How Big is O’Hare Airport?

How Big is O’Hare Airport?

O’Hare International Airport in Chicago spans 30.86 km² (11.9 m²) covering 7,627 acres (3,087 ha) in the northwest metropolitan area of Chicago. It has 22,464 parking spaces, and 8 runways, the highest number of runways among all US airports covering 14 acres (5.7 ha) and serving over 228 destinations. While not the biggest airport in the US by land mass, it is the third busiest with more than 84 million passengers served in 2020.

According to airport-technology.com, O’Hare Airport was the busiest airport in the US in 2017 and was the sixth busiest in the world, handling 79 million passengers and experiencing 867,049 aircraft movements in 2017. Of course, these figures were shaken up a bit when COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 slowing down air traffic in 2020, and 2021, and still seeing some waning impact in 2022.

O’Hare Airport Spans 11.9 Square Miles:

Spanning 11.9 square miles, O’Hare is one of the largest airports in the United States. The airport is located on more than 7,000 acres of land in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. O’Hare has eight runways, which is the most of any airport in the country.

O’Hare Airport vs JFK Airport size:

JFK Airport spans 4,930 acres, while O’Hare spans 7,627 acres. IN other words, O’Hare is bigger than JFK by nearly 3,000 acres.

To put it in perspective, Central Park in New York City is only 843 acres. So, O’Hare could fit nearly nine Central Parks within its borders!

Another way to look at the size of these two airports is by the number of runways. JFK has six runways while O’Hare has eight.

O’Hare is also one of the busiest airports in the world. In 2019, the airport handled more than 950,000 aircraft movements (takeoffs and landings). That’s an average of more than 2,600 aircraft movements per day!

In terms of passenger traffic, O’Hare handled more than 84 million passengers in 2020. That an average of more than 230,000 passengers per day. This made it the third busiest airport in the US, behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

O’Hare is currently undergoing a massive expansion project that will add even more space to the already massive airport. When completed, the expansion will bring the total size of O’Hare to nearly 8,000 acres.

How many gates are at O’Hare Airport?

According to flychicago.com, O’Hare Airport has 193 gates in all its terminals as of January 2022.

Courtesy of flychicago.com, below are images showing gate locations at O’Hare in Terminals 1, 2,3, and 5.

Terminal 1 gates o'hare
map showing Terminal 2 gates at o'hare

Why is O’Hare Airport so busy?

  • Hub for airlines: As a hub airport for both United Airlines and American Airlines, O’Hare International Airport serves as a connecting point for many domestic and international flights. This means that the airport is constantly busy with people coming in and out for connecting flights.
  • Location: O’Hare International Airport is located just outside of downtown Chicago which makes it very convenient for people who are traveling to and from the city. It is also located near many other popular destinations in the Midwest such as Milwaukee, Detroit, and Indianapolis.
  • Size: As mentioned before, O’Hare International Airport is on the list of biggest airports in the US by landmass and by the number of runways. This means that the airport is able to accommodate a large number of flights and passengers.

How Many Runways at O’Hare Airport?

O’Hare Airport has 8 runways making it an airport with the highest number of runways in the US.

The first 2 runways were opened when the Airport was founded in 1943 with 2 more getting launched before the close of the 20th Century in 1968 and in 1971.

Since the start of the 21st century, O’Hare Airport has commissioned three more runways in 2008, 2013, 2015 and in 2020.

The longest runway at O’Hare is Runway 10L/28R with a length of 13,000 ft and a width of 150 ft. 3000 ft. was added to the runway as an extension to 10L/28R runway in 2008.

Below is an image of O’Hare terminals and their positioning in the overall layout of O’Hare;

sizes of Terminals at O'Hare Airport, Credit: Flychicago.com
Terminals at O’Hare Airport, Credit: Flychicago.com

What’s the size of O’Hare Airport Runways (Length and Width)

O’Hare Airport which was opened in 1943 started out with two runways (Runway 4L/22R) and

(Runway 9R/27L) measuring 7500 ft. and 11,260 ft. in length, respectively. 3 of the shortest runways have a length of 7,500 ft and 150ft. in width.

The table below shows the size of O’Hare Airport runways and the years they were opened;

What’s the biggest airport in the world?

The biggest airport in the world is King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia with a size of about 299.6  square miles, an equivalent of 810 square kilometers. This giant airport covers an area almost equivalent to that of all the 5 New York City boroughs which are about 302.6 square miles.

Biggest Airport in the World - King Fahd International Airport

King Fahd Airport was formally a military base for the US Army but was later converted to accommodate international commercial flights in 1999. The airport has 5 runways and can serve about 60 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo every year.

The biggest airport in the US by size

Denver International Airport: 53 square miles

The biggest airport in the United States is Denver International Airport which has a size of about 53 square miles (137.2 square kilometers). This makes it almost twice the size of Manhattan Island which is 22.7 square miles (58.8 square kilometers) in size.

Compared to O’Hare, Denver Airport is about 1.75 times the size of O’Hare. Denver International Airport was opened in 1995 and has since become one of the busiest airports in the US, handling about 64 million passengers annually. The airport has 6 runways and is a hub for both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 26.9 sq. mi. | 69.6 sq. km

The second biggest airport in the United States is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) which has a size of 26.9 square miles (69.6 square kilometers). DFW is about half the size of Denver International Airport and slightly smaller than O’Hare Airport.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was opened in 1974 and is currently the busiest airport in Texas handling about 67 million passengers annually. The airport has 7 runways and is a hub for both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD): 20.3 sq. mi. or 52.6 sq. km

The third biggest airport in the United States is Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) which has a size of 20.3 square miles (52.6 square kilometers). IAD is about two-thirds the size of Denver International Airport and slightly bigger than Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Washington Dulles International Airport was opened in 1962 and is a hub for United Airlines. The airport has 4 runways and handles about 23 million passengers annually.

 Orlando International Airport (MCO): 19.7 sq. mi. or 51.0 sq. km:

Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in Florida and the tenth busiest airport in the United States handling about 44 million passengers annually. The airport has 4 runways and is a hub for both JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) spans 19.7 sq. mi. or 51 sq. km

San Francisco International Airport is the seventh busiest airport in the United States handling about 57 million passengers annually. The airport has 4 runways and is a hub for both United Airlines and Virgin America.

SFO spans 19.7 square miles or about 51 square kilometers.

What’s the smallest airport in the world?

The smallest airport in the world is Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport with a very short runway covering only 400 meters which is also similar to Simko Field Airport. This very short runway is only about 1/8 of a mile or 0.2 kilometers long. Check out Simko Field Airport Wikipedia page, the smallest airport in the US is located in the State of Idaho in a small town called Inkom.

Juancho airport, the smallest commercial airport in the world is located on the island of Saba which is part of the Netherlands, and is considered to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world because of its very short runway. Despite this, the airport sees about 20,000 passengers annually.

Map showing location of Saba relative to Sint Eustatius and Saint Martin.

To put this in perspective, the average size of an airport runway is about 3,000 meters or 2 miles long. The longest runway in the world is at King Fahd International Airport which is about 4.5 kilometers or 2.8 miles long.

Here is a Wikipedia page with a list of airports with the shortest runways.

As you can see, O’Hare International Airport is one of the biggest airports in the world. The airport is a hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines and handles about 80+ million passengers annually.

If you’re ever in Chicago, be sure to check out O’Hare International Airport!

O’Hare International Airport in Chicago spans 30.86 km² (11.9 m²) covering 7,627 acres (3,087 ha) in the northwest metropolitan area of Chicago. It has 8 runways, the highest among all US airports covering 14 acres (5.7 ha) and serving over 228 destinations. While not the biggest airport in the US by land mass, it is the third busiest with more than 84 million passengers served in 2020.

According to airport-technology.com, O’Hare Airport was the busiest airport in the US in 2017 and was the sixth busiest in the world, handling 79 million passengers and experiencing 867,049 aircraft movements in 2017. Of course, these figures were shaken up a bit when COVID Pandemic hit in 2020 slowing down air traffic in 2020, and 2021, and still seeing some waning impact in 2022.

Why is O’Hare Airport so busy?

  • Hub for airlines: As a hub airport for both United Airlines and American Airlines, O’Hare International Airport serves as a connecting point for many domestic and international flights. This means that the airport is constantly busy with people coming in and out for connecting flights.
  • Location: O’Hare International Airport is located just outside of downtown Chicago which makes it very convenient for people who are traveling to and from the city. It is also located near many other popular destinations in the Midwest such as Milwaukee, Detroit, and Indianapolis.
  • Size: As mentioned before, O’Hare International Airport is on the list of biggest airports in the US by landmass and by the number of runways. This means that the airport is able to accommodate a large number of flights and passengers.

O’Hare International Airport!