Salvador Johnson, of Gary, Ind., faces a felony count of theft and could get up to five years in prison if found guilty.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office said Saturday the investigation began after numerous complaints of thefts of laptops belonging to Southwest Airlines customers.
Police identified Johnson as a suspect. Prosecutors say his work station was near a security screening area where he could see what types of computers were in specific bags and later steal them.
Authorities say a search of his home turned up numerous Apple and other laptops as well as records showing he pawned many computers.
No one answered the phone Saturday at a listing for Johnson.