Tours Travel

O’Hare Parking Lot: My Protest-Proof Thanksgiving Weekend Trip

Flying from Chicago to New York this past Thanksgiving weekend, parking at O’Hare was a major consideration for me. I wanted to be at the airport in as much time as possible, park somewhere safe and convenient nearby, and be in line early at the gates. I was a bit worried about the astroturfer’s threat of a so-called “national opt-out day” where protesters will reject full body scans and demand pat-downs by the TSA.

I left my car in the O’Hare parking lot and arrived at the airport three hours early prepared for the worst. You see, pat-downs take an average of four minutes compared to the 10 seconds it would take someone to go through a body scan. If large numbers of these people opted out, the resulting long lines would wreak havoc with the travel schedules of hundreds of thousands of people. Fortunately, Americans are more sensitive than that: the planned protest action failed at ORD from what I’ve seen (as well as other airports, thankfully). As it turned out, it was the inclement weather that actually threatened flight schedules, not some Speedo wacko demanding a spanking.

As I waited for my flight at the airport (two more hours to go) with my third cup of coffee, I thought about how much worse it could have been, something as awful as the long lines we all went through in late 2001 and early 2002. At least , O’Hare’s parking lot today is decidedly much better than it was back then.

On-site O’Hare airport parking is expensive and I rarely use it these days, even for very short trips (2-3 days). Daily parking here is $31 per day, both in the garage and in nearby lots A, B, and C, and these tend to fill up easily on peak days. Economy Lot E has a lower rate of just $17 per day, while Economy Lot F on Mannheim Road has the cheapest rate of just $9 per day. Both cheap lots have great shuttle services and Lot F rarely fills up completely, which isn’t too bad even for long-term parking.

Outside of the airport, there are several O’Hare parking options to choose from. The outdoor valet parking managed by AviStar on N Mannheim Rd is a great option for people who want to try off-airport parking options. Parking here is around $74 for 7 days. The nearby Park N’ Jet lot on Belle Plaine Ave has a much cheaper rate of about $61 for the same number of days. Other facilities in this vicinity, such as the Thrifty and Pride lots, have comparable rates to the previous two and are all serviced by frequently moving shuttle vehicles.

The hotel parking garage is also a good option for parking at O’Hare Airport. Park, sleep and fly packages at these airports are in fact very cost-effective for families or groups traveling for 10-14 days. InterContinental, for example, offers a room rate starting at $99 with 10 days of parking. Nearby, Crowne Plaza has rooms available starting at $109 with 14 days of free parking. I have not experienced bad service at these hotels, but a couple of friends are not very enthusiastic about their shuttle services. In any case, it is also possible to park in these establishments without having the ‘park, sleep and fly’ packages.

For the Thanksgiving trip, I used Lot F O’Hare budget parking for 3 days of parking. The trip to New York went smoothly as planned and I had a great time with the family. One more Thanksgiving weekend, I guess, to be thankful for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *