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Chicago O'Hare International Airport

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Continent: North America Country: United States Region: Illinois

Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Location Chicago, Illinois
Airport type Commercial
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 120.75(south) 126.9(north) 128.15(far north) 127.925 132.7
Ground 121.675(metering) 121.75(outbound) 121.9(inbound) 124.125
Clearance 119.25 121.6
Approach 119.0 128.45 121.15 124.35 125.7 133.625
Departure125.0 125.4 126.625
ATIS 135.4
Plane Spotting Hotels guide

Official Spotting Locations

While O'Hare does not have not "official" spotting areas, spotters are officially recognized in Chicago. Stay out of restricted areas and police will give you no hassle. Most of them are friendly and don't want any trouble

Other Spotting Locations

Wally Park (Formerly USG)

The main spotting location is located at Wally Park, formally the old USG Corporation on Scott St. which is close to the intersection of Mannheim Rd (US12/US45) and Lawrence Ave. The old parking lot is closed, but street parking is allowed as there is no through traffic. From here there is nice view of the south part of the airport and a full view of runways 28C and 27L glidepaths. Also thru fences, taxiways Delta, Mike and Quebec are visible when aircraft are taxiing to Rwy. 22L for departure. To take photos of runway 28C operations, 80mm and larger lenses will work OK. This is a good spotting place all day when wind is coming from the west, southwest or northwest. The parking lot is in Schiller Park, but Scott Street is in Chicago as is Mannheim Rd which are both considered in the airport area. DO NOT continue far north on Scott Street past the red warning signs, or the aviation police will come and could confiscate your photo equipment or you could even be arrested for trespassing on airport property.

Also you can take some shots from Hwy I-294 heading southbound directly under glidepath to Rwy 28 at your own risk (as we know 2 hrs standing limit)

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Balmoral Avenue

When driving on north on Mannheim Rd take the exit to Balmoral Ave east. Pass the first stop sign and bridge over railroad, turn right twice and park at the Rosemont Metra Station parking lot. You may need to buy a ticket at pay station (sometimes Metra people or Rosemont police can check tickets, except on weekends, when the train is not operating) and go on the bridge. There is a nice view from the bridge, however you will need a camera that has a min. of a 300mm lens to get any decent photos. This is a great place to take pictures of taxiing aircraft to/from Rwy 22L or aircraft approaching Rwy 28 (summertime early morning).

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Cell Phone Lot

Off of Mannheim Road south of Higgins/Touhy is the Airport's "Cell Phone Lot. You may park in this lot for free as long as you do not leave your vehicle unattended. There is an electronic arrivals board as well as an outhouse for emergency relief. Gives a nice view of approaches to 27R and 27L or departures from 9L and 9R.

Allstate Arena

The next good location is Allstate Arena area located at Mannheim Rd(US-12/US-45) between Higgins Rd (IL-72) and Touhy Ave. Full view of Rwy 22R all day (different places depend on where the sun is). From 9-10 am in the morning till 2-3pm a good place is the small parking lot opposite car wash just across Mannheim Rd.

In the summer, Sundays on the south side of Allstate Arena building is a flea market. You can walk between sellers, look for some good views and take shots. In wintertime, access to the parking is closed.

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In afternoons, a good place is a huge parking lot between Target store and Touhy Ave (closer to Touhy).

In late afternoons a good place is the back of the Allstate Arena parking lot close to Hwy I-90

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Also in this area you can find a spot to see arrivals at new Rwy 27R.

Beeline Road

Runway 10 operations can easily be seen from Beeline road in Bensenville. You can park on the side of the road and watch with no problems. This location is likely the closest you can get to landing planes as they come only a few hundred feet directly above the road. General photography isn't the best here though as you can only get direct head on shots of planes. As already said aircraft pass directly over the road so would only be able to see the bottom of the aircraft.

Gateway Road

This area is good for viewing Runway 10C operations. It is good until near sundown as it gets backlit.

The best way to get around is a car. Without a car you can get one maybe two places but you'll never know the wind direction even if you check METAR.

On summertime afternoons a good place is an abandoned fast food restaurant near Foster Ave.

Rwy 10 arrivals and 28 departures are visible from both locations.

Irving Park Road

A good place to take photos of aircraft arriving on 4R or departing from 22L is from an airline cargo facility right off of Irving park road. When driving from the west on Irving Pk take a left on to seymour ave then then another quick left at the first lot entrance after the small curve in the road. Drive all the way down the road and then park in one of the spaces. Arrivals at 4R and 22L departures are clearly visible.

Locations to Avoid

Cargo South

Avoid the South Cargo Area. Aviation and Chicago Police frequent the area and sometimes you can meet an FBI patrol.

Do not go near the hill that construction near runway 10 has created as it is airport property. If you are seen near or on the hill, you will be charged with trespassing on airport property, government property, and railroad property. This is a serious offense, do not go here as was stated before!


Avoid the area around the General Aviation ramp near the North Cargo area.

Always know your surroundings. If it feels like you shouldn't be somewhere, don't go there

Regular Traffic

Aer Lingus - A330-200/300

AeroMexico - 737-800

AeroUnion - A300

AirBridgeCargo - 747-400/8

Air Canada - A319

Air Canada Express - CRJ-900, E170, E175

Air China Cargo - 777F, 747-400F

Air Choice One - Cessna 208

Air France - A330-200

Air France Cargo - 777F

Air India - 777-300ER

Air New Zealand - 787-9

Alaska Airlines - A320, A321, 737-800/900

Alitalia - A330-200 (seasonal)

All Nippon Airways - 777-300ER

ANA Cargo - 777F

American Airlines - A319, A320, A321, 737-800, 767-300, 777-200, 787-8/9

American Eagle - CRJ-700/900, E140, E145, E175

Asiana Cargo - 747-400F

Atlas Air - 747-400F/BCF/8F

Austrian Airlines - 777-200ER

Bahamasair - 737-300

Boutique Air - PC-12

British Airways - A350-1000, A380 (Summer Seasonal), 777-200ER (Winter Seasonal), 787-9

Cape Air - Cessna 402

Cargolux - 747-400F/8F

CargoLogicAir - 747-400

Cathay Pacific - 777-300ER (currently suspended, A350-1000 tbd)

Cathay Pacific Cargo - 747-8F

Cayman Airways - 737-300

China Airlines Cargo - 747-400F

China Cargo Airlines - 747-400F, 777F

China Eastern Airlines - 777-300ER

China Southern Cargo - 777F

Copa Airlines - 737-800

Delta Air Lines - A220, A319, A320, A321, 717, 737-800, 777-200 (cargo only)

Delta Connection - CRJ-200/900, E170, E175

DHL - A330-200F, 777F

El Al Israel - 787-8/9 (begins March 13, 2021)

Emirates - 777-300ER

Ethiopian - 777-200LR (occasional), 787-8 (all seasonal)

Emirates Skycargo - 777F

Etihad Airways - 777-300ER, 787-9

EVA Air - 777-300ER

EVA Air Cargo - 777F

FedEx Express - A300, 757-200F, 767-300F, MD-10F, MD-11F

Finnair - A330-300 (seasonal)

Frontier Airlines - A319, A320, A321

Hainan Airlines - 787-8/9

Iberia - A330-300, A340-600, A350-900

Icelandair - 757-200

Japan Airlines - 777-300ER, 787-8

JetBlue - A320, E190

Kalitta Air - 747-400F/BCF

KLM - 777-200ER, 787-10

Korean Air - 777-300ER

Korean Air Cargo - 747-8F

LATAM Cargo - 767-300F

LOT Polish Airlines - 787-8/9

Lufthansa - A340-600, A350-900, 747-8

Lufthansa Cargo - 777F, MD-11F

Nippon Cargo - 747-8F

Qantas - 787-9

Qatar Airways - 777-300ER

Qatar Cargo - 777F

Royal Jordanian - 787-8

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) - A330-300, A340-300, A350-900

Silkway Airlines - 747-8F

Spirit Airlines - A319, A320, A321

Sun Country - 737-800

Swiss - A330-300, A340-300 (rare) 777-300ER

TAP Air Portugal - A330-200/300/900

Turkish Airlines - 777-300ER, 787-9 (Begins TBD)

United Airlines - A319, A320, 737-700/800/900ER, 757-200/300, 767-300ER, 777-200/300ER, 787-8/9/10

United Express - CRJ-200/550/700, E145, E170, E175

UPS Airlines - A300, 767-300F, MD-11F

Virgin Atlantic - 787-9 (cargo service, not scheduled. Not guaranteed)

VivaAerobus - A320 (seasonal)

Volaris - A320

Yangtze River Express - 747-400BCF

Facilities and Transportation

A new people mover is set to open Feb. 2020

The CTA Blue Line runs from ORD to the Dearborn Street subway in the Chicago Loop.

Metra's North Central Service stops at the O'Hare Transfer station. This service runs south to Downtown and north to Antioch, IL. The station is accessible via shuttle bus. Due to restrictions by the track owners (Canadian National), the train does not run on weekends or holidays.


There is a Hilton Hotel located on airport property.

Runway Usage

Here are some of the usual runway usage patterns.

Wind from the west - The optimal and preferred runway pattern for O'Hare when the winds are blowing in any direction under about 6mph or from the west is as follows. Arrivals use runways 28C, 28L, 27L, and 27R. Most international heavies use 28C and occasionally a United 757/767 will use 27L. Departures use 27L, 28R and occasionally 22L.

Wind from the east - Arrivals use runways 9L, 10R, and 10C. Departures use runways 10L and 4L. If a lot of planes become stacked up in the air 9R will temporarily become a arrival runway.

Wind from the south - Runway 22R is used for arrivals and runway 22L is used for departures. Runways 9L, 9R, and 10C also may be used for arrivals and heavy departures if the wind speed is not very high.

A good website to see a wind forecast for the airport is here.