connect in the same terminal though you will of course have to go through security again. In Chicago, you will arrive at the Intl terminal, then have to take the train to the domestic and go through security and possibly go through the underground walkway depending on whether your flight leaves from the B or C gates. Even with this extra bit, I would still vote for Chicago.

Posted by
3580 posts

I connected thru Dulles (IAD) a few years ago. The airport seemed fairly small and easy to negotiate. I also connected thru O'Hare once; it was ok, but huge with lots of traveling within the airport...... This year I had a choice and will connect thru IAD on my way home.

Posted by
1280 posts

I've done both several times and also recommend O'Hare.

Posted by
951 posts

Thank you to everyone for your responses. I appreciate your input!

Posted by
473 posts

One other reason to choose O'Hare - it's a MAJOR hub for United. If something goes wrong with your connection, you would probably stand a better chance of getting on another United flight at O'Hare.

Posted by
1589 posts

Eric, If you have a long wait between flights, O'Hara has much more to offer.

Posted by
4569 posts

Both Dulles and O'Hare are hubs for United. At Dulles, in-transit passengers on United go through immigration in the United terminal. I'd be inclined to choose based on schedule. I'd also check to see which airport has more flights back to LAX after you arrive (e.g. if for some reason your flight is delayed and you miss your connection, can you get a later flight).

Posted by
951 posts

Thank you all again for your answers! I have one more question...well, maybe two! I'm looking at connection times at O'Hare of either 2 hours and 15 minutes or 3 1/2 hours. Would 2 hours and 15 minutes be cutting it too close? At Dulles, the connections are either 2 or three hours. Again, would 2 hours be enough time? I appreciate you sharing your experience with me!

Posted by
2876 posts

2 hours should be adequate at O'Hare, and if your plane from Munich is late and you miss your connection, United has flights from ORD to LAX just about every 2 hours.

Posted by
5582 posts

Two hours should be fine for O'Hare. If your flight is late, then they will put you on another flight. If there are issues with weather, then there is not much you can do. Weather happens everywhere! I recently flew through Chicago to Madison flying on American. When I got to O'Hare it was a mess. But amazingly, American put me up for the night. I think it was because I remained pleasant, looked really, really tired and did have good airline status. I could have caught a bus home, but after nearly 20 hours of travel since I woke at my hotel I was not up for a bus ride! Pam

Posted by
2193 posts

I'll have to vote for ORD because it's THE major hub for the airline and because of the many flight options with United should something go wrong with your flight. This summer, I flew through ORD to National in DC and experienced massive delays and cancellations due to a huge afternoon tornado outbreak in the area. Both airports were closed for awhile, expressways were flooded and totally jammed, and flights were delayed for hours or mostly cancelled. When we finally got to the airport, we were able to get a later flight out (much later...close to midnight), but we got out that night. I had to fly out that night for meetings the next day...it seems the more options, the better. That's my logic anyway.

Posted by
8431 posts

If this helps for connection time - I just came through Dulles last Saturday. It took 1 1/2 hours to get through Immigration and Customs. That did not include the time to get to the next gate.

Posted by
1780 posts

Personally, I'll NEVER connect through Dulles again. First time I missed my flight to Denver. I had 2 hours to get through passport control and customs and it wasn't enough time. I just returned from France and came through O'Hare. It was quick and easy, even with having to take the train from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1. Passport control took 5 minutes, got my luggage within 20 minutes. Got through customs, rechecked my bag and got my boarding pass. Was at my gate at C 10 minutes before boarding started.

Posted by
11798 posts

I've connected through both. I would chose Dulles. The main reason is Chicago kicks me out into pre-security and the line to get back in can be horrific - last time I had serious doubts whether I would make my connection (even though I had 2 1/2 hours)........................ Dulles lines seem long but move faster because they have more stations working............. Dulles added an underground tram to get to the different terminals which has helped a lot - much better than the old system - but I noted when I returned from Copenhagen last time, they were still forcing incoming international traffic onto the old busses..........Either way coming back seems to be the bigger hassle than departing.

Posted by
11798 posts

Maybe O'Hare is the better choice. There is a pilot program now at O'Hare. If your plane is late, and you have under an hour and a half until your connection, ask for help from the airline (usually AA but apparently BA and others too). They have a program to speed you through processing so you don't miss your flight (Customs and TSA are both working with the airlines there to help). The test program is only at Chicago right now but may be used later at other airports too.

Houston now has a test program to get people with carry-on only out quicker. Rather than route you through the entire process, you're out soon as you clear passport control.

Posted by
8 posts

I think it is a wash. I've had terrible experiences with O'Hare. We connected through Dulles 2 weeks ago, and on Friday 10/24 on the way back from Paris. Dulles seemed very cramped- not enough room to walk around other passengers, and not much to offer if you've got a long layover.

We had 1.5 hours to connect and we made it with a little time to spare (next time I'll book a little longer layover). I was amazed at how fast they produced our checked bags to be rechecked for our connecting flight, and passport control was pretty efficient, even though several int'l flights arrived at the same time.

Posted by
5582 posts

I've been thinking about this some more, and I think that ultimately, it's cost and which connecting destination has more flights to your destination. It might be best to connect through one city on the way out and another on the way home.

Pam

Posted by
5469 posts

I will echo Pam. Cheapest rules, any other assessment is based on anectdote or guess