O'Hare Airport: Two hour layover for international flight--Enough time?

I might have an international flight in a couple of months. If I’ve done my homework correctly, I would be changing airlines in O’Hare, going from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5.

Assuming things are more or less on time, is two hours enough time? I thought it would, but an acquaintance didn’t think much of it, but didn’t explain why. Or will I have to wait in line again to go thru a long security checkpoint to show my papers.

I’ve been through O’Hare a number of times, as I’m sure most travelers in North America have. Two hours sounds like plenty of time to me.

Sure. Don’t dawdle, but you should have plenty of time to hit the restroom and get to your departure gate.

It’s been so long since I’ve traveled internationally, that I’ve forgotten how this works: Would you go through whatever extra level of scrutiny required for international passengers at your departure airport or at your connection in O’Hare? In other words, once you arrive in O’Hare, would you just go from one plane to another, or would you have to retrieve your luggage and then proceed through some additional screening to get on the flight that’s headed internationally?

If your luggage is being transferred by the airlines, plenty of time. If you have to pick it up and recheck it, it’s going to be close.

Plenty of time for a seasoned traveler. Cutting it close for someone who never travels.

I used to fly to India all the time with only a two hour layover in London or Paris or wherever. And I was a kid/teen. I think it’ll be fine. But then, they transferred my luggage and I only had my carryon stuff.

The second one, kind of. If you checked your luggage and are flying the same airline, you don’t have to worry about retrieving it as they’ll move it for you. You will, however, have to leave the secure area, take the ground transport to Terminal 5, and re-enter through security.

It should be ok on the way out, but it might be a little tight on the way back. Some airlines do international departures directly from the domestic gates, and in those cases it would be exactly like a domestic transfer. However, if your flight departs from T5, you will have to go through security again. In any event though, two hours should be plenty of time.

On the way back, you will have to go through immigration, collect the luggage, go through custom, recheck luggage, take the train to the domestic terminal, then go through security. The line at immigration can get pretty long if several 747s happen to unload at the same time and two hours could potentially be a little tight.

Are you literally “changing airlines,” or are you just getting on another plane with the same airline? If you are changing airlines you’ll have to retrieve your luggage and re-check it, both of which can take some time.

Yup. At this point no tickets have been purchased, though. This is just some early research.

If you have to collect your luggage from the first flight, take it to the other terminal, and re-check your bags before going through security – I think you’ll be cutting in close. It would depend on how long the lines are.

It’s O’Hare, so your layover will actually be more like five hours.

It depends on the airlines involved though. If they’re in the same alliance, they can usually check you in and get your bags checked all the way through. I’ve experienced this first hand between American and Cathay, as well as British Airways and Qantas.

Precisely. Especially if the departing flight is in the afternoon.

On the other hand, the arriving flight will probably be subject to a seven-hour ground stop, so the OP will probably be 2 hours late to the connecting flight.

(I hate O’Hare, in case you haven’t noticed.)

If you’re changing any airlines, any possibility of just not checking bags. My wife and are always able to travel with just carryon regardless of destination or duration and it smooths out a lot of the wrinkles (including a 2-week Europe trip limited to Virgin’s 13 pound carry-on limit).

If you have to retrieve and recheck bags it probably will be tight and is going to be a big problem if your first flight is very late at all.

A key question is would your trip be entirely destroyed if you missed the connection and ended up having to deal with the resulting hassle? If so, I wouldn’t take the risk, if you’re a more “roll with the punches” type traveler then it’s less of an issue.

I think your biggest problem would be if the first flight was delayed. Are both being booked on the same ticket? If so, it should be fine as the airline is responsible for the delay and will probably get you there on whatever your “conservative” delay would have been.

If you’re booking two different tickets, I would stagger it out a bit more, just because it sucks having the first flight be an hour late and then wondering for the entire duration of the flight whether you can make the second.

Terminal 5 is totally seperate from the rest of O’Hare. You have to take a people mover (electronic train) to get from Terminals 1,2 or 3 to Terminal 5.

Before 9-11 when anyone could go through security I’d go to Terminal 5 as the resturants were better there. :slight_smile:

I worked by O’Hare. Or I’d go there to sit and read. I don’t have A/C and on hot days, it was nice. Of course that was before 9-11.

The people mover will get you from terminal 2 to 5 in about 10 - 15 mintues, depending on how stupid people are. Since the train is automated you get unfamiliar people standing in the doorway and it won’t close and that holds things up a bit.

If at all possible, I avoid O’hare when I fly. Since you haven’t booked, I’d look at alternatives.

This sounds dangerous to me. I flew Shanghai->San Francisco->Washington DC and had ~2 hours in San Francisco to make my domestic connection. The flight from China arrived on time, but it was a 747 that had to deplane, then I had to wait for my checked luggage, go through Customs, change terminals, re-check my luggage and be re-screened, then get on the domestic flight. I did make the flight, but it had been delayed 30 minutes because of some minor mechanical issue. Without that delay, I think I might have missed it, as I was cutting it very close to what the end of the boarding time would have been once I got to the gate.

Now, I was a 17-year-old traveling by myself who’d never done something like that before, but everything went very smoothly and I didn’t have problems at Customs. And I was flying the same airline on both legs. It just took forever to get my bag to be checked and re-checked and it was very nerve-wracking. And SFO is probably easier than O’Hare. I’d allow more time if I were you.