Holiday travel rush underway at O'Hare, Midway airport ahead of Christmas

Christian Piekos Image
Thursday, December 21, 2023
Holiday travelers pack Chicago's airports
It seems like passengers are flocking to O'Hare in waves.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- If you're traveling Thursday, you'll have millions of people keeping you company!

This holiday travel period could shape up to break records.

Santa's made early rounds inside a bustling Terminal 1 at O'Hare ahead of what's predicted to be a jam-packed holiday travel season.

The Hackbarth family is gearing up to fly to Hawaii for the holidays and prepping for what's going to be a long day of traveling.

"I hate to say technology, but it helps a lot," Emily Hackbarth said. "Video games, a little bit of candy doesn't hurt."

Clara Hackbarth, who is traveling to Hawaii, said she asked Santa for an American Girl doll for Christmas and Daniel Hackbarth asked for a nerf gun.

The Chicago Department of Aviation predicts three million people will travel through O'Hare and Midway through January 2.

The TSA says its agents will screen *2.5 million people per day into the New Year.

Overall, AAA says more than 115 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more, which is the most since 2019.

Aviation officials from United warning passengers of the impending rush for the skies.

"Those planes are going to be full, the airports are going to be full, I'm not going to like sugarcoat," United Airlines senior vice president and chief communications officer Josh Earnest said.

Evanston's Nicole Jaworski and her family left for the Sunshine State early Thursday morning, hoping to beat the airport rush.

She has these pro tips for parents traveling with kiddos.

"Lots of snacks, umbrella stroller, we've got these little inflatable car seats for the big kids," Nicole Jaworski said.

A long line of weary travelers could be seen stretching to the other side of Terminal 1 before the sun was up this morning.

Chicago's Karolina Bartosik is trying to keep spirits bright, traveling to Savannah with her cat in tow.

"People are moving, no one is upset," she said. "Everyone's excited to get out there for the holidays."

You can likely expect congestion on the roadways in the coming days.

AAA says the worst time to drive for the holidays will be this Saturday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Right now, the average gas price in Illinois is hovering near the national about $3.12 per gallon.

"Take a few deep breaths and just think about where you're headed," Rose Marie, who is traveling to Seattle, said.

The TSA predicts that its busiest days will be Thursday, December 29 and January 2. The agency is asking passengers to pack smart to avoid any unnecessary delays.