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Chicago travel agent tips on O'Hare (ORD) or Midway (MDW) airports

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park is just one famous Chicago landmark to visit if flying into the Windy City. (Photo by Elizabeth McQuern)

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park is just one famous Chicago landmark to visit if flying into the Windy City. (Photo by Elizabeth McQuern)

Travelers departing from the Chicago area have a great number of options when picking an airport and how to get themselves to the terminal, Chicago travel agents say.

That's because the Windy City offers a number of nearby airports, including O'Hare International (ORD) and Midway International (MDW).

Mike Kelly of Travel Plus in Barrington, Ill., says that especially for travelers flying domestically, Midway offers a practical alternative to the much busier O'Hare, the third busiest airport in the world according to Airports Council International.

"O’Hare is really the only practical airport for non-stop international destinations, but for domestic flights, Midway Airport is much smaller and less delayed," he says, adding that for even more budget-minded flyers, consider looking at flights departing from General Mitchell International (MKE) in Milwaukee.

Getting to Chicago's airports can be achieved by traditional transportation options such as taking a taxi, car service or shuttle, but one of the most convenient and affordable options is taking the Chicago Transit Authority's 'L' trains to either airport, Kelly says. According to the CTA website, travelers should take advantage of the Blue Line to reach ORD or the Orange Line to reach MDW.

No matter how you arrive at the airport, Kelly says it's important to arrive early, but preferably after the rush of business travelers have departed. "The earlier in the day you travel, the better," he says. "Not only are airports less congested in the morning after the 6 to 7 a.m. departure rush, but weather systems that can cause delays typically form and hit later in the day."

Even though you can book most flights and travel options via Internet websites, Kelly stresses that often consumers could benefit from the services of a travel agent, especially for those looking for service after the sale.

"Travel agents serve as the only neutral source of information and advice about an incredibly complex array of fares, rules and services," he says. With websites, he says, "There’s a lack of flexibility: you book it, you own it. Once the transaction is completed, you have no ability to void or change it without significant charges. Who do you call when you have a problem? The Internet?"

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