A Brief Opportunity to Watch Planes at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport


American Airlines B-787-8

Sometimes the thought of a five-hour layover at an airport is met with dread… lines of passengers, noise, boredom, and many other detractions. Due to rain showers and heat indexes over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I skipped my last day at the EAA’s AirVenture this year, and drove south to Chicago earlier than planned, to catch my flight home to New Hampshire. I got to O’Hare about five hours before my 6:30PM flight, checked in and transferred my luggage, and went through security. I thought a Friday afternoon would be crowded, but I was rather surprised that early afternoon wasn’t too bad at all. I found my gate and had almost a full four-hour window to watch airliners coming and going from Terminal H another adjacent fingers. 


All Nippon Airways B-777-300ER

There was no boredom this trip, as O’Hare (ORD) is the fourth busiest airport in the world, with hubs for both American Airlines and United Airlines, as well as a major international destination from Europe and Asia. 


Air Wisconsin CRJ-200 in throwback colors.

Regional airlines serving both of these U.S. major airlines wore their mainline color schemes, with just a few special liveries. A few mainline special liveries appeared too. Being in Terminal H allowed me to switch between a few windows to see taxiing traffic when a specific gate was occupied and blocking my view. Putting the lens sunshade up to the window allowed me to cut out any glare from adjacent windows as well. All of a sudden, I had a lot of photography to do. And, about three and a half hours to do it.


Air Belgium A-330-900

By mid-afternoon, most of the international traffic from Europe had landed. One Airbus that caught my eye as an Air Belgium A-330-900 in bright colors. Another was a Lufthansa A-350-900. Big Boeings included a KLM B-787-10 and a multitude of American and United B787s of three main variants. 


United Airlines B-757-200 in special livery.

As far as domestic airliners, it was good to see a few United Airlines B-757-300 versions, and American using a B–737 MAX8.


Denver Air Connection ERJ-145

Below is a small part of the photos which I took that afternoon.  You can hover over a photo to see the airline and type information, and click for an enlargement. 

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 35 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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