How Early To Arrive At O’Hare? (Don’t Miss Your Flight!)

People traveling from O’hare Airport should arrive at the check-in counter at least 90 minutes before their domestic flight. Additionally, for international flights, people should arrive at least 3 hours before departure time.

Airports can be difficult for people, especially if you don’t fly that often. They include long check-in lines, too many security checks, luggage boarding issues, pass collection hassles, and many more problems. 

Time goes by fast when trying to catch a flight on time. International departures take a ridiculous time, and people often miss their flights. 

O’hare airport, just like any other, has most of these issues. If you are flying from this airport, you must come in early to make it to your flight.

I have frequently traveled from O’hare airport for business, so I know the timing problems at this particular terminal. In this article, I will talk about different types of departures and how early you should arrive to catch your flight on time.

How Early Should One Get To O’hare Airport?

How Early To Arrive At O'Hare?

It is recommended to reach O’hare Airport at least one and half hours before your domestic flight. For international flights, travelers should arrive at least 3 hours earlier than their scheduled flight.

Airport check-in is a long and somewhat painful process. They will include a host of necessary activities like collecting boarding passes, making baggage checks, passing security checks, and much more.

Many airlines have additional check-in procedures that will make you spend more time before even reaching the lounge. If you travel internationally, the entire process will include even more procedures and require more time than usual.

If you are not careful enough, you may spend too much time at check-ins and miss your flight. Since it’s rather difficult to rebook a different flight, you must ensure that it arrives bright and early.

For people with a lot of experience with traveling by air, arriving one hour before the last call will be more than enough. However, for people who don’t know airports that well, it will take much longer.

People flying less frequently should be here at least 1.5 hours before their flight. This is applicable only if you are flying domestically.

If you are taking an international flight, you should arrive about 3-4 hours before your flight. Trust me when I say it’s safer to relax at the lounge than to freak out while waiting in line.

You can feel that waiting 2 hours is a long time, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. With all the check-in shenanigans, you won’t have much time to rest or enjoy the lounge.

What Time Is O’hare Busiest?

O’hare airport is the busiest from 9 am-10 am in the mornings. Additionally, during the festive season, it remains crowded throughout the day.

Most people tend to take flights in the morning. People going for a round trip select an early time slot for convenience.

From my observation, the 9 am-10 am hour sees a lot of crowds at O’hare airport. People are stuffed everywhere in the airport during this time.

Since people like to come in early for their flight, they select the same slot for arriving here. International travelers especially arrive during this time.

During the festive seasons, the airport stays busy throughout the days. The entire week will be crowded due to the number of people flying across the country.

Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving, July, and Easter especially see a big rush. It is recommended to come in extra early for your flight during these seasons.

People traveling in groups also need to allot an extra 15 minutes to ensure everyone is past the check-in procedures before the final call. You can simply start the process and wait at the lounge if someone is late.

How Long Does It Take To Get Through Security At O’hare?

Usually, security checks at O’hare airport take about 10-15 minutes. You can allot 30 minutes or more to the process, especially during the festive seasons.

Getting through security at O’hare airport is relatively easy and less time-consuming. The check-in usually takes only 15 minutes if everything is well. 

In case of a problem, you might be delayed for some time but not more than another 10 minutes. However, you might end up being here for 45 minutes during rush hours and festive seasons.

O’hare airport has ten security checkpoints that are spread over four terminals. Each security checkpoint is connected to designated pre-check lines.

When there are fewer crowds, most of these security checkpoints stay empty. You won’t have a problem getting through in under 15 minutes.

If traveling in a big group or with family, remember that 15 minutes will count for each member. In that case, you need to come earlier with enough time.

What Time Does TSA Open At O’hare?

Checkpoint Time 
CP14:00 am-8:30 pm
CP24:15 am-8:30 pm
CP34:00 am-6:0​​0 pm
CP44:00 am-8​:30 pm
CP54:00 am-8​:30 pm
CP63:45 am-8:00 pm
CP73:30​ am-9:00 pm
CP7A3:15 am-10:00 pm
CP85:00 am-7:00 ​​pm
CP95:00 am-8:00 pm
CP1024 hours
CP1112:30 pm-8:30 pm

O’hare airport has 12 checkpoints for TSA. They are spread over four terminals. 

Only terminal 4 doesn’t have a TSA checkpoint. All checkpoints have varying times of opening.

The CP10 checkpoint is the only checkpoint among the 12 that stays open all day. It is located at terminal 5 and remains open for 24 hours.

Other checkpoints are open anywhere from 3.15 am to 12:30 pm. The checkpoint that opens earliest is located at terminal 3 and is named CP7A. 

CP11 is the last terminal to open at 12:30 pm. It is also the previous terminal to close at 8:30 pm. 

The waiting time for all checkpoints is more or less 5 minutes. Sometimes it can cross the 5-minute mark due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Final Remarks

Now you know you must come early if you want to catch your flight on time. I recommend not taking this information lightly since missing your flight is an expensive mistake.

You should be extra careful when taking an international flight to a different country. It might sound pretty tedious, but it is also necessary to follow these instructions.

Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve discussed so far.

You must arrive at O’hare airport at least 1.5 hours before your domestic flight. If you take an international flight, you must arrive at least 3 hours early for check-in.