Sleeping in Airports

Sleeping in Chicago O’Hare Airport

Chicago O'Hare Airport cots
Cot city, near K1 (Photo courtesy of a Guest traveller / 13Jun2014)

Whether your situation calls for a short nap or an overnight slumber, this sleep guide will give you the essential information needed to prepare you for sleeping in Chicago O’Hare Airport.

Our guide is updated with the help of airport sleepers who tell us about their experiences at Chicago O’Hare Airport. If you have a tip to share, write a review to help us keep this sleep guide up-to-date!

This guide was last updated: 6 May 2019. Click here to read the latest traveller reviews.

Sleeping inside Chicago O’Hare Airport Overnight

Chicago O’Hare Airport is technically open 24-hours, though Security checkpoints do shut down at night, except at Terminal 5. If you’re already inside the Secure areas before closing time, it seems you are allowed to remain Airside. Either way, plan to arrive early to clear Security or stick it out in the pre-Secure, landside areas.

Locations & Seating

The seating situation varies depending on your terminal, but sleep-friendly furniture is not common here at Chicago O’Hare Airport. Instead, most seating is equipped with armrests. At night, you should have no problem finding an empty gate or corner for some privacy, particularly if you’re willing to sleep on the floor, but most flooring is cold or tiled, so do bring a blanket or sleep mat.

One good trick is to try food courts or restaurants that have closed for the night – look for comfortable bench seating or try to push together some chairs.

Travellers do report a few good sleep spots:

  • S-shaped couches in the hallway that connects Concourses K and H (near Gate K6) and Concourses K and L
  • Couches just beyond Security in Concourse K
  • Lounge chairs airside in Terminal 3, between Gates H and T
  • Circular couches just inside the security checkpoint in Terminal 5
  • Gate C20 has quiet nook for someone prepared to sleep on the floor

Rest Zones

At the time of this update, there are no designated rest zones within the airport.

Temperature

Travellers describe cold, “freezing” indoor temperatures, especially overnight. Many reviews recommend bringing a winter coat and a blanket, no matter the season outside.

Lighting

At the time of this update, we have not received reports from travellers related to terminal brightness.  Arrive prepared with eyeshades or something else to cover your eyes, such as a shirt or towel.

Noise

At the time of this update, we have not received reports from travellers related to terminal noise. With that said, daytime sleepers can expect to hear frequent announcements regarding things like boarding calls and general airport announcements (safety warnings, passenger pages, etc). At night when there are no more flights, you would think the announcements would be put to rest, but that is not always the case. As a precaution, you should come prepared with earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Were you able to find a quiet spot to rest? Let us know by sending a tip.

Weather Delays

Chicago O’Hare Airport sees more than its fair share of flight cancellations due to bad weather with snowstorms and freezing ice situations in winter and even tornadoes in the summer. The upside is that the airport is more prepared than other airports.

When mass cancellations happen at Chicago O’Hare Airport, cots are available for stranded passengers who opt against getting a hotel room. Check with your airline to see if your flight is eligible. Flights seem to be set up around 9:30PM until 4:00AM, when staff wakes up the travellers in order to put away the cots. Old reviews mention that cots were available near Gate K1, but this is subject to change. (Note that cots are not available for travellers who simply choose to spend the night here, and they cannot be reserved in advance.)

Showers

Freshen up (and loosen those stiff muscles) with a pay-to-use shower before your flight. Locations: Hilton Athletic Club (opposite Terminal 2 inside the Hilton hotel), the American Airlines Admirals Club (Terminal 3, Concourse H) or United Club (Terminal 1, Concourse C).

Food & Drink

When you get the midnight munchies or need a coffee to stay awake, 24-hour food concessions are available. Check out these vendors, all located Airside unless otherwise noted:

Terminal 1 – Brioche Doree (Gate C22) • Fresh Market on the Go (Gate C23) • McDonald’s (Gate B11) • Starbucks (2 locations: Gate B9 and Landside near Baggage Claim)
Terminal 2 – Dunkin’ Donuts (Gate F9) • McDonald’s (Gate F7) • Starbucks (2 locations: Gate E2 and Landside near Baggage Claim)
Terminal 3 – Dunkin’ Donuts (Gate H5) • McDonald’s (2 locations: Gate L4 and Gate H5) • Starbucks (Gate K4 and Landside, Baggage Claim)
Terminal 5 – Kofe by Intelligentsia (Gate M8)

Security & Safety

At the time of this update, we have no reports from travellers commenting on safety issues at Chicago O’Hare Airport. As a precaution, here are a few tips to ensure you have a safe airport sleeping experience:

  • Know Where Security is Located. Whether you are sleeping in the airport by yourself or with friends, it is good to know where security is. Know where their office is located and look for video cameras in the spot you decide to stay the night. Ask security where it is safe to spend the night. They’ve probably seen many airport sleepers before you and they will direct you to a safe spot.
  • Don’t Seclude Yourself. If you are travelling alone we recommend that you sleep near other travellers. If you are sleeping in the public zone, make sure they are actual travellers and not homeless people – it is sometimes hard to tell in certain airports.
  • Hide Your Valuables. Don’t leave all your mobile devices out in plain view. We have received reports from people who woke up with earphones and no ipod and a laptop bag strap and no laptop bag (or laptop). Same goes with important documents and money. Keep these secure on your body, so that no one can get them without waking you up.
  • Secure Your Bags. If you are a deep sleeper, you may want to padlock your bag to something. If your bags have zippers turn the bag upside down (zippers to the floor) or sleep with your bag up against the wall, so that it would be hard for someone to access.
  • Choose to Stay Alert. If you don’t feel safe, drink coffee and stay awake and be alert. You can always sleep on the plane!

Pro-tip: If you are sleeping in the public zone, don’t be surprised if you receive an early morning wake-up call. Security is known to make the rounds waking people up as travellers begin to arrive for morning flights.

Lounges

While Chicago O’Hare Airport has a few lounges, none have designated sleep rooms or rest areas. If you just want to relax in a comfortable seat, check out this list of lounges in our Chicago O’Hare Airport Guide that you can pay to access.

Hotels

Prefer some privacy and comfort? If you would like a good solid sleep between flights you’ll have to leave security to reach the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel. Located across from Terminal 2, a free shuttle connects the hotel with Terminal 5 and all domestic terminals also connect to the hotel by underground walkway.

Additional hotels at various price points are located nearby, and most offer free shuttle service. See our Chicago O’Hare Airport Guide for information on nearby hotels.

Write a Review

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