Train & Subway to get to ORD for just $16.50 – Maybe time to rethink Delta in Chicago?

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At airport – not flying Delta? Most strange.

Let me start with the fact that this post, for city dwellers, may be a mega eye-roll worthy post. I get that. But also understand for much of the rest of the USA travel always begins with a car and in the Midwest that is generally the way it is. Or is it?

Last year, on my way to the grand opening for the Delta B Sky Club, I wrote that I was done with flying Delta out of Chicago O’Hare (ORD) despite the perks of Delta and Chicago like:

  • Way lower price than South Bend SBN – think half most trips
  • Real jets vs. CRJ200 torture tubes
  • Sweet upgrade chances as a Diamond
  • A real Sky Club with fantastic Delta people working there
  • Many more flight choices if things go sideways

Despite all these sweet perks I tended to avoid the windy city just west of my hometown mostly due to traffic and the added cost of tolls and gas and painful parking fees.

Well I finally decided to follow the advice of many readers to simply go to the South Bend airport but NOT get on a jet (very strange) but to instead get on a train.

I have to say the South Shore has a simple app that makes buying a ticket quick and simple and all you do is tap the ticket once aboard when the conductor comes by. Slick and efficient.

Now as for comfort? Well, if this train were packed full the ride would make a CRJ200 feel modern and nice.

Same goes for your luggage if it is oversized at all – that is, you will be taking up seat space. Not an issue if few are on-board like my ride. Oh and the advertised wifi did not work but my Sprint 4G was just fine so…

Beyond those gripes the ride was nice for an older train. We got to Chicago in about the same time it would take to drive but for way less than the cost of driving.

After arriving in Chicago I did have to exit and walk a few blocks to the Blue Line and pay a few buck to ride out to ORD (included in my total at the top of this post). Now this ride I did like VERY much.

Not really due to the comfort of this subway itself but due to the fact that we shot past the stop – N – go traffic I normally found myself stuck in that makes me crazy. Oh and the fact that I could take my time and gaze up at jets on final into O’Hare is always a real treat for an AVgeek like me.

Overall it was a real eye opener for me that, while not really a time saver vs. driving myself, this choice to get from home to an airport that has so many perks over my local one is one to seriously consider. Even in the dead of winter to not have to drive in the snow (despite the few block walk once I hit Chicago) is also worth a serious look.

You tell me. From where you live is a train / bus / whatever an option for you vs. driving or are you so remote that there is no option? Do you prefer to always just drive to have your own car or is mass transit always the choice for you? Let me know what has worked and not worked for you! – Rene



  1. Of course, living in Tokyo, I only use trains, and it’s just so nice to not even think about navigating to the airport. When I fly out of other airports, I always try to use public transport, especially if there is a train. Atlanta is good with Marta, even if it doesn’t go as far as it needs to. Uber comes in handy for the last mile! Take the train, relax, enjoy the view, and get one more car off the road!

    I did one time also take Megabus to Chattanooga from ATL to get a cheaper deal out of that airport. So many options!

  2. Why not fly to MDW Midway when flying to Chicago? Lots of Delta flights there, newly renovated airport, Orange line into the city easier than blue line from ORD. BTW, I have taken the South Shore and agree it’s great.

  3. The Blue Line to ORD is absolutely fantastic. I would prefer it if the stops were a bit more spread out though.

    As far as the best money saving commute from airports I frequent; it has to be the blue and yellow through DCA. Also, the metro in DC is cleaner than Chicago.

  4. The South Shore Line and Blue Line is an effortless and inexpensive way to get from SBN to ORD. As one who values time for work and relaxation, you made the right choice for transportation. You are saving the environment at the same time.

    When visiting Chicago, I always use the Blue Line to the Loop. It runs 24/7. Service in the wee hours is less frequent of course, but even at 2 a.m. it has seemed safe.

    My home airport, CLT, has no public transportation. I use Uber or Lyft to the airport to save on parking and for convenience. At airports that have trains or a metro I always select those options. I don’t have an employer or client that picks up the tab for a private car service, rental car or taxi. Although I don’t use rental cars much anymore, I hear that better prices may be available in town versus airport locations.

    But notwithstanding your unique personal circumstances I believe you are drawing the wrong conclusion here. While DL at ORD is better than DL at SBN, you should go to ORD to fly American not DL. AA has many more flights. The Admirals Clubs have been and are being renovated. For international flights, there is a Flagship Lounge that beats any Sky Club. As an AA Executive Platinum my upgrades out of ORD have been excellent, even hub to hub like ORD-CLT and ORD-DFW. As a DL Diamond my upgrades have been dwindling. DL hub to hub is a tough upgrade even for Diamonds.

  5. Though this post might only affect a small percentage of your readers, it makes for a good story of personal experience. Living in NYC, yes, I suppose it’s a bit of an eye roll, but I also understand the thrill of knowing you have options. To travel from the UWS to JFK, or any NYC area airport can involve up to three different transfers.

    Any method that allows you to travel with your hands off the wheel is a worthy post and reminds people that they too may have options in their cities they may have not thought out.

    Keep up your great postings.

  6. I lived in Chicago for 10 years and my kids and grandkids live there. The train is way faster than a car driving. You obviously have not spent time on the Chicago expressways in and out of the city and going either to ORD or Midway. You can sit on these multilane roads for long periods and never know why you sat there. That train ride is much safer than driving. My son works in the city and does not have a car. He uses Lyft and Uber and ZipCar. You can run into stop and go traffic on 290 at 3am.

  7. I live in London so my US-bound flights are from LHR, but i live on the opposite side of London (SE rather than SW where LHR is). Driving there takes approx 1.5-2 hours to do and public transport is approx the same so its just more sensible to go that way.

  8. I do wish JFK had a real public transit option that saved time a la the heathrow Express (which bought ahead can be reasonable). But I agree, less stress and less pollution for a little convenience are good trade offs for a commute. I always saw driving as lost time as I couldn’t work or read and when taking transport I can do either, and take the time or convenience hit.

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