Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) saw nearly 85 million visitors in 2019. Fourteen miles away from the Loop and averaging more than 2,000 flights a day, O’Hare is the sixth busiest airport in the world—and it’s a massive airport, which means massive earnings for rideshare drivers in the Chicago area.
O’Hare International allows Uber and Lyft vehicles at the pick-up and drop-off terminals, but before heading that way, there are a few rules you’ll want to know. To maximize earnings (and avoid a ticket), it’s important to understand how to navigate the airport, join the queue, and legitimize your vehicle.
To help rideshare drivers be successful at Chicago O’Hare, we put together this blog post as a guide. The following topics are covered:
- What should you do before arriving at Chicago O’Hare International Airport?
- Do you need any permits to drive there?
- Where is the rideshare waiting area at Chicago O’Hare?
- What are the passenger pick-up rules at Chicago O’Hare?
- What are the passenger drop-off rules at Chicago O’Hare?
- When is the best time to drive at Chicago O’Hare?
- What is the best driving strategy for Chicago O’Hare?
Let’s dive in!
What should you do before arriving at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and entering the airport queue?
To pick up passengers at Chicago O’Hare, you’ll need your trade dress, which (as you know) is the Lyft or Uber decal that goes on your front passenger windshield facing outward.
Uber sends out this decal when drivers sign up. If you’ve lost yours since then, there are a few easy ways to replace it. You can request that a new one be mailed to you, pick one up at your local Greenlight Hub (be wary of recent closures), or print out a temporary version at home.
You’ll need to display your vehicle emblem/TNP Chauffeur License on your passenger side dashboard, and your TNP Trade Dress on the passenger side of your rear window. You’ll also have to display a current Chicago tax emblem on your dashboard, which the City of Chicago will email to you after you’re approved as a driver. These are issued annually, so make sure yours is for the current year.
Finally, before driving at any Chicago airport, Uber drivers must complete this airport quiz, and Lyft drivers must take an online lesson and quiz located in the Dashboard.
Where is the Uber/Lyft waiting area at Chicago O’Hare International Airport?
Chicago O’Hare has two designated staging areas where rideshare drivers can wait. Arrive at the Alpha Lot staging area by heading south on Mannheim Rd./45 S, proceeding to the Balmoral exit on the right, and continuing around the curve to Balmoral Avenue. If that lot is full, head to the Delta Lot staging area south on Mannheim Road to Montrose Avenue.
Once you get to the staging lot, you’ll automatically be entered into the airport queue. You’ll be able to check your place in line in the Lyft or Uber app.
How should Uber and Lyft drivers pick up passengers at the O’Hare International Airport?
The driver who has been waiting the longest in the staging area gets the next rider request. Make sure not to enter out of driver mode while you wait or you’ll lose your spot in line.
A pin will mark where you’ll be meeting your rider. Be mindful of whether you’re headed to the Domestic or International terminal. Pickups are located between Terminal 1 and 2 (Departures level) and between Terminal 2 and 3 (Departures level), as well as the Arrivals level of Terminal 5.
How should Uber and Lyft drivers drop off passengers at the O’Hare International Airport?
Fortunately, dropping off passengers at O’Hare is much easier than picking them up. Just head to the Departures level at the passenger’s carrier of choice. You might get another rider request right after you do a drop-off, as part of the Rematch program. If not, head back to the staging lot to re-enter the queue.
That’s it, and you’re back on the road!
When is the best time to drive at Chicago O’Hare?
Turn to your Gridwise app for information about all arrivals and departures at O’Hare, as well as delays and cancellations.
Typically, midday is the best time for airport driving; most passenger arrivals and departures occur sometime between 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
With Gridwise Plus you’ll be able to see airport data 24 hours in advance, so you can lock in a solid airport strategy the night before you head out. You’ll also be able to create custom alerts for arrivals and departures.
What are some good airport strategies?
Pick up a passenger on the way to the airport
Count on Gridwise to let you know when there’s a peak in airport departures, so you can hang around near hotels at that time to maximize your chances of an airport ride.
Do not cancel on a passenger after you’ve accepted a fare
If you do, you’ll be bumped to the bottom of the queue and your wait starts all over again. The good news is, if it’s a short ride, some companies let you jump back in line after you’ve dropped the passenger off.
Be ready to present your waybill
A waybill is essentially a receipt of the last trip you completed. Be prepared to present this to airport officials or law enforcement while waiting for arrivals.
Always be prepared
The fact is, you never know when law enforcement will show up. Keep your driver’s license, insurance card, and registration handy, and don’t forget to have your placard displayed.
Congrats! Now you’re all set to make some pickups and dropoffs at Chicago O’Hare International Airport—and maybe sneak a Cubs game in between.