The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) has introduced a new shuttle service that will make flight connections substantially easier this summer for passengers transiting through O’Hare International Airport.
Starting Monday, June 19, the CDA, along with American Airlines, began operating shuttle buses, named the Terminal Transfer Bus (TTB) between Terminal 3 and International Terminal 5 for passengers with a confirmed ticket for international travel leaving from Terminal 5. Previously, customers were required to exit the secure area of Terminal 3 and take the Airport Transit System (ATS) to Terminal 5 and be re-screened for security there. This was a huge hassle.
Six Oneworld carriers operate departures and arrivals out of Terminal 5 at Chicago O’Hare: air berlin, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian. Presently, British Airways runs a shuttle service for American Airlines passengers connecting from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5, but only for ticketed passengers flying on BA or Qatar Airways out of Terminal 5.
The new shuttle will be accessible to any customer with a ticketed boarding pass on any of the airlines operating out of Terminal 5, and open to any customer regardless of class of service. It will not be available to employees, however. The existing British Airways shuttle will continue to run in parallel until further decisions are announced. Furthermore, the TTB is presumably only going to operate during the Spring, Summer and Fall months, although that could change if the demand is very popular, which is likely.
The buses will run from gates G17 and K20 in Terminal 3. You can access this ORD T3 Map to learn more.
Dozens of foreign carriers operate departures out of Terminal 5 at O’Hare, in addition to those listed above, including Aer Lingus, AeroMexico, Air France, Air India, Alitalia, Asiana, Austrian, Avianca, Cayman Airways, China Eastern, Copa, Delta (Paris flight only during the Winter Season), Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, Hainan, Icelandair, Interjet, KLM, Korean Air, LOT, SAS, SWISS, Turkish Airlines, Volaris and WestJet. A few OneWorld and Star Alliance carriers depart
A few OneWorld and Star Alliance carriers depart from Terminals 3 and 1, respectively, to remain co-located with their domestic partners. OneWorld JV partners Iberia and Japan Airlines depart from Terminal 3, and Star Alliance JV partners Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways depart from Terminal 1. American has relationships with the all of the above mentioned OneWorld carriers but also codeshares with Etihad and WestJet. Subsequently, the shuttle bus will be useful for American customers who are connecting onto these airlines as well.
Customers who fly into Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 at O’Hare can also use the shuttle if they have a connecting departure out of Terminal 5, but of course will be required to walk to Terminal 3 if they want to avoid leaving the secure area.
The buses will run from 10:30 AM to 8 PM each day, which means that there will be some connecting itineraries onto international flights that will not be able to take advantage of this bus given the earlier departure times (prior to or an hour after 10:30 AM) or later departure time (8PM and after) of their international journeys. Examples of such departures include:
Prior to 11:30 AM:
- AeroMexico 689 to Mexico City, departing at 7:00 AM
- Copa 236 to Panama City, departing at 8:45 AM
After to 8:00 PM:
- Aer Lingus 124 to Dublin, departing at 8:20 PM
- Emirates 236 to Dubai, departing at 8:30 PM
- British Airways 296 to London Heathrow, departing at 8:40 PM
- SAS 946 to Stockholm, departing at 9:05 PM
- LOT 4 to Warsaw, departing at 9:25 pm
- Royal Jordanian 264 to Amman, departing at 9:30 PM
- Turkish Airlines 6 to Istanbul, departing at 9:40 PM
- Finnair 10 to Helsinki, departing at 10:00 PM
- SAS 944 to Copenhagen, departing at 10:05 PM
- Asiana 235 to Seoul, departing at 11:55 PM
- Aeromexico 683 to Mexico City, departing at 00:20 AM
- EVA Air 55 to Taipei, departing at 00:30 AM
- Interjet 2983 to Mexico City, departing at 00:40 AM
- AeroMexico 661 to Guadalajara, departing at 1:55 AM
All of this, of course, especially scheduled departure times, are subject to change.
It is important to note that if you are self-connecting, you will need to exit the secure area anyways to re-check your luggage and/or receive your boarding pass from your onward airline. If you are not checking luggage, and have managed to get your boarding documents in a self-connection scenario, then you can proceed onward.
Alternatively, if you are on a connecting itinerary that has an interline agreement with any of the carriers departing out of Terminal 5, then you generally will have a valid boarding pass issued that you can use to proceed to the International Terminal. Remember that an interline agreement between two or more carriers allows a passengers’ luggage to be transported between flights, from one carrier to another, through the next point of stopover. It does require that the flights are booked on a single ticket purchased via a single transaction. However, even if you are not checking luggage, you generally can still receive boarding passes for all onward legs of the journey, provided that you show all of your documents and clear formalities with the check-in agents at your original point of origin.
Above all, the new bus is a huge breakthrough for connecting passengers at O’Hare. This will be utilized by thousands of passengers each day, and is long overdue for a massive connecting airport like Chicago.