The next of the big moves at O'Hare: Delta about to shift to Terminal 5

Delta Air Lines planes will pack their bags next week for a short trip with major implications for O'Hare International Airport.

The carrier is relocating from O'Hare's Terminal 2 to Terminal 5, where the Chicago Department of Aviation is finishing up a $1 billion rebuild and transition to offer both international and domestic flights.

Delta will settle into 10 new gates, an upgrade from the eight it now occupies at Terminal 2.

The shift to Gates M2 through M11 at Terminal 5's western concourse officially will happen on Wednesday, Oct. 12, when signs and Delta employees will direct any discombobulated passengers to the new digs.

The Delta Sky Club will also shift over to Terminal 5 in a space four times that of the original.

“This is one of the first major moves related to the terminal reconfiguration, and comes after many years in which carriers were largely frozen into place,” said DePaul University aviation Professor Joseph Schwieterman.

“Terminal 5 has become a hotbed for new flight activity. The arrival of Southwest amplified the terminal's role, and this will bring even more traffic.”

Schwieterman noted “Delta has shown a sustained commitment to O'Hare, despite the dominance of American and United. The airline has little reason to keep its gates at locations close to those competitors, considering that few of its passengers make connections to other flights.”

The Terminal 5 remodel will debut later this year. Changes include expanding gates by 25%, replacing a three-decades-old baggage system, and updating the customs and immigration facilities with more checkpoints.

Terminal 2 is destined to be replaced by a massive new Global Terminal.

“Delta's move is the next big step in the $1 billion expansion and renovation project nearing completion at Terminal 5, where we have already opened seven new permanent gates since June,” Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said in a statement.

“In the coming months, we look forward to opening additional building elements and passenger amenities that will transform Terminal 5 into a state-of-the-art facility that will serve a mix of domestic and international passengers.”

In the meantime, officials reminded travelers that parking is limited in the Terminal 5 lot. Passengers are encouraged to use the main parking lot or economy lots and take the airport train system to Terminal 5.

“During this time of increasing passenger volume, coupled with long-term improvements to the airport infrastructure, we ask travelers to arrive early and leave prohibited items out of their carry-on bags,” TSA Illinois Federal Security Director Dereck Starks said in a statement.

Chicago Department of Aviation construction crews are also building a six-story parking garage to replace the surface lot at Terminal 5. It's set to open in 2024.

The Global Terminal offering domestic and international flights is next major project, projected to cost $2.2 billion.

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Delta Air Lines will move to a new home at Terminal 5 on Oct. 12 as part of a Chicago Department of Aviation's reconstruction project. Courtesy of Chicago Department of Aviation
Delta Air Lines will move to a new home at Terminal 5 on Oct. 12 as part of a Chicago Department of Aviation's reconstruction project. Courtesy of Chicago Department of Aviation
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