Chicago holiday travel: Long lines expected at O'Hare, Midway for Thanksgiving weekend

Good news for air travelers this week: the Transportation Safety Administration is now reporting 93% of its workforce is in compliance with the federal worker vaccine mandate.

That means there at least won’t be a shortage of staff when going through security this holiday season. However, lines are still going to be long this week.

"Even more people are coming out of the woodwork to return to normal whereas Thanksgiving is about 90% of pre-pandemic, Christmas could be closer to 100 percent pre-pandemic," said DePaul University's Joseph Schweiterman.

The Chicago Department of Aviation estimates O’Hare and Midway will welcome more than twice the number of passengers than last year, with O’Hare expecting to see 1.2 million travelers Tuesday through Monday.


The busiest day at both airports will be Sunday with significant numbers also expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Schweiterman said prices this week are fairly average, but — if your family allows it — travel on Thanksgiving or Friday morning. He said the airfare is cheap, like it will be in early December until about the 15th.

"There's going to be some real value out there, starting Monday or Tuesday until December 15th because there’s kind of a vacuum without business travelers and pleasure travelers who tend to stay home at that period," said Schweiterman.

Schweiterman says don’t forget about trains, buses and rental cars as options for travel this holiday season — all are comparable to airfare.

If you are flying, a few tips: wear your mask, arrive early and take public transportation to get where you need to go.