how to get from chicago union station to o'hare airport?

Traveling from Chicago Union Station to O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is a journey that thousands of travelers navigate daily.

Whether you’re a Chicago native or a visitor to the Windy City, understanding the most efficient and stress-free way to make this transition can greatly enhance your travel experience.

Based on my recent trip from Union Station to ORD, here is a comprehensive guide, detailing each step of the way and offering insights to help you navigate this route with ease.

Initial Considerations

Chicago Union Station, a key hub for Amtrak and Metra services, sits at the heart of downtown Chicago.

Given its central location, it’s well-connected to various modes of public transportation, making the trip to O’Hare not only possible but relatively straightforward.

Choosing Your Mode of Transport

 Clinton Blue Line Station

Several options are available for this journey, including public transit, rideshare services, taxis, and shuttles.

My decision to use the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line was influenced by its direct route, affordability, and reliability, making it a popular choice among both locals and visitors.

Step 1: Navigating to the Clinton Blue Line Station

The closest Blue Line station to Union Station is the Clinton Station, located approximately a 7-minute walk away.

Exiting Union Station, I headed north on Clinton Street, following the signage directing me towards the CTA Blue Line. The walk is straightforward and well-marked, allowing even first-time visitors to find their way easily.

Step 2: Boarding the Blue Line to O’Hare

Upon arriving at Clinton Station, I purchased a Ventra ticket from one of the vending machines. A single ride to O’Hare costs $5.00, a price increase specific to the O’Hare station that reflects its status as a major transport hub. The machines accept both cash and cards, making the transaction process convenient.

The Blue Line trains to O’Hare run with a frequency of approximately every 5-10 minutes during peak times and about every 10-15 minutes during off-peak hours.

The journey from Clinton Station to O’Hare takes roughly 45 minutes, offering a scenic view of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods along the way.

Step 3: Arriving at O’Hare

 how to get from chicago union station to o'hare airport?

The Blue Line terminates at the O’Hare Station, located within the airport complex and directly connected to Terminal 2.

Upon arrival, clear signage directed me towards the airport terminals. For those needing to reach Terminals 1, 3, or the International Terminal 5, O’Hare offers the Airport Transit System (ATS) – a free, 24/7 automated people mover.

The ATS can be accessed easily from the Blue Line station, ensuring a smooth transition to all terminals.

Alternatives: Rideshare and Taxi Services

For travelers with heavy luggage or those preferring a more direct route, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft offer an alternative to public transportation.

A rideshare from Union Station to O’Hare typically costs between $30 to $50, depending on traffic and time of day. Taxis are also available outside Union Station, offering fixed rates to O’Hare and the convenience of door-to-door service.

Tips for a Smooth Journey

  • Check the CTA Schedule: Before departing, verify the Blue Line schedule, especially if traveling early in the morning or late at night.
  • Allow for Extra Time: While the Blue Line is reliable, allocating extra time for your journey can mitigate any unexpected delays.
  • Consider Luggage: The Blue Line is commuter-friendly, but navigating crowded trains with large bags during peak hours can be challenging. If traveling with significant luggage, consider the ease of a taxi or rideshare.
  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on any service alerts or updates from the CTA that might affect your travel plans.


The journey from Chicago Union Station to O’Hare International Airport via the CTA Blue Line is an efficient, cost-effective option for travelers.

My experience highlighted the convenience and reliability of Chicago’s public transit system, providing a smooth transition from the heart of the city to one of the world’s busiest airports.

Whether you opt for the Blue Line, a taxi, or rideshare, planning ahead and considering your personal travel needs will ensure a seamless start or end to your journey through Chicago.

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