During a recent trip that involved a significant layover at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), the question arose: Is it possible to catch some sleep within the airport?
With hours to spare until my next flight and a hotel stay not quite justifiable, the prospect of resting at ORD became increasingly appealing.
This guide reflects my experience and aims to offer valuable insights for travelers contemplating a similar situation.
The Viability of Sleeping at ORD
Chicago O’Hare, known for its vast size and status as a major international hub, operates around the clock.
This 24/7 activity means the airport doesn’t shut down at night, presenting a potential opportunity for overnight stays within its premises.
Preparing for the Night
Anticipating my overnight stay, I scouted for optimal spots to rest. The airport spans multiple terminals, each with varying degrees of comfort and quietness.
Early in the evening, I explored Terminals 1, 2, and 3, noting areas away from the main walkways that seemed more conducive to relaxation.
Finding a Spot to Sleep
My search led me to a quieter section in Terminal 3, near some departure gates that were less busy during the nighttime hours.
Here, rows of seats without armrests offered a relatively comfortable option to stretch out. While not all seating areas at ORD are designed with sleep in mind, this particular spot struck a balance between accessibility and seclusion.
As the night progressed, the general hustle of the airport diminished, though it never became completely quiet.
Ambient noises from cleaning crews and late-night flights persisted, so earplugs and an eye mask proved invaluable for creating a more sleep-friendly environment.
Security personnel were present throughout the night, patrolling the terminals. Their occasional checks were unobtrusive and contributed to a sense of safety during my stay.
It was clear that sleeping in the airport, while not officially endorsed, is tolerated as long as it doesn’t disrupt operations or other passengers.
Amenities and Facilities
Restrooms remained accessible throughout the night, and a few 24-hour food vendors offered snacks and drinks—a welcome resource for any late-night cravings or breakfast needs.
Charging stations near seating areas ensured that my devices were fully charged for the next leg of my journey.
Tips for Sleeping at ORD
Based on my overnight experience at O’Hare, here are several tips for travelers considering a similar approach:
- Choose Your Spot Wisely: Look for areas away from the main concourses and walkways. Terminals 1 and 3 have sections that tend to be quieter at night.
- Bring Comfort Items: A travel pillow, blanket, earplugs, and eye mask can significantly enhance your comfort and ability to sleep in a public space.
- Stay Secure: Keep your belongings close and consider a small lock for your luggage. While ORD is generally safe, it’s wise to take precautions.
- Mind the Lights: The airport remains well-lit throughout the night. An eye mask can help block out unwanted light.
- Stay Informed: Be aware of your flight’s departure gate and time. Overnight stays can disorient your sense of time, especially without the usual daytime airport announcements.
Sleeping at Chicago O’Hare International Airport is indeed feasible and can be a practical choice for travelers with long layovers or unscheduled overnight stays.
While the environment is far from the comforts of a hotel room, with some preparation and the right mindset, it’s possible to get some rest and refreshment before your next flight.
My night at ORD, while an adventure of sorts, was a positive one, offering a surprisingly effective way to pass the time and conserve resources during travel.
For those finding themselves needing to stay overnight at O’Hare, the experience can be manageable and even moderately comfortable with some planning.