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I estimate that I will have 45 minutes between arriving at O'Hare and when my flight leaves. I will have two bags to check in, and I'm on an international flight with EVA Air that leaves at 12:30 AM. Will 45 mins be enough time for me to check my bags, go through security, and board the plane?

Question update: What if, in a different scenario, I have 1 hour 30 minutes between arriving at O'Hare and the flight's departure, also with 2 bags to check?

Below is a screenshot of the flight I intend to board.

Additional UPDATE: This is the full plan for my trip in the case where I expect to arrive 1hr30 mins before boarding:

Leave Ann Arbor 6:51pm, arrive at Chicago O'Hare at 10:25pm (see screenshot below) on Amtrak (this is the only transport (coaches considered) that's compatible with my schedule that day).

Pre-schedule an Uber to go from Chicago Union Station to O'Hare, taking around 35 mins (also see screenshot below). Hope to get there no later than 11:05 in the worst case scenario. I can have the Uber drive me straight to terminal 5, which is where EVA Air will be.

Amtrak schedule

Google Maps Uber time estimate

EVA Air flight itinerary.

I appreciate all the answers and comments - they've really helped.

  • 7
    How will you be arriving? The international flights I've taken recently have had a 60 minute check-in deadline, although if I recall correctly the bag drop deadline for those who checked in online may have been later. But arriving at 11:45 for a 12:30 international flight is very likely to cause you to miss the flight. – phoog Mar 12 '18 at 21:26
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    @JimMacKenzie Re: question update: I'll be arriving there from Union station in Chicago on an Uber – user98937 Mar 12 '18 at 21:56
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    Are you flying in a premium cabin (first/business) or are you an elite member of their frequent flier program? If not, you have to take into account you'll have to queue before you get to bag drop, there are 200 other people wanting to do the same. Also over the next few days the flight is scheduled for 0:20, not 0:30, so that's another 10 minutes gone. And you probably want to make sure you have the right date, 0:20 on the 14th means in the night from 13th to 14th, not the night from the 14th to the 15th. – jcaron Mar 13 '18 at 0:07
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    @jcaron I'm travelling on April 26 2018, which says the plane leaves at 12:30am. I've updated the question to include a screenshot of this. – user98937 Mar 13 '18 at 12:44
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    Depending on how the OP is arriving at CUS, I would be very leery of counting on an arriving train being on-time, especially if it's an Amtrak train. An inbound train MAY arrive on time or early, but certainly no guarantee, and I wouldn't risk any sort of significant travel event based on the exactness of a train arrival time (at least here in the USA). – Milwrdfan Mar 13 '18 at 21:47
59

According to the airline's website, check-in counters at O'Hare are "closed punctually 1 hour before flight departure". Arriving 45 minutes before the scheduled departure will essentially guarantee that you will miss the flight.

  • 3
    If online checkin has been done, and one has no checked bags, one might still have a chance, but the lineups at O'Hare can be long. Having TSA Pre (to speed through security) might not be enough. And O'Hare is a big, big airport. One might have quite a hike to the gate. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 12 '18 at 21:32
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    @JimMacKenzie I didn't cover the "no checked bags" possibility because the question assumes "two bags to check in." – phoog Mar 12 '18 at 21:34
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    I mention it more for the benefit of future readers. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 12 '18 at 21:34
  • This is absolutely the right answer. Domestic flights are a different story, but international ones have hard deadlines. And indeed, it can take easily 30 minutes just to get from one side of O'Hare to the other, and international terminals are usually waaaaaaaay at the end. – thanby Mar 13 '18 at 16:32
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    CBP requires all passengers on flights to or from the US be checked in and go through APIS at least 60 minutes before departure. This is (one reason) why this time limit exists. – Michael Hampton Mar 13 '18 at 18:42
23

With a checked bag, I think you have zero chance of making this flight, and this assumes you arrive on your proposed schedule.

For an international flight, you should arrive two hours prior to departure - 90 minutes might be okay, but it could be pushing it. You can sometimes be in line for a significant amount of time while you wait to clear security, and it can take a significant amount of time at O'Hare to get to your gate from security.

I'd reschedule your flight if you can't arrive at least an hour sooner.

  • "significant" is an understatement. What's the worst case scenario? Like 20 minutes? – Mazura Mar 13 '18 at 0:27
  • @Mazura 20 minutes is closer to average case for security. Worst case? not sure. – Leliel Mar 13 '18 at 3:29
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    @Mazura It's not unheard of to be in security for an hour or more, but it's all based on circumstances. This isn't likely but it's absolutely possible. 20 minutes is more typical. 10 minutes would be unusually fast. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 13 '18 at 13:30
  • That also depends on the airport. O'Hare is on the busier side and while they don't have the worst security lines, you'll almost never speed through them without Pre-Check or at least Sky Priority – thanby Mar 13 '18 at 16:34
  • My comments are about O'Hare specifically. At smaller airports, it's possible to get through security in a couple of minutes if you go at the right time. I've even done that at Toronto Pearson, which is a very busy airport. Sometimes hundreds are in line; sometimes nobody is in line because you get lucky. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 13 '18 at 16:46
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TLDR: Doomed. Edit follows.

The fatal flaw in your plan is less the airplane than the train. Seriously? Amtrak running on time!?

And then the Uber, when the train is late, your Uber is gone and you must schedule another one - more time lost!

Er hold it... there's also baggage pick-up at Amtrak. Not instantaneous.

To say nothing of traffic. "off-hours" doesn't help if there's construction, which they do off-hours.

And we're only just now at the airport. O'Hare is huge. Just moving around within O'Hare should be given 30 minutes, plus time waiting to check bags, time waiting to move through security...

Baggage check-in will close well before the flight, and even gate check-in has a cutoff.

Upshot is, you need to plan at least 4 hours (is that even enough?) from CHI to your plane departure. 7 hours if Amtrak is involved. 24 hours if an overnight Amtrak is involved. I don't hate Amtrak: I ride it a lot. It's a great way to travel. You just have to plan for the "late".


Edit: Oh dear, you did mean Amtrak! OK, so the Michigan line has 3 trains a day, leaving Ann Arbor (AA or A2) at 7:20a, 12:17p and 6:51p. You have opted for the latest one because you want 6 more hours in AA, and this is what is breaking your plan. Voila: Take the earlier train and you get the 7 hours I was talking about.

What you may be missing is downtown Chicago is a fairly wonderful place to spend an evening. When Amtrak surprises you by being on-time, go have fun shopping and eating in downtown. Amtrak may be able to hold your bags while you do that, or go to ORD, check em, and take the Blue Line back.

Now if that Just Doesn't Work timewise, try any of these:

  • take a shuttle to Detroit DTW airport, and a hopper flight to ORD. That will land you directly at ORD instead of the Uber shuffle, and takes Amtrak right out of the picture, which is a huge win for timekeeping lol. You're still taking your chances with delays and will need some padding.
  • Call up and add the DTW-ORD flight to your ticket, and they will match you up to a flight they're willing to guarantee.
  • Rebook your international flight from DTW instead of ORD.
  • It's possible that the OP is arriving at Union Station via Metra or Megabus, rather than Amtrak, but I wouldn't necessarily trust either of them to be on time either. – Michael Seifert Mar 13 '18 at 20:44
  • @MichaelSeifert that's what I was thinking as well, regardless of transportation the OP should add 3-4 hours of buffer time to the plan. I did the same exact plan but arrived with Greyhound early afternoon for an evening flight. However that's not his question. – Herman Toothrot Mar 13 '18 at 20:59
  • @Harper I've updated my question with additional travel information. I appreciate all the comments and answers so far. – user98937 Mar 14 '18 at 13:19
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    Agreed that this plan is not feasible. Wouldn't OP be way better off finding a way to the Detroit airport and starting their journey there? – PersonX Mar 14 '18 at 14:57
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    Just to complement this answer with factual data: juckins.net/amtrak_status/archive/html/… since 1/1/2018, arrival at CHI has varied from 20 minutes early to 3 hours 19 minutes late, with a delay over 30 minutes at least 15 times. Average delay is 19 minutes. – jcaron Mar 14 '18 at 16:11
3

Ex-Chicagoan here, with literally hundreds of flights out of ORD, domestic and international. Once you provide more info I can provide a better answer, but since at the moment you are asking only about the arrival to boarding time I will address that.

90 minutes from when you step into the terminal should be enough but you should consider that you have two large bags and you don't have time to deal with unexpected delays of any type. If after dropping bags you have about 60-70 minutes, than you can make it to the gate. Your flight will have a long boarding procedure and will be likely in T5 (if things have not changed), EVA staff knows you are on your way to the gate, even if security takes you 30 minutes you will reach the gate no problem. Towards the end of check-in there is almost no line, and if EVA allows check-in up to 60 minutes before departure that means you can make it. Other considerations: during the week and late at night security takes less time, the airport is less cluttered because at T5 many flights to Europe will have already left, it looks like your flight will be one of the last.

Transportation to ORD (it should be another question): after 9pm there is substantially less traffic around downtown, you might lose some time at the stop lights (there are lots in Chicago), but once you get on the express way you would be cruising. If you change plan and arrive earlier at CHI you might consider at rush hour, or with time to spare, taking the blue line, it will take you straight into the airport terminal (not T5 however), however if your bags are huge and you are alone that might slow you down. The blue line after rush hour will be quiet and I think from downtown is 45 minutes to ORD.

  • I've updated my question with additional travel information. I appreciate all the comments and answers so far. – user98937 Mar 14 '18 at 13:19
3

Generally speaking, your checked bags might not make it at 45 minutes, even if they let you check them in. The TSA has to inspect checked baggage and for International flights this may involve more screening than domestic travelers face

From the TSA website

If you are flying from any of the last-point-of-departure airports into the U.S., you may experience a more extensive screening process and should prepare for additional screening of your property and personal electronic devices. We recommend arriving early to the airport to allow enough time for the screening process. Please know, there are no changes to items allowed in carry-on and checked baggage.

I'd hate to fly halfway around the world, only to find my bags are still at the terminal where I departed from

  • I was refused checkin to a domestic flight because I arrived at the checkin desk 10 minutes after the TSA cutoff for checked bags. And this was in a small airport where you could walk from the desk to the gate in 10 minutes total. – Peter M Mar 14 '18 at 16:29

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