||O’Hare International Airport (ORD): Domestic flights arrive at Terminal 1, 2 or 3, while international flights always arrive at Terminal 5. A magnet train, the Airport Transit System (ATS), runs every few minutes between all terminals. A connecting flight likely departs from a different terminal than where you arrive. For an airport map click here.
If you arrive in Chicago on an international flight, you must first clear Immigration, then pick up your luggage and clear Customs. This may take an hour. Then, if you have a connecting flight, pay attention at which exit the baggage belts are located, and before you leave the Customs area, re-check your luggage to your final destination.
When making travel arrangements, allow enough time to make connections in Chicago between flights at different terminals, which means having to go through security again, or for the transit between airport and train station:
:: For connecting flights, allow two hours of layover between domestic flights, three hours
between an incoming international flight and the flight into Springfield.
:: If you fly into Chicago and then plan to take the train to Springfield, allow three hours between
the scheduled arrival of a domestic flight and departure of the train; four hours between the
scheduled arrival of an international flight and departure of the train.
:: Note that the last train of the day from Chicago to Springfield departs at 7 p.m.
The CTA Blue Line: For the connection between the airport and downtown Chicago and the Amtrak train station, take the Blue Line of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). At O’Hare Airport, this train runs above ground. In downtown Chicago it runs below ground like a subway/metro train. For a map overview of the Blue Line between O’Hare Airport and downtown Chicago, check the box at the top of the next window when you click here.
At At O’Hare Airport, the CTA station to catch the Blue Line is below Terminal 2.
The Blue Line station closest to the Chicago Amtrak Union Station (CHI), is Clinton Street. There is a 2.5 block walk between Union Station and the Blue Line Clinton Street station. For a map overview of that walk, click here.
Note that the Clinton Street station does not have an elevator connecting the street level and the below-ground Blue Line platform level, but only a very narrow, steep escalator below ground and a flight of stairs to/from street level. Managing luggage to get up or down the Clinton Street station can be a challenge!
The train ride between O’Hare Airport and Clinton Street takes nearly an hour and costs around $3. Tickets can be purchased at vending machines in the station, just outside the platform area. Vending machines generally take cash only, so have $1 bills ready.
||Taxis: With several heavy pieces of luggage, taking a taxi between O’Hare Airport and Union Station may seem more convenient than the CTA. However, a taxi will probably not save time. During rush hour, a taxi may even take longer than the Blue Line between downtown and the airport.
||Amtrak Train/Union Station (CHI): Union Station services two train systems, the regional Metra rail and the long-distance Amtrak trains. Access to Amtrak trains at the lower level of the building is sometimes tricky to find. Click this map of Union Station’s ground level. Even if you have a ticket reservation, before you board the train you must pick up your ticket, either at a vending machine or at the Amtrak counter. Passengers wait in a boarding lounge until they are called up to board their train.
There are five trains a day on the “Lincoln Service” or “Texas Eagle” between Chicago Union Station (CHI) and Springfield (SPI) in both directions. To find a schedule overview in downloadable PDF format click here
. The ride normally takes about 3.5 hours. The cost can range from $16 (with student discount) to more than $50 one way, depending on when you make the reservation. For the most up-to-date Amtrak schedule and ticket reservations, visit the Amtrack website
In order to catch the last train of the day from Chicago to Springfield
, departing Union Station at 7 p.m., an international flight into Chicago should have a scheduled arrival time of no later than 3 p.m. This late train arrives in Springfield around 10:30 p.m. Note that only at the beginning of the Fall semester is an IC Ride
scheduled to meet this train in Springfield for pickup. When arriving on this train at all other times, please make your own arrangements for transportation from Springfield to campus.
When taking the train from Springfield to Chicago
for flight connections at O’Hare Airport, plan at least four hours between the scheduled arrival of the train at Union Station and departure of your flight, and rely only on the first or second train of the day out of Springfield, early in the morning. (These trains come out of St. Louis and are generally on time; later trains arrive from far away and may have accumulated significant delay.) IC Rides
are set up to fit this schedule, including shuttles to meet the 6 a.m. train to Chicago at the end of each semester.
If your travel connections require you to stay in Chicago overnight, a safe and economical place is Hostelling International Chicago, part of the international youth hostel network. IC students also stay there when they want to explore the city.